Monday, May 16, 2011

Here’s the MOScout Schedule this week… Today just some thoughts on session. Tomorrow few more session follow-ups and a dump of stray bits, and nuggets.  Wednesday and Thursday legislators’ grades.  No Update on Friday. We’re out of session so the Daily goes back to Monday-Thursday. 




What Passed

Most of what passed can be put into one of three categories: political posturing, legislative minutiae, and “must pass” bills.  Pretty much everything else died.


Political Posturing – These are the bills which the lobbying corps has no interest in. When they come onto the floor, the lobbyists head to hang out in the rotunda or linger in offices.  This is the red meat of stump speeches and have little practical impact on most Missourians.  This includes: constitutional amendment securing the right to pray (just in case the First frickin Amendment weren’t enough), Voter ID, abortion bill, drug testing poor folks, a special license plate or two, and helping the 21 and 22 year olds who wanted a conceal and carry permit.


Legislative Minutiae – This is daily work of the state legislature, and where lobbyists earn their keep the bills, shepherding small bills practically no one cares about and most will never hear about through the process with as little friction as possible.  This includes: land conveyance, profession registration tweaks, minor tax law adjustments, updating regulations within specific industries…


Must Pass – This is basically the budget bills.  Though also FRA money this session.  You don’t pass these and the state grinds to a halt.



What Didn’t Pass

Nearly everything else.  The exceptions: Redistricting, Franchise tax phase-out, Prop B fix.


The session has to be considered a failure with such vast swaths of public policy that died: Tax credit reform, economic development, Prop C fix, CWIP-lite, local control, Turner fix, foundation formula fix, charter school expansion, most of Fix the Six, pseudoephedrine prescription.


Most of these, if not all, had majority support in both chambers and either were gummed up by Democrats in the Senate or ensnarled by Republican infighting.



Senate-House Hatin’

First, What I Wrote April 20, MOScout

“Relations between the Senate and House leadership are now at their lowest level since session began.  A deterioration of trust and communication will mean that the usual end-of-session back-and-forth between the two chambers will fraught with greater difficulty than usual.  That means less gets passed, more gets caught in the crossfire.”



In hindsight, the most important date this session was November 4 when Sens. Rob Mayer and Kevin Engler drew lots to decide who would lead the senate and Mayer prevailed.  Had Engler risen to pro tem, the House-Senate relations would never have deteriorated to the extent that they did.


Although Mayer and Speaker Steve Tilley seemed to be getting along fine in the first half of session, their relationship clearly changed when the redistricting process drew to an impasse.  In one especially tense meeting the two exchanged accusations that the other wasn’t be straight, and things never  recovered.


How bad was it? I had one lobbyist who had been trying to pass a big bill explain his role the previous late night.  It was shuttle diplomacy between the two chambers.  And his big victory that morning: “they’re talking to each other.”  He was happy and hopeful because on this final day of session the two chambers were talking to each other.



Labor More Brains than Brawn

At the mid-point, labor looked like the anointed punching bag for the session. On various fronts, things were looking grim. But remarkably, they passed through the gauntlet without any serious, long-term damage.


Minimum Wage Change – DEAD.  Passed House only.

Paycheck Protection – DEAD. House and Senate both passed but couldn’t agree.

Prevailing Wage – DEAD. Various versions in both chambers never got traction.

Right to Work – DEAD. Never seriously attempted in either chamber.

Workers Comp – DEAD. House and Senate both passed, but couldn’t agree.

Discrimination – DEAD. Vetoed by governor, version too harsh to override.



Sens. Tim Green and Victor Callahan stood down on various labor issues, raising some eyebrows.  They let the Chambers’ workers compensation bill through, and what looked like a devastating paycheck protection bill glide through in minutes. 


However in hindsight their strategy was brilliant.  They gave the Senate Republican enough to keep a full-on attack from commencing (minimum wage, prevailing wage and right to work all stalled in the Senate).


Then labor was able to concentrate on fewer targets in the House, and parlay the mistrust between the chambers to prevent any real damage.


On the second to last night, the glee of labor supporters was palpable: they had moved safely out of danger; Republicans continued to fight with one another…


Of course, next year – an election year – will bring it’s renewed challenges for sure, but the mood of the nation might not be so anti-labor by then.



The Lost Art of the Deal

This was the session of the deals that fell apart. 


Unemployment benefits for cuts to stimulus money = Sorry, you misunderstood, we’re only going to “look for” cuts to stimulus money.  Problem: Didn’t include the Appropriations Chair in an appropriations deal.


Collective bargaining for local control = Sorry, this is now an important piece of the tax credit reform puzzle.  Problem: Pro Tem not looking to do the Speaker any favors.


Funding for Office of Public Counsel for Early Site Permit money = Sorry, the real deadline wasn’t May 13.  Problem: Two sides trash talking each other all session can’t be erased in final hour.


Aerotropolis for tax credit reform = Sorry, that’s not what we call tax credit reform.  Problem: House flummoxed by Senate.



$5k+ Contributions

Jay Nixon for Missouri - $25,000 from IBEW Educational Committee.

Jay Nixon for Missouri - $10,000 from IBEW Educational Committee.

Decline to Sign Committee - $25,000 from Husch Blackwell.




Happy birthday to lobbyist Deanna Borland.



The Girl Has Good Timing

Congratulations to Danny Pfeifer on the birth of his second daughter, Olivia Marie, who waited until just after session to enter the world.