Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wyatt Comes Out

Rep. Zach Wyatt announced that he was gay yesterday.  He’s a Republican, so it created a stir. One organization claimed that he is now the only openly gay Republican serving in any state legislature in America.  Google has 247 news stories this morning.  Wyatt is not running for reelection.



About the Budget Conference Committee

The conference committee – to work out differences between the House and Senate budgets – was cancelled yesterday.  Today (right now in fact, 8:30am) they will meet.


One observer thinks that House Budget Chair Ryan Silvey and Senate Appropriations Chair Kurt Schaefer want to wait as long as possible. If they bring the conference committee report closer to the constitutional deadline it will force the “dissidents” to choose between their small prizes and possibility of pushing the legislature into a special session.


A second observer smiles, “I have seen Schaefer making several trips to the House side of the building…”



It was being said late last night that Silvey and Schaefer had mostly determined how to bridge the differences between the budgets.  The one sticky situation seems to be SB 498…



SB 498: Funding Veterans’ Nursing Homes

Yesterday the House attached their funding mechanism (redirecting casino fees) for veterans’ nursing homes to Sen. Brian Munzlinger’s SB 498.  Read David Lieb’s story Here.


Pull Quote: “This will solve our problem and allow us to be able to move forward in the budget conference process, develop a balanced budget and fully fund our veterans’ homes,” said House Budget Committee Chairman Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City.


One observer viewed it as the “first major play in gamesmanship to outflank Sen. Jason Crowell on budget.”


But the word circulating last night was that Pro Tem Rob Mayer had refused to accept the bill back from the House, creating an impasse – and a hole in the budget…



Local Government Train Wreck

In other news, Sen. Jason Crowell, after watching two days of debate in the Senate, offered an amendment to the omnibus local government bill which would repeal prevailing wage.  That amendment immediately brought the omnibus bill to a halt as Sen. Victor Callahan made clear he would filibuster its inclusion.




Floor Leader Tom Dempsey circulated a schedule for the Senate which listed session tomorrow (Friday) as “tentative.”



Franchise Bill

SB 837 – defining alcohol wholesaler franchises – may come up in the House today (Read it Here).  This bill initially was considered uncontroversial.  But opposition has gathered over the last few weeks.  It’s now thought that this bill would flounder in the Senate where it passed 28-5 just three weeks ago.  As a result proponents want to pass the Senate version as is, so it goes directly to the governor’s desk.  Opponents will attempt to attach an amendment in order that it must travel back to the Senate…



Setbacks and Advances for House Education Bills

In the morning, “Bryce’s Law” was defeated when Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst proposed it as an amendment to Rep. Jeff Grisamore’s HB 1854.  Bryce’s Law would create a tax credit for donations to a scholarship fund to help special needs students pay for tuition.  Critics see it as the camel’s nose to a voucher program.  It failed 51-104.



In the early afternoon Rep. Jamilah Nasheed’s HB 1466 was voted on in the Senate Education Committee.  Sen. Kurt Schaefer remarked, upon hearing the words “no cap” on the bill’s funding mechanism (“any science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) business in the state may make a donation to a math and science tutoring center and retain half of the value of its donation from its withholding. There is no cap on the amount of withholdings allowed to be retained”), “That’s bad.”  The committee then voted 0-9 against the bill.



And then later in the afternoon, the effort to weaken teacher tenure (HB 1526) barely crawled forward by the slim margin of 80-78.  Republicans need to pick up two more votes in the next vote to meet the constitutional majority.  It’s said they’ll go back to the bill today (“You don’t give them time to send out those ‘Action Alert’ emails!”).  Two absences – Reps. Tishaura Jones and Jerry Nolte – are thought to be Ayes.  But one Republican working the votes predicted a little more breathing space with 84 Ayes…



The Big Picture

In the hallway, Woody Cozad lamented that Republicans across the nation have stumbled in fits and tugs for a decade, losing their ability to stake a strong claim to the education issue.  According to this view the national Democratic Party is so intertwined with the NEA that they were beholden to the specific interests of that narrow constituency.  Republicans could have taken the public policy high-ground and cast Democrats as obstructionists to education reforms. It was teed up as the perfect issue to win Independents and the much-coveted soccer-mom demographic whose swing can determine an election.


But instead of Republicans seizing the issue, their party has been unable to unify behind an agenda due, in part, to their own special interests constituents, as embodied by rural superintendents.  As a result you see the sort of wacky coalitions like yesterday’s teacher tenure vote where some urban Democrats and suburban Republicans join together against rural Republicans allied with orthodox liberal Democrats.


And any potential partisan branding of championing education reforms is lost.




Firefighters endorsed Gina Walsh in Senate 13.



April’s state revenues perked up.  “Net general revenue collections for April 2012 increased by 6.9 percent compared to those for April 2011.”  That brings the year-to-date revenue collections to +3.1%.



Haggling continues on workers comp.  Among the issues, defining asbestos in a way which is actually meaningful to Missouri cases, the amounts on “enhanced benefits,” and whether the fragile coalition can survive without the inclusion of the Second Injury Fund.




The Story of Nixon and Clay

“Nixon endorses Clay… Everything goes back to 1992.  The Democratic primary for Attorney General had two perceived front-runners, State Sen. Jay Nixon (who had been the nominee for the U.S. Senate in 1988 against Jack Danforth) and Mike Wolff, the St. Louis University Law Professor who was the nominee for AG in 1988 against Bill Webster.


“The Clays – State Sen. Lacy Clay and U.S. Congressman Bill Clay, Sr. – endorsed Nixon.   (After the primary, which Nixon won, the nominee for Governor, Mel Carnahan, brought Wolff on as a top campaign aide, then as General Counsel once Mel was Governor, and then appointed Wolff to the state Supreme Court.)”



Lobbyists’ Principals Changes

From the Pelopidas website:


John C. Cozad added Educational Services of America.



Lobbyist Registration Exegesis

Jim Farrell’s recent registration to represent Siete LLC appears related to the historic tax credit program.



Polsinelli’s recent registration of Lockton Inc appears to be related to the creation of “series LLC” in Missouri.  According to Wikipedia: “This method of liability segregation was first called the ‘Delaware Series LLC’ because it was first approved in Delaware. As of April 2005, Iowa and Oklahoma already had passed similar acts. Later in 2005, Illinois and Nevada followed suit. Tennessee and Utah passed legislation effective in 2006. Wisconsin passed a stripped-down version of the series LLC legislation. Series LLC enabling legislation was signed into law in Texas in 2009.”



$5K+ Contributions

Missourians Against Costly Mandates - $15,000 from Union Pacific.

Clean Water STL - $50,000 from Goodwin Brothers.

Kander for Missouri - $10,000 from Gori, Julian & Associates, P.C.

Missourians for Health and Education - $9,000 from American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.




Happy birthdays to Polsinelli’s Susan Henderson Moore, the once and future Rep. Mike Frame, Will Kraus’ Megan Wolfe, and Roy Temple.