Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wow… after a very slow start to the week, there was actual drama yesterday!  Here are some of the interesting developments.



Judge: Jami Doesn’t Meet Residency in Senate 5

Yesterday Judge Joan Moriarty ruled that Rep. Jamilah Nasheed didn’t meet the residency requirement to run in Senate 5.


When the news broke, the shouts and squeals of joy from the office of Senate 5 incumbent Robin Wright Jones echoed throughout the Senate side of the building.


Minutes later when HB 1865 came up in the Senate for a vote, Wright Jones happily did the Missouri Senate equivalent of an end zone dance while she voted “yes, yes” to the tax credit reform bill (see below).


She and her consigliore John Bowman then did a victory lap around the 3rd floor, while Nasheed already started talking about her appeal.


The mighty Jason Rosenbaum reports for the Beacon (read it Here) that Wright Jones and Nasheed nemesis Sen. Maria Chappelle Nadal exchanged a high-five on the news.


The crux of the ruling hinges on the constitutional phrase saying that in a redistricting year residency is established by residing in “the district or districts from which (the new district) shall have been taken.”   Nasheed lives in the old Senate 4 a part of which became the new Senate 5.  But the judge said that because her specific residency was not in the old or new Senate 5 she didn’t qualify.


Building odds: 65% that Nasheed wins the appeal.



A different judge – Judge Steven Goldman – ruled that Rep. Sylvester Taylor, facing a similar challenge from the same attorney who argued against Nasheed, did meet the residency requirement.  Because the House constitutional provision is different than the Senate requirement it’s unclear the extent to which ruling – the Nasheed or Taylor case – could affect other House members who are running in a district in which they don’t currently reside.  I have not read the Goldman ruling yet, but expect to get a cop today.



Senate Does Tax Credits

The Senate passed HB 1865 as something of a tax credit reform lite bill.  It reauthorized the “social” tax credits (like food pantry, child advocates etc) which were facing sunsets. It added a new tax credit to help cities land NCAA, USGA, USOG and other sporting events. And it lowered the historic tax credit to $75 million a year.


The deal for this reform-lite was apparently struck by Sens. Jason Crowell, Eric Schmitt and Chuck Purgason, but didn’t include Sen. Joe Keaveny who represents St. Louis City which has benefited greatly from the historic tax credits.


Keaveny offered an amendment to protect that tax credit program.  His city colleague Sen. Robin Wright Jones spoke against the amendment.  She told me later there were three reasons for doing so: first, if they didn’t compromise on the issue, the Republicans might push through even more drastic cuts.  Second, the reauthorization of the social tax cuts was important.  And third, Keaveny has spoken against an amendment of hers last week.  His amendment failed 3-28, with Sens. Kiki Curls and Kurt Schaefer joining him.


But the guess is that the House won’t be too excited for this bill.  From one Republican over there: “we want to pass some economic development, but it will not be unilaterally forced upon the House if it is not a good deal all around… The cap on historics needs to be higher and the pot needs to be sweetening with more programs: data centers, angel tax credits and job retention.”



How to Pass a Bill in the Senate

Two bills one might expect to be controversial sailed through the Senate relatively easily yesterday.


Often the Senate operates almost on social cues.  If certain senators, or coalitions of senators, announce they are okay with a bill, an aura of credibility and reasonability can smooth its road to passage.


Sen. Victor Callahan brought up HB 1659 & 1116 which created a “land bank agency” in Kansas City.  He accepted a change from Sen. Luann Ridgeway which prevented any developer from buying more than five contiguous parcels in any year.  She said it was to make sure that the bill didn’t become a “back door land assemblage bill.”  By enlisting changes from Ridgeway and Sen. Will Kraus, Callahan signaled that the Republicans as well as the Democrats in that area affected by the bill were on board.  And although Sen. Rob Mayer stood for a while asking questions, no one else seemed concerned and the bill passed 31-2.


Sen. Mike Kehoe brought up HB 1329 which mandated that local sales tax applied to cars bought out of state.  One might think that type of legislation would be hard to pass in a Republican, anti-tax legislature.  But when less-government, fiscal hawk Sen. Jason Crowell is the first person to stand up and declare that it’s not a tax increase, and he’s 100% behind it, the folks who might go on a less-taxes jihad fell quiet and it passed 32-0.


It then passed through the House, but the 2nd floor was telling folks that the governor plans to veto it because it’s a “tax increase.”



Another Local Government Bill Dies

The House amazingly failed to pass the omnibus local government bill yesterday.  They worked through 14 amendments and it apparently collapsed on its own weight.  One particular provision – repealing prevailing wage for water tower painter – might have cost the bill passage.  It failed 76-77, so there’s a chance if Republicans can flip one vote they could reconsider it. However there doesn’t seem any great appetite to take it back up.



Pole Attachment Deal in Limbo

The electrical coops have been negotiating all session with the telecom and cable companies about the terms by which their poles throughout rural Missouri could be used (or rented).


Two days ago things seemed far apart, but all a deadline will do, yesterday a compromise was worked out.


However when it came to the floor, it hit a snag.  Sen. Eric Schmitt stood up concerned about property rights.


One lobbyist later that night said it was the classic situation where the interested parties in a thorny issue all come to an agreement and then expect that the thirty-four senators will simply do codify their agreement.  And that doesn’t always work in the Senate.


Schmitt, having witnessed eminent domain’s impact on residents, was skeptical that there were adequate safeguards for property owners.  It led to a testy exchange with the bill sponsor Sen. Brad Lager who sees the bill as a vehicle to bring broadband access to rural areas of his district.


The bill was laid over.  And as of last night it was unclear whether there was a reasonable compromise available or whether this was a philosophical divide.




Speaker Steve Tilley and gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence fire on each other – not Nixon.  Read it Here.



The House worked until 1 am last night, getting slap happy in process with legislators acting like school children tossing paper ball behind the school master’s back.  Speaker pro tem Shane Schoeller admonished them to follow Rule 95, but that generally fell on deaf ears.



Tweet of the Day

Brian Grace ‏@BrianJGrace “5 years ago today I was diagnosed with cancer. I won. #fuckcancer @pedalthecause @lancearmstrong @SitemanCenter”



$5K+ Contributions

Missourians for Health and Education - $25,892 from American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

Spence for Governor - $5,000 from Douglas Albrecht.

Spence for Governor - $20,000 from James Vaughn.

AGC-MO-PAC - $6,440 from Snyder Construction Company.




Today: Rep. Doug Funderburk (56), and happy belated birthday to Deanna Borland who celebrated yesterday.



Get Well, Jane

Sen. Jane Cunningham was taken to the ER at Saint Mary’s after she was unable to stand on the Senate floor. She was then admitted overnight. But Camp Cunningham says they expect her back at the Capitol before the end of session this week.