Thursday, April 28, 2011

Watch the Senate Work

The mercurial chamber of the Missouri Senate seemingly transformed itself for a day into a workable body, moving long-stuck legislation through its gummy process with relative ease and speed.


They passed daunting pieces which have loomed over the chamber all session – congressional redistricting, tax credit reform, Aerotropolis, Compete Missouri.  Yes it took hours and hours, but they did it. 


Redistricting: Who Blinked?

One source says that the pivotal moment was in the Senate Republican Caucus on Tuesday when they decided that they would not use a PQ on their own members to move a map through.  The thinking was that they’d already passed a map, and had other alternatives they could pass.  So they bristled at being “forced” by the House to “blow up” the Senate.


The other motivating factor was the calendar.  Working against the fifteen-day period that the governor has to veto legislation passed during legislative session, both sides were anxious to make it happen.


They feared that if Governor Jay Nixon had the four months until veto session, he would be able to pick off term-limited Republicans and make a House override even harder.  The farther fear was that if the map is challenged in court after September’s veto session, certainty might not come until early 2012.  That would have created “chaos” amid the burgeoning political aspirants – Akin for Senate, Cunningham for Congress etc…


In the end, it was Sen. Scott Rupp and Rep. John Diehl around a computer with some technical staff, drawing the lines, shuffling enough in Jefferson County and St. Charles County that neither really ceded their core, but each had something to hold as a victory… we call it “politics.”


See the Map Here.


Map Bits

Rupp and Sen. Tom Dempsey are both in the Blaine Luetkemeyer district.  One pol jokes that there would be a joint press conference tomorrow; the two St. Charles senators would be joined by former senators Chuck Gross and Steve Ehlmann to have them all simultaneously announce they were filing exploratory committees for Congress.  It was a quip playing on Luety’s fear of a St. Chuck primary.


The 1st District (Russ Carnahan / Lacy Clay) was untouched from previous incarnations.  I reiterate that Carnahan can win this district, based on demographics.  Clay disagrees. Hear him tell the mighty Jason Rosenbaum so Here


Sen. Robin Wright-Jones didn’t sign the conference committee report.  Minority Leader Victor Callahan did, as well as House Dems Jamilah Nasheed and Penny Hubbard.




Amazingly Sen. Eric Schmitt’s dream of an airport city in the clouds of St. Louis took a big leap forward last night.  The China Hub/Aerotropolis $480 million tax credit program was attached to Sen. Chuck Purgason’s tax credit reform.  Also joining that Jabba the Hub bill was MOSIRA, the sporting events tax credit, Nixon’s Compete Missouri. 


The huge victory for Schmitt came after months of labor.  One critical point came recently when he met with Purgason and the two came to an understanding that the tax credit reforms he coveted would be stopped by Schmitt unless he embraced the Hub deal.  In return Purgy gets his reform framework: sunsets and caps – and most importantly a net positive fiscal note… $1.5 billion over 15 year.  For those doing the math that’s 2026.


Meanwhile the St. Louis business community – enticed by wings of lust – became more and more acclimated to taking some chips off the historic preservation table and in order to redeploy them at Lambert Airport.


Schmitt toiled in hand-to-hand diplomacy mode.  He assuaged senatorial fear that the new economic development organization written into the bill was a “landing spot for RCGA’s Dick Fleming,” and that the tax credits were “another Paul McKee give-away.”  And he gave Purgs the sugar of bill sponsorship, affecting the fiscal hawks much like a hand rubbing softly on the belly of a Pit Bull.


Equally critical was Schmitt’s engagement of Sen. Jason Crowell.  Most senators avoid walking into Crowell’s cavernous fourth floor office, hoping that their bill won’t become a target.  (It’s a strategy that doesn’t work; Crowell reads everything, even the consent bills.)  Schmitt laid out the plan, and gave Crowell what the senator from Cape desired above everything else – a positive fiscal note.


The icing on Crowell’s cake was making MOSIRA subject to appropriations, a beach-head in his campaign to conquer fiscal irresponsibility.



And Over in the House

The redistricting map passed the House 96-55.  That vote total cheered some Democrats as its 13 votes short of the magical 109 override number.  (The three Dems voting yes were Reps. Nasheed, Hubbard and Michael Brown.)


But that’s deceptive.  Republicans will come home when the override is on the line.  And adding their current 105 (Sally Faith’s departure is reflected in their number) to the three Democrats, you’re one shy.  Can Speaker Steve Tilley find that one?  I would guess so.


One Dem guesses it doesn’t matter; Nixon signs it, he says.



Emergency? What, Emergency?

Some House Dems were fuming over Governor Jay Nixon’s handling of the Prop B mess.


In particular they think the strategy to push for an emergency clause to the Prop B replacement legislation was ill-conceived.  By adopting an emergency clause to the compromise legislation, the legislation will prevent the efforts – underway right now – by the United Humane Society to collect signatures for a new referendum in 2012.  


The problem is that, according to one knowledgeable House source, when the Humane Society inevitably sues, the courts will probably rule in their favor.  That will do two bad things to Nixon.  


First, it will put the Prop B language back into effect, probably for at least a year while resolution is sought.


And second, it stretches the issue into 2012.  As a fence-sitter, Nixon would rather the issue go away.  Instead he’ll have a balancing act to do for the foreseeable future.



EricDevo to Face Scrutiny

One House source says that the massive economic development bill passed last night in the Senate will be subject to some House slicing.  While the House has passed MOSIRA and Aerotropolis separately, other parts are problematic.  For example House ecodevo leaders are not fond of the Compete Missouri package, worrying that it gives too much discretion to the Department of Economic Development.  “There’s a reason that hasn’t made it to the floor yet this year,” points out one observer.


Look for a lot of changes and some hashing in conference.  Not there yet…



Lobbyist Principal Changes

From the Pelopidas website:


Kathryn Ann Harness added Sandata Technologies and deleted Human Society of the United States.




Happy birthday to Ameren’s Tina Shannon.  And former state representative Brian Yates (36).