Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Talent Out

Politico’s Dave Catanese says that Jim Talent has decided against a U.S. Senate run.  The indications had been building – his lack of visibility even as others began floating their names – but Talent had been regularly mentioned as a potential candidate.


Now that seems to have changed.


This clears the way for Ed Martin and Ann Wagner, both of whom have both expressed interest in the race, and also shown deference to Talent, to step up their temperature-taking of Republican donors and activists.  


While the possibility of a free-for-all looms, if both jump and Rep. Sam Graves as well.  Plus the St. Louis Beacon this morning adds Rep. Jo Ann Emerson to the list, though that may be more smoke than fire.  


The best guess right now is for something tamer, maybe a two-way Steelman-Martin primary.



Local Control Faces Opposition in the House

HB 71, the bill which would allow local control of the St. Louis Police Department, passed the Rules Committee yesterday unanimously.


But now it faces harsher prospects.  Passing the full House is not a slam-duck despite the support of Speaker Steve Tilley.  At play are several factors:


First, Floor Leader Tim Jones is ambivalent about the bill.  This is one of the few places where there appears light between the speaker and his floor leader.


Second, some Freshmen Republicans, who recently caucused as a group (see below), are questioning where local control fits into the mandate they heard from the voters last November.  They’re more interested in railing against ObamaCare and shriveling government than trying to navigate the labyrinths of St. Louis City politics.  Still the case is being made to Tea Party types that local control is a natural extension of their “get government out of my back yard” philosophy.


The question is how many of these representatives peel off, and whether Rep. Jamilah Nasheed can rally the necessary Democratic numbers to offset those deserting.


And of course there are problems waiting in the Senate… and we’ll get a first glimpse at those today in the Progress and Development Committee where I wouldn’t be surprised if Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal voices opposition.



Franchise Tax Cut/Cap Coming

Today in the Senate Economic Development Committee, Sen. Eric Schmitt will introduce his bills to cut or cap the franchise tax in Missouri.


It’s a typical big business wish-list fodder.


The franchise tax accounts for about $85 million to the state.


One bill would cap the franchise tax at $2 million.  Right now the largest corporation pays $1.9 million.  Thus the effect of that bill would be simply to stop any increase at the top end. 


The other bill would phase out the tax over five years and budget-wise is a little more problematic.  It carries a $15 million fiscal note.


The case for reining in the tax is that it’s a “double tax” on assets which discourages investment. Still although the tax costs the biggest big businesses over $1million, it’s probably not a game-changer in terms of whether to relocate or expand facilities. 



And They Shall Call Her “Map-Drawer”

At yesterday’s Senate Redistricting Committee, Melissa DeStefano, formerly Sen. Scott Rupp’s chief of staff, was voted to be the lead staff person for their committee.  She’ll be the “chief map-drawer.”  But don’t expect her to talk.  Rupp noted that 42 of the 50 states faced lawsuits to their maps ten years ago and advised all the committee members to be mindful of their dealings with the press and the public.


The magic number, by the way, is 728,716.  That’s how many people will be in each congressional district.  Every district will change; every district will grow.


The committee will be retaining legal counsel to help guard against those seemingly inevitable lawsuits.  Rupp said they’re looking for a firm with no ties to any of the congressional offices and one that specializes in redistricting matters.  Seems like a tall order, likely to send the search out of the state.


Stay tuned, the fun is just beginning….




Jarad Falk, former chief of staff to Sen. Kevin Engler, has registered to lobby for Time Warner.



The hearing to repeal Prop B was off the hook yesterday with an overflow crowd.  Two in-the-know sources say that there will be “tweaks” to the statute, but no out-right repeal.  Says one who’s in a position to say so: “No repeal. Take it to the bank.”



I don’t know why this makes me giggle, but it does – and it makes me want to sue somebody: Texas sues Amazon for $269 million in missing sales taxes.  Nice.



Two new House committees announced yesterday: Special on Renewable Energy chaired by Rep. Jason Holsman.  He’ll look after the Prop C rule-making saga among other topics.  And Special on Disabilities Services chaired by Rep. Jeff Grisamore.  He wasn’t on the initial committee chair list while up for consideration for a cabinet spot in Brownback administration.




The Republican House freshmen recently caucused.  It’s said that Reps. Todd Richardson and Caleb Jones were the organizers.  One source says that the group has felt pinched by a series of process issues – from the discussion on a ban on lobbyists’ gifts, to the LA work rules to the push for local control.  While nothing is imminent, it’s worth watching as their sheer numbers could help shape future leadership races.



Lobbyist Principal Changes

From the Pelopidas website:


Sam Licklider added A-1 Premium Acceptance.



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