Wednesday, May 11, 2011

We’re lumbering toward the finish… things aren’t as peppy and lively as I recall it from final weeks past.  The rotunda is populated with the usual every-day, hard-working lobbyists, but the twice-a-year variety are around this year.  




Sen. Eric Schmitt and Rep. John Diehl – the two principal players in the negotiations on the economic development legislation – have a healthy relationship with open communications.  That’s the good news for those who want to see the Aerotropolis bill pass.


The bad news is that they’re both carrying substantial baggage to the table.


Schmitt has to deal with the fiscal hawks.  Their interest is not limited to the fiscal note – which would clearly be positive regardless of which version was adopted.  They also want sunsets on all the tax credit programs.


Diehl, on the other hand, has members of House leadership who have declared that they will not accept sunsets on the low-income or historic preservative programs.  After listening last summer to St. Louis developers vent about Governor Jay Nixon lying to them about tax credit programs, Speaker Steve Tilley and Floor Leader Tim Jones are very sensitive to not committing the same sin.


The Senate hawks feel that sunsets are the only way to give a review of the efficacy of the programs any teeth.  The House though argues – correctly – that sunsets make the programs’ elimination the default position which means they’re as good as dead.


The hawks have never been this close to substantial reform and they don’t think they’ll ever have a similar confluence of factors to get here again, so they’re intent on seizing the opportunity.  Local control, one of Tilley’s wish-list items, has been added the pot, an indication that they’re looking for every possible angle to pressure the House.


Now Remember

Three days is a lot of time when the legislators and lobbyists are focused like they are in these final days.  There are always many ways to make things happen.  When legislation seems caught in a tussle between two irreconcilable positions, a third element is often introduced to jiggle things free….



Irrelevant Second Floor

Also missing is any real influence from the second floor.  One lobbyist with several notches on his belt asked if there was a single person from the governor’s staff working the halls this week.  Yes. One.  As far as the small clutch of lobbyists could determine… Daniel Hall was outside the House chamber. 


Someone predicted that Governor Jay Nixon would make an appearance in the next day or two and huddle in the office of Pro Tem Rob Mayer office or Speaker Steve Tilley to try to break logjam on something he’s shown no leadership on all session.



That was the morning.  Then in the afternoon Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder sent out a statement on term limits (“I’m here to say  SJR12 ought to die a deserved death this week…”) that amazingly made him appear even less relevant than Nixon…



About Those Maps

The initial redistricting maps – – appear to have been crafted to be as repulsive to as many people as possible.  It’s the first step in the Democrats’ strategy to make sure that no consensus is reached.


When they miss the deadline due to stalemate, the map drawing powers will pass to a new commission made up of appellate court judges, appointed by the Missouri Supreme Court.  Dems assume that new Appellate Commission will be sympathetic to their desires.


The best guess, then, is that Dems are quietly working on a “second map” of both House and Senate lines which will be offered to the Appellate Commission as a fitting template from which they could draw the final lines.



One score that Dems are looking to settle is with Rep. John Diehl who shepherded the congressional redistricting map through the House.  They’ll attempt to draw him out of a district in St. Louis County.



2012 Jockeying Bits

Rep. Todd Akin tells his Caucus that he’ll declare on Tuesday. Read it Here, (compliments of Combest).



Sen. Jane Cunningham declares to the Beacon “I’m in” for the 2nd Congressional, but being honorable she won’t declare until Akin jumps. Read it Here.



The current 2nd Congressional District field – Cunningham, Ann Wagner and Ed Martin – will likely be joined by others.  Perennials Randy Jotte and Jack Jackson are mentioned.  But for those compiling a list of possible candidates, you might as well as add Diehl’s name to the list. That’s based on the potential for a redistricting spin: he could get drawn out of a House district, but not into a Senate district.  If he did get lured into this congressional contest, he’d be to Wagner what Martin is to Cunningham, and the field would be truly intriguing.



Gene McNary was in the building yesterday, confiding in anyone who would ask that his son Rep. Cole McNary is a likely candidate for Cunningham’s Senate seat when she jumps in officially.



How the Chef Got Killed

Last week Senate Appropriations Chair Kurt Schaefer traveled to the House side to finish the final touches on the state’s budget.  Those with knowledge of the situation say that the two chambers were down to a short list of outstanding disagreements.  On that list was the line item for the governor’s chef.  It’s a $45,000 line item.  Like the other items on the list, it was basically irrelevant to the bottom line of the $23 billion budget.  But it’s symbolic and House Budget Chair Ryan Silvey had sought for years to eliminate the position.


Another issue on the list was the Senate’s own budget.  The House had cut its budget (again a largely symbolic move) and was annoyed that the Senate had proposed an increase for themselves.


As negotiations proceeded between the two chambers, Pro Tem Rob Mayer, a former Appropriations Chair himself, entered the room.  He lectured Silvey about the Senate dealing with its own budget, and about not going the “petty” route of cutting the governor’s chef.  When he said he wasn’t “trying to meddle” in negotiations, Silvey interrupted him, told him he was, in fact, meddling and pointedly told the senate leader to leave his office. 


He then turned to Schaefer and declared that the chef line was no longer negotiable.  A decision that had been written in sand became written in concrete due to what Silvey perceived as Mayer’s attempt to bully the House.



Quote of the Day

“I’m a vital part of the St. Louis team, but when it’s time to make critical decisions, nobody came and talked to me” – Sen. Robin Wright-Jones.



Lobbyists Principal Changes

From the Pelopidas website:


David Barklage added Regional Commerce & Growth Association. 

Andy Blunt and Jay Reichard added Maximus.

Ron Leone added Downtown Columbia Community Improvement District.

Alan Robert Mauk added Alan Mauk.

Jewell Patek added Responsive Law.



$5k+ Contributions

7th District Congressional Republican Committee - $25,000 from ATT.


MO Democratic State Committee - $15,374 from Democratic Governors Association Missouri.