Thursday, April 21, 2011

Christmas for Consultants

Get ready to play dominoes in West St. Louis County… The talk is heating up, and here’s the deal… John Brunner, John Schmunner, whatever… Congressman Todd Akin seems in for Senate… That’ll put Sen. Jane Cunningham teeing up a Cunningham for Congress committee (amid a spirited primary)… and… Rep. Cole McNary leaping for her Senate seat (again, no reason there won’t be a healthy primary)… The best guess would be that Rep. Tim Jones stays put to claim the Speaker’s chair, but you could see other lesser representatives particularly depending on how the state House and Senate lines are drawn… And of course the Loudons will be running for something. 

 

But What It Really Means

The heightened chatter about these scenarios would seem to indicate that a compromise congressional redistricting map is much closer to a reality than it was 48 or even 24 hours ago.  I’ll be surprised if the conference committee tonight (see below) doesn’t unveil a new map, and it’s not passed quickly thereafter.

 

 

Redistricting Conference

Tonight at 6:45pm (House Lounge), the Senate and House will conference over their differing redistricting maps.  The House is out of session today, but prepared to return tomorrow should a compromise emerge.  That is presumably the chief task all day of the map-masters.  Conferees: Sens. Scott Rupp, Jason Crowell, Brad Lager, Victor Callahan, and Robin Wright-Jones; Reps. John Diehl, Stanley Cox, Tom Loehner, Penny Hubbard and Jamilah Nasheed.

 

 

Where’s My Budget Battle?

Yesterday the Senate dispensed with the budget.  Sen. Jason Crowell didn’t make waves; Sen. Jim Lembke didn’t get his $250 million cut; and everyone seemed to go about their business.   Move along folks…

 

 

What Senate Will Mayer Leave?

When Pro Tem Rob Mayer ruled the CWIP-lite bill out of order, he crossed a new and unprecedented threshold , according to old-time Senate watchers.

 

From one former staffer, “This was the first time in history of the Missouri Senate that a Senate Committee Substitute (SCS) has been ruled out.  True, nothing in the rules prohibits Mayer’s ruling and you can do whatever you want as long as nobody objects, but I think yesterday’s ruling is a seminal moment in the history of the senate.”

 

Another observer finds the entry of the point of order in the Senate Journal “curious” because there’s a detailed explanation of the new maneuver. This indicates that it was planned well in advance, and the talking points were created in case anyone objected.  It was then entered into the Journal to create a record of the new precedent.

 

If the SCS to SB 48 is out of order, then pretty much any amendment to any bill is out of order unless you’re merely changing a word or percentage inside the original bill.  Thus, the pro tem can now rule anything out of order – such rulings have been common in the House of Representatives, but not the Senate.

 

Fear for the Future

In this way Mayer’s ruling moves the Senate one step closer to becoming like the House and depending on which way you look at it – that could be a good or a bad thing.  For the many new senators who came from the House, that’s probably a good thing.  It’s more power to the pro tem, less power for committee chairs. 

 

A New Excuse?

Committee chairs are now free to lump everything in a bill and leave it up to the pro tem to rule everything not in the original bill out of order, telling stakeholders and colleagues “I tried.” 

 

However, if the pro tem does follow this precedent and starts making a habit of such parliamentary rulings, then he runs the risk of antagonizing his own committee chairs. 

 

Test Coming

The final weeks should provide a test for the extent to which this new precedent will be applied as new vehicles are sought for legislation which has stalled.  When bills are completely transformed in committees to carry the new legislation, will that be the kiss of death?  It used to be the way things got to the finish line.

 

18 Votes

The Senate is a tiger you ride the tiger with 18 votes.  A pro tem can do anything 18 senators will allow. And 18 votes can undo anything a pro tem allows.

 

 

And About CWIP-lite

I think there’s a reasonable chance at a compromise if the utilities are willing to go more than halfway to Sen. Jason Crowell’s worldview.  Here’s the other side:

 

“CWIP-lite is dead.  Speaker Steve Tilley, Sen. Brad Lager and Mayer have all gotten the talking points that if they have ambitions of being on the statewide ballot next November, having a weak Governor Jay Nixon on the ballot is critical.  Therefore don’t dare give Nixon a win with his labor constituents.”  In this view, even if the utilities cave and give Crowell everything, this bill still won’t make it across the finish line come May 13th. 

 

 

Depends What Your Definition of Debate Is

When I wrote a week or so ago that the plan on CWIP-lite was likely it being ruled out of order, follow by a compromise, some advocates for the legislation thought I had it wrong because they’d been promised that the bill would be allowed to be debated.

 

Well it was debated. For an hour that is, before being ruled out of order.  Maybe there was a promise.  If so, that’s kind of a crummy way to fulfill your promise.

 

 

Quote of the Day

“You guys cover the legislature… A day can seem like a week sometimes a week can seem like a day.” – Governor Jay Nixon.  See it Here.

 

 

Lobbyists Principal Changes

From the Pelopidas website:

 

Mark Rhoads added Triumph Foods.

 

 

$5k+ Contributions

Elect Dr. Jim Ottomeyer - $16,522 from St. Charles County Paramedics Association.

Jay Nixon for Missouri - $10,000 from Bank of America Political Action Committee.

 

 

Birthdays

Rep. Paul Curtman celebrates the big 3-0. Former Rep. Maynard Wallace turns 68.  And happy birthdays as well to powerbroker David Barklage and MO Chamber’s Dan Mehan.