Tuesday, October 11, 2011

GOP Senate Caucus Today

Senate Republicans will caucus this afternoon.  They’ll run through the economic development bill passed by the House, explain the differences between their versions, and then discuss next steps.


There are two main options: go to conference with the House over the differences, or decide to give up on it. 


One aspect of the House version which may receive ambivalent reaction from the Senate is the cut in corporate income tax.  Generally Republicans embrace tax cuts, but there’s no way to predict how the addition of this new provision will strike the fiscal hawks, or the moderates…



The other topic which will receive time in caucus is HB 3 dealing with scheduling the presidential primary.  The Senate will likely decide to change the nominating process to a caucus system.  That would save the state about $8 million as the party apparatus takes over the process from the county clerks.  The matter has some urgency because under the primary system those clerks would have to start mailing absentee ballots in December.



Solon for Caucus Chair?

Rep. Sheila Solon is seriously considering running for House leadership.  She’s eying the Caucus Chair position. 


Who is Sheila Solon?  Solon earned a reputation as a hard-charging, straight-talking legislator while serving on the Blue Springs City Council.  And she started her time in Jeff City much the same way.  But this leadership bid demonstrates that she’s quickly wising up to the ways of Jefferson City.


As a result she’s working on increasing her fundraising, and she’s touting the accolades she’s received as top of her freshmen class in constituent service and communication.  She’s done three mailers already, held two hall meetings and made constituent service a high priority.


Solon received the legislative award from Veterans of Foreign Wars for her bill to create a special veteran’s lottery ticket to fund veterans’ homes.  It passed the House but died in the Senate last year.


The current Caucus Chair is Rep. Shelley Keeney




Last week, during a pause in EcoDevo debate, Rep. Caleb Jones introduced a resolution to support Congressional funding of the F-35, some kind of aero-killer to help us sleep at night.


Now there’s a minor uproar because Boeing which makes a competing fighter-jet feels slighted.  Governor Jay Nixon, who brushed off Mamtek criticism because according to his organizational chart he doesn’t run DED, weighs in.  Read it Here.


How does it ever get to this?  Well, if you’re a freshman legislator like Jones who came to Jefferson City to have an impact, and a lobbyist comes up and asks you to carry a resolution to support a business, you take it.  And as a freshman, you take them at their word that it’s a good piece of paper – maybe without asking too many questions.


Who gave Jones the resolution?  He’s mum to APRead it Here.


The guesses would include F-35 supplier Innoventor  (lobbyist: Sherry Doctorian);  Lockheed supplier EaglePicher Technologies (lobbyists Gary Burton, Chris Liese, Jim Foley at al).  And consultant Jeff Roe has some relationship to the F-35.  Roe usually exercises the professional discipline of staying out of the legislative side of things, but everyone’s a suspect in this game of Clue.  


We may never know who gave Jones the resolution.  However we do know that they caught the Boeing lobbyists (Dick and Sam Wiles) flat-footed, and now the Boeing folks are obviously working double-time to play catch-up.  Assuming the House comes back at some point, one expects Boeing to press for their own resolution.  Lots of work for something that has no practical impact…


As for Jones, you want to be in the arena, you’re going to get muddy (and bloody) from time to time.  



Sen. Will Kraus is the Senate handler of the resolution.



Kander Kick-off Coming

Rep. Jason Kander will hold his Kansas City kick-off at the home of Stephen Bough, date to be determined.


Who is Stephen Bough?  One of the top Democratic donors in Kansas City.  Not only does he write checks himself (successful trial attorney), but he’s a hub in the KC Dem spoke.  He chairs the Jackson County Democratic Committee.  This cycle, Sen. Claire McCaskill, Attorney General Chris Koster and State Treasurer Clint Zweifel have all launched their western kick-offs from Bough’s home.


It’s one more sign of Kander nailing down support.



What About Ryan?

One source close to Sen. Ryan McKenna says he thinks there’ll be a decision sooner rather than later.  Don’t look for a public announcement, but he’ll start circulating word privately within a week or two.   If he jumps, he’ll enjoy strong and swift support from labor.  Overall, still a coin toss.  This confidant says it’s 60/40 that McKenna gets in.



Child Care Regulations

The Post-Dispatch continues it series today about Missouri’s lax child care regulations, resulting in 45 deaths of children from 2007 to 2010.


Today they outline previous attempts to change the law which have failed.  Read it Here.


One obstacle has been from those who fear meddling in religious providers.  And the Post points out that none of the deaths occurred in those childcare setting.  But other unlicensed places of child care accounted for 41 of the 45 deaths. 


Expect a push on this issue next year.



Follow-up Bits on Renew MO and PSC

From someone inside the process: “The Public Service Commission investigation isn’t about current costs but pending EPA regulations. It can actually help renewables because it may demonstrate how expensive coal may become if all the regulations are imposed. The higher costs for non-fossil generation may look good compared to how costs may rise if coal is too heavily regulated.”


In other words, this is a forward-looking study, not a backward looking one. 




It’s said that Renew Missouri is going to be joined by Operation Free in their effort to advance their ballot initiative.   Operation Free argues for renewals on a national security basis.  (See Website Here).



Tilley Train Chugs On

Look for $572K raised when Speaker Steve Tilley filed his October quarter later this week.  Because he’s eschewed fundraising during regular session, Team Tilley is working very hard right now to fill out their 2012 budget before January.  (See another $10K check below).  Their plan would have them tracking $350K- $400K in the final quarter this year.



No Love for LaRussa

It’s hard to criticize the manager of a 12-3 win, so I’ll re-read the old critiques… Hate on LaRussa Here.



$5K+ Contributions

United Parcel Service Inc PAC Missouri - $9,500 from United Parcel Service Inc. PAC 55

Friends of Tilley - $10,000 from Noranda Aluminum.




Happy birthday to Rep. Jeanne Kirkton (58).