Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lembke Gang Filibusters HB 18

Sens. Jim Lembke, Rob Schaaf, Brian Nieves and Will Kraus filibustered HB18 through the night with a compromise coming just before 6am this morning.


The bill contained capital spending appropriations funded by federal stimulus money and had been targeted by the renegade senators since they yielded on extending unemployment benefits a month ago.


Throughout the evening sentiment on the filibuster varied.  Some felt sympathy for the senators who were told by Pro Tem Rob Mayer that they had a deal to cut $250 million when they sat down on the unemployment benefits.  Others argued that Mayer had only promised to try to cut $250 million and this was of their own doing.


Ultimately the 6am compromise was to cut about $14 million.  It was stimulus money to be used for weatherization programs.


The Senate cancelled its morning session, and will reconvene at 3pm.  Also some Senate committees (and the budget conference committee) will be pushed into the afternoon to give people a chance to rest.  However the Committee on Gubernatorial Appointments (see Local Control Logjam below) will still meet at 8:30am.



With every filibuster the process of wasting away hours on the floor always produces a trove of personal information.  For me the shocking piece was that uber-conservative Lembke hasn’t read Atlas Shrugged (though he has seen the movie).



Local Control Logjam Broken

Yesterday Governor Jay Nixon nominated Tom Irwin, secretary to Civic Progress, to join the Police Board.  It signals the latest twist in the local control saga, and probably a happy ending for the city’s campaign.


Here’s the way it’ll go down.  Today the Senate will confirm Irwin’s appointment, followed by a special St. Louis Police Board meeting perhaps as early as tomorrow.  With Irwin on the board, the mayor will have a three-member majority, and will use those votes to institute collective bargaining status to the SLPOA. 


That’ll allow the local control bill in the Senate to be “cleaned” of state-legislated collective bargaining and therefore remove Sen. Jason Crowell’s objection.


Pretty much everyone wins. The city and the coppers obviously are getting their pieces of the puzzle. The governor’s office gets to “move the nimbus” as Peter Kinder might say. 


Rex Sinquefield’s Pelopidas Inc. lands several victories all at once.  They return a third of the city’s budget to mayoral control which helps clear the way for another item on their St. Louis agenda, namely eliminating the earning tax.  Plus they can back off the $10 million endeavor of doing a ballot initiative on the issue.


And it’s a win for the St. Louis region and those who imagine the city normalizing relations and re-entering St. Louis County someday…



Redistricting Override Vote

Word was circulating that the House would go to overriding the congressional map this morning, an indication that Speaker Steve Tilley has succeeded in locating his fourth Democratic vote.  However Rep. Bill Reiboldt suffered chest pains and entered the Jeff City hospital, apparently scuttling the plan, and fueling more uncertainty and rumors.  


Dems are trying to anticipate and protect against Tilley’s work to find his final Democratic defector.  They have a pretty weak hand as both Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and Lacy Clay appear to be working against them.  As a result, here’s the chief suspects list from one Dem:


First, Rep. Jonas Hughes is thought to be getting pressured from Cleaver.  He gave a less than steadfast answer to Prime Buzz yesterday.  Read it Here.


And second, Rep. Rochelle Walton Gray who would be hearing from Clay.



Return of CWIP-lite?

On Monday, Sens. Mike Kehoe and Kurt Schaefer started the session with a point of personal privilege and proceeded to hammer on the disparity in utility rates.  It was thinly veiled reference to the fact that aluminum giant Noranda and other big companies pay far less than residential customers.


Noranda has been the chief opponent of the CWIP-lite legislation.


The Senate jawboning is a sign that the two sides are under some pressure from various points to try to get a deal done in these final two weeks.


With Ameren’s rate case before the Public Service Commission right now, some CWIP-lite supporters are seeking a point of leverage by highlighting the rate design – this is, the disparity between residential and industrial rates. 


If Noranda were to get an unfavorable rate design, they could lose much more than on Ameren’s current PSC case than any CWIP-lite legislation.




The House is said to be readying their own economic development package to put on a Senate bill rather than conference on HB 116.  This new House version will contain the Aerotropolis credits and sporting event credits, but also the data center incentives.  And it would exclude the Compete Missouri provisions and sunsets on tax credits.



Dead List (Famous Last Words)

They can always come back, but word was circulating that something have slipped into the abyss…


Rep. Scott Dieckhaus this morning will vote out the last Senate vehicle for a Turner fix of his Education Committee and it won’t have a Turner fix in it.  The reformists are acting pleased saying that the status quo is fine with them.


And Rep. Jason Holsman’s HB 613 – renewable enegy – is probably dead as well.



Leara’s Rise Fundy

Tonight (6-7pm) at the MCTA office, Rep. Mike Leara will have a fundraiser “in support of re-election and rise to leadership.”  One rumor is that he would announce a bid for speaker pro tem at the event.



Another Take on Dem-Nixon Split

Here’s a reader’s response to the national stories about Governor Jay Nixon’s “early veto” controversy I wrote about yesterday:


“It would be really nice to know who these top Dems are who are bagging Nixon on the timing of his veto session. Probably the same guys sitting in at least 60/40 D districts who have presided over the demise of the Ds in the House & the Senate.  I don’t know if Nixon’s strategy on redistricting will work, but sure as hell know these reputed Ds don’t know a thing about winning an issue/election in a purple state like Missouri. Someone needs to tell them their war is with Steve Tilley, not Nixon."



Lobbyist Principal Changes

From the Pelopidas website:


Mark Levison added Airport Taxi Council LLC.



$5k+ Contributions

Missourians for Responsible Government PAC - $30,000 from Missouri Energy Development Association.




Happy birthday to Rep. Jason Kander who hits the big 3-0 today.