Friday, April 1, 2011

Problems and Bigger Ones

Six weeks left in the legislative session and the Senate is a thorny mess.  The past is always more romantic, but the question echoes through the rotunda: would Charlie Shields have ever let things get so far?  Right to work?  Hey let’s worry about passing a budget first…


Here’s the tangle:

The place looks like a lawless chamber given over to roaming vigilantes…


There’s a Gang of 4 – Sens. Jim Lembke, Brian Nieves, Will Kraus and Rob Schaaf – holding up $81 million in unemployment benefits.


There’s an undefined gang questioning the federal education money.  This threat is so acute that the Senate didn’t act on the supplemental budget but will address it with the overall budget.  The strategy makes sense, because if you don’t accept this federal money it creates a fresh hole in next year’s budget.  The two issues are ultimately the same issue.


There’s the Gang of a Few (Maybe Sens. Chuck Purgason, Brad Lager, whoever else they bring along) itching and agitating for tax credits to be reined in, and likely to hold up other EcoDevo bills until they get something.


And finally there’s that tornado – the gang of 1 – Sen. Jason Crowell who, in addition to joining other gangs, says he won’t follow the Senate tradition of deferring to the Appropriations Chair when the budget hits the Senate floor.  That means lots of amendments and lots of time.


Amid these roving gangs, Sen. Tom Dempsey looks like a simple traffic cop. 


And while I love the drama, the real question is: how do you carry real cargo – China Hub tax credits for example, or a foundation formula fix – through the Senate that looks like No Man’s Land…  Well, the blame – in the hallway at least – is starting to fall on Pro Tem Rob Mayer



Lembke’s Great Strength

Sen. Jim Lembke’s greatest strength is that he has no identifiable legislative agenda.  With Crowell at least you can do some last week horse-trading (pension reforms for Ford plant last year).  Where’s the point of leverage with Lembke?  Red light cameras?  With Sen. Brian Nieves? Press parking spaces?



Justus’ Emotional Appeal

Sen. Jolie Justus spoke on a point of personal privilege Friday.  Hear it Here.  She decried those who say that Lembke “owns” the unemployment benefits issue, saying that the body itself has failed.



Kinder’s Prebuttal

Thanks to the magic of Combest, we have Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder’s response to a Post-Dispatch article slated for this weekend that focuses on his travel expenditures. Read it Here. The article will look at his hotel stays.


Kinder is known to St. Louis civvies as living at the Chase. Reporter Jake Wagman’s piece apparently takes him to task for such tony digs.  Of course, St. Louisans would rather have Kinder at the Chase in the heart fo the city than using Orbitz to get the cheap Motel 6 rate in the outskirts of town.


The story is knee-jerk Nixon minions’ response to criticism.  They’re incapable of mustering even the non-owning “mistakes were made,” rather it’s always point the finger at others.




Here’s the House Redistricting map where you can zoom in and take a sharp look at those lines.



The Sierra Club moves beyond its typical issue universe and comes out against Right to Work.  They cite last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill as anecdotal evidence that non-union workers produce greater environmental damage.



Nice employment numbers this morning.  Unemployment down to 8.8%  Things headed in right direction and  looking better for Barack Obama and Democrats with another 18 months to 2012 Election Day.



Sen. Tim Green put a hold on the governor’s re-nomination of John J. Hickey to the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission.



Sen. Jason Crowell growled his disagreement with the House redistricting map.  Read it Here.



Love Under the Big Dome

Shawn Furey and Melissa DeStefano became engaged yesterday.  Furey is chief of staff to Sen. Eric Schmitt, and DeStefano is Sen. Scott Rupp’s head staffer on loan to the Senate Redistricting Committee.



$5k+ Contributions

Committee for a Responsible Water Solution - $20,000 from American Water.

Freedom Incorporated - $20,000 from Industry Advancement Fun Heavy Constructors.

Vote KC - $15,000 from David Fenley.

CWA District 6 – $5,685 from Political Education Committee CWA COPE.

Associated Industries of MO-PAC - $6,000 from Anheuser-Busch.

Lewis & Clark Regional Leadership Fund - $10,000 from Certified Processing Corp.

Jay Nixon for Missouri - $10,000 from Jeffrey Byrne & Associates.



Lobbyist Principal Changes

From the Pelopidas website:


Deanna Borland added Steve Carroll & Associates.

Mike Gibbons and Tricia Workman added City of Chesterfield.

David Klarich added Steve Carroll.




Sunday, Rep. Ron Schieber turns 51. And former state representative Charles Portwood turns 48.