Thursday, January 13, 2011

Senate Committees

Senate Committees were announced yesterday.  See the full listing Here.  Here the highlights and point of interest:


As expected Sen. Kurt Schaefer was named Chair of Appropriations. With the Republican majority at a historic high, few observers would forecast a change in control of the chamber over the next three cycles.  That means that Schaefer – along with others in his class – is poised to hold this chairmanship for six years.  That a tremendous boon for Schaefer (and the others in his situation which I note below).  With six years at the helm, they really have the ability to shape policy in their specific area.


The bump in the road of this thinking is that the current budget problems will necessitate some cuts in higher education and social services.  Schaefer’s district has institutions which will be hurt by those cuts and he will have to take the blame when they come, which in turn may make him vulnerable in the Democratic-lean district in his 2012 reelection.


Freshmen named to Appropriations were Sens. Dan Brown, Will Kraus, and Rob Schaaf. Sen. Scott Rupp was named Vice-Chair of Appropriations.



As I forecasted (or “guessed”) Sen. Brian Munzlinger was the sole freshman to land a chairmanship.  He took the chair of Agriculture Committee, and fellow freshman Sen. Mike Parson was named Vice-Chair.  Munzlinger’s appointment gives him eight full years to run the Ag Committee.  That’ll presumably help him retain that seat in a tough district in 2014.



Sen. David Pearce retained the Education Committee chairmanship.  One observer was surprised that Sen. Jane Cunningham, who was thought to covet that chairmanship didn’t receive the Vice-Chair position as a consolation.  (That went to Sen. Brian Nieves.)  But as another remarked she’s in the same class as Pearce so Vice-Chair doesn’t set her up for the chairmanship down the road and is less significant.  Pearce has six years before he’s termed.


Sen. Cunningham did receive the chairmanship of the vague General Laws Committee.  The scuttlebutt around is that some of her more controversial education proposals will get referred to General Laws, making it a mini-Education Committee if you will.  Nieves is Vice-Chair of this committee also.  He and House Education chair Scott Dieckhaus are famously unfriendly.



Sen. Bill Stouffer stayed on as chair of Transportation.  But unlike Pearce, Schaefer et al, he only has two years remaining before he’s term limited.  The Vice-Chair, freshman Sen. Mike Kehoe, is in line then to ascend to this chairmanship in 2014.  Kehoe served on the Highway Commission and makes sense in that spot.



Sen. Jason Crowell also only has two years left.  He remained chair of the grab-bag Pensions, Veteran Affairs, Urban Affairs and Emerging Issues Committee.  His Vice-Chair is freshman Sen. Brown, but one observer thinks freshman Sen. John Lamping who’s also on the committee is a more natural successor to Crowell given his investment experience.


Sen. Brad Lager stays as Commerce Committee chair.  Sen. Lamping is named Vice-Chair. As I wrote yesterday this should be a fun committee this year with the utilities issues bubbling up.



Sen. Kevin Engler was assigned chairmanship of the Finance Committee which fits nicely with his career in investments.  Freshman Sen. Jay Wasson is Vice-Chair.



Sen. Jim Lembke was named chair of the Government Accountability Committee.  This committee is a shell of its former self as the Fiscal Oversight powers are now located in Ways and Means (below).  Still it’s a good fit for Lembke who will enjoy rooting around for the mythical “waste, fraud and abuse” in state government.  This and Ways and Means are both smaller committees, only five members – 4 Republicans and 1 Democrat.  The sole Democrat on these two committees is freshman Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal



Sen. Chuck Purgason recaptured his Fiscal Oversight power as Ways and Means Chair.  Any bill with a fiscal note in excess of $100,000 will be referred to Ways and Means.  Purgason used that power last session to do more than provide oversight.  It became Purgason’s mini-veto power.  President pro tem Rob Mayer has taken a dangerous path by yielding the power back to Purgason.  I expected Mayer to make new mistakes not repeat those of Charlie Shields who has to strip Purgason of that committee in the crunch time of special session last summer.  Also on this five person committee are Sen. Lager and two of his allies, Sen. Will Kraus and Sen. Ron Richard.


Sen. Eric Schmitt was named chair of Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government Committee. It’s a good committee assignment for Schmitt, especially in a year like this when jobs is the number one issue.  Although Schmitt represents St. Louis County he had a good relationship with St. Louis City mayor Francis Slay, and his appointment is good news for the city as well as the county.  

Like Schaefer and Pearce, Schmitt will have six years to dig in at EcoDevo.  His House partners (Rep. Anne Zerr on EcoDevo and Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger on local government) are both from St. Charles.  Between St. Louis City, County and St. Charles something like 60% of the state’s economic activity is represented.  Freshman Sen. Ron Richard was named Vice-Chair.

Sen. Scott Rupp remains as chair of Small Business and Insurance.  Freshman Sen. Mike Parson is Vice-Chair.  But of course Rupp also has the spotlight committee of Redistricting.  Sen. Brad Lager is Vice-Chair of Redistricting.  Also on Redistricting are: Sens. Jason Crowell, David Pearce, and Democratic Sens. Victor Callahan and Robin Wright-Jones.

Sen. Luann Ridgeway was named chair of Health, Mental Health, Seniors and Families Committee.   But the bigger news is that Sen. Rob Schaaf gets Vice-Chair.  When Ridgeway is termed in two years, he’ll be in-line to take over the following six years.  That’s terrible news for the Hospital Association which has tried to kill Schaaf’s political career over the years and only created a larger enemy.

Sen. Jack Goodman takes over the Judiciary Committee which it is said he sought.  Sen. Schmitt is Vice-Chair.

Finally Republicans continued their tradition of giving Democrats a committee – Progress and Development – of which Minority Leader Callahan is chair.


Mixed Messages

Auditor Tom Schweich announced that he would run the Auditor’s office completely non-partisan, and then unveiled his new team of entirely Republican political operatives/ bureaucrats. 


The most interesting of the additions was Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder’s press-man Gary McElyea.  That seemingly completes the dismantling of Kinder’s old team.  Look for the rebuilding of that machine – designed with the 2012 dance in mind – to begin.

This morning the Accounts Committee is holding it organization meeting.  Look for the legislative assistants to pile into the hearing room in case the new work rules are being discussed or voted on.


Last night Republicans nominated “Chip” Wood to be their candidate in April for St. Louis County Assessor.  Dems put out a statement questioning Wood’s motivation for running - “Chip Wood is a real estate mogul who stands to directly profit from higher assessments on our homes.  We simply shouldn’t elect someone who can earn more money by making us paying higher taxes.”     Democrats will nominate Rep. Jake Zimmerman tonight. 

It’s a twist of fate for Richard Moore.  He provided counsel to PSC Chairman Robert Clayton when they were passing rules to require Missouri utilities to buy wind.  Now that he’s on-board as a Missouri Chamber lobbyist, look for him to be testifying in support of SCR 1 (Prop C Rule-making powers) and against the PSC.


Lobbyist Principal Changes

From the Pelopidas website:


Michael Gibbons added the Missouri Bar.

Nancy Giddens added Advantage Metals Recycling LLC.


Brent Hemphill added Missouri Pork Association and the Missouri Bar.


Rodney Boyd deleted Smith Electric Vehicles US Corp.


Shanon Hawk deleted Courthouse News Service, Holcim Inc, and Coalition for Speed Enforcement.



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Freedom of Road Riders PAC - $10,979 from Freedom of Road Riders Inc.