Thursday, January 4, 2018

Q&A #1: What’s Next for Education Reform?

Short answer: No easy way forward now.


Jason Hancock reports on the situation: no commissioner, no active application process, no working State Board of Education.  We’re officially luffing in the wind now… Gov. Eric Greitens withdrew all five of his appointees to the Missouri Board of Education Wednesday morning, then quickly reappointed them in a procedural maneuver that buys them more time to be confirmed by the state Senate. But the maneuver also means the eight-member board has only three active members. Nominees appointed during the legislative session — which began at noon Wednesday — aren’t permitted to begin serving until they are confirmed.

Thus, the board doesn’t have a quorum and can’t take any votes or officially meet until at least two other members win Senate approval… Without enough members for a quorum, the board would not be able to move forward in its search for a new commissioner. The vote that opened the application process for the job also closes the application process on Monday…

The freeze on board action means the board also can’t renew any school charters or approve the new Missouri School Improvement Program, which is the state’s blueprint for continuing to improve education in the state.


With vocal opposition from senators about confirming Greitens’ current nominees to the SBOE, it seems there are two paths forward now.  First, wait out the Senate.  It’s just five months until they recess.  Then make appointments – again, and hopefully better vetted and with less drama.  They would have six working months to install a new commissioner and chart a new path for the department.  It’s not ideal because they would be facing the wrath of the Senate next January.

The other path forward is to work with the Senate and realize that each nominee will receive extra scrutiny.  This isn’t ideal because any bold changes – like any education reform legislation this session – is no longer in the realm of the possible.

Neither scenario is appealing for reformers.

This episode is a reminder that while it’s nice to have an ideological friend in power, you need to have competent execution. And specific to this situation, leadership and coalition building requires a vision beyond “do different.”

The governor has yet to articulate a philosophy when it comes to education policy.  His statement on the first shake-up of the State Board of Education was a series of soundbites about paying teachers more and administrators less.

Regardless of the path ahead, the nest first step for the governor’s office would be outlining a coherent and substantive education plan.  It should explain what changes are necessary and why, and how those changes fit into the Republican Party’s core values and governing philosophy.


Wallingford Gets Ways and Means Chair

Sen. Wayne Wallingford is the new chair of Ways and Means.  That chairmanship was held by Sen. Will Kraus – who is being appointed to the Tax Commission.  Sen. Denny Hoskins takes over as the new chair of Veteran Affairs.


Rumorville: Meredith Not Running in for Re-Election

Word is circulating the Rep. Sue Meredith has decided not to run for a fourth term. Meredith has been a consistent liberal voice representing House 71 (St. Louis County).  Her constituents include the governor’s parents.

The early favorite to replace her is La Donna Appelbaum.  Look for Meredith’s husband, Mike, to serve as Appelbaum’s treasurer.


Richard Cautious on Taxes

At his post-adjournment press conference Senate Pro Tem Ron Richard sounded a note of caution about tax reform and tax cut bills.

“I like low taxes too but I’m going to be very careful to make sure we’re not endangering this institution, this building, the taxpayers after I’m gone beyond repair.  I don’t want a Brownback thing.”


MCN Still Off Committees

At her post-adjournment press conference Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh said that she’s not putting Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal back on committees.  Chappelle-Nadal was removed after her Facebook post hoping for President Donald Trump assassination.  “Why would I put her back on… I have the support of my caucus…”


Schaaf Issues Warning

On the floor yesterday Sen. Rob Schaaf, after citing a few bills he disagreed with from last year, declared, “It won’t be so easy to get this stuff past me” this year.


Talk: Pro Tem Race

Talking to various people about Republican Pro Tem race (in November) I’m surprised at how wildly varied the opinions are.  One lobbyist told me it was Sen. Bob Onder’s to lose, while another insider said that Sen. Dave Schatz has it “locked up.”

In fact, it’s just too early.  The Senate has a mercurial nature and unlike the straight-away races in the House, there’s often a twist or turn in Senate races.


Talk: Other Appts?

One rumor making the rounds yesterday was that Sen. Ryan Silvey wasn’t the only senator offered an appointment by the governor’s office.  A few folks said that Sen. Gary Romine was offered a spot on the Tax Commission.  It would fit the same pattern as Silvey: take a critic and offer them an incentive to move on.  But one building denizen says it’s not true.  Although there may have been some “reaching out” and “feeling out” of other senators nothing got to the stage that Silvey did where an actual offer was made.


MMJ in the Lege?

Eapen Thampy tweets of growing support for Rep. Jim Neely’s bill: “On first day of Missouri Legislative session 2018 @MoRepEvans cosponsors Rep. Jim Neely's HB 1554 for medical marijuana joining  Reps. @NickBSchroer and @gcmitts Tell your representative to cosponsor too.”  Supporters hope the legislature this session and avoid possible legal challenges that might arise from the competing initiative petitions.


Senate Floor Leader Mike Kehoe said in his post-adjournment press conference… “Whenever there’s a ballot initiative what I’ve seen this building do is pretty much kind of take a wait-and-see attitude.  ‘There’s something on the ballot why should we do this, let’s see where that goes…’”


Hoover to Hang Out a Shingle

Cara Hoover will be leaving KCP&L government affairs in-house team after 9 years with the company. She will be opening her own contract lobbying firm, Heartland Policy Advisors, where she will still represent KCP&L, among others, in Jefferson City


Scruggs Retires

Mary Scruggs, who worked legislative affairs for the Association of Missouri Electrical Cooperatives, has retired.  Scruggs also authored the very popular and indispensable calendar of fundraising events.  No word yet on the future of that newsletter.


Zahnd Passed Over

KC Star reports that “An interim U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri was announced Wednesday. Timothy Garrison has served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the district’s Springfield office since 2007… Garrison is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. He has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Before becoming a federal prosecutor, Garrison was a prosecutor in the Marine Corps.”

Eric Zahnd had previously thought to be the front-runner until he got himself into hot water.  See it here.


One MOScouter observes… “shows the growing political influence of Springfield Republicans and the decline of KC Republicans.”


Lives Under Construction under Scrutiny

Springfield News-Leader reports on a farm for troubled boys with accusations of sexual abuse.  Sen. David Sater makes a cameo… “Sater interceded on behalf of the ranch in 2009, but only after the state investigation was completed. The Department of Social Services was still refusing to let the ranch accept new residents, [founder Ken] Ortman said, and Sater helped convince them otherwise…”  See it here.


Love Hearing

The House will have its ethics hearing into Rep. Warren Love’s social media posting about lynching today at 1PM.


Mark Your Calendar

State of the State is slated for next Wednesday, January 10…


eMailbag: Down on PPRC

Is the UMSL PPRC Director posting satire? "Transformative applied public policy research"? "Unbiased analysis and evaluation of public policy?"  They are currently led by the collector of revenue for one small St. Louis county municipality and serve as the research arm for many of the others. I cannot think of one transformative project that they have led in decades.  If they hire anyone, I hope it is someone who is serious about the challenges that St. Louis faces…


Committee Changes

PUSH Forward, a PAC established a few months ago to support Rep. Josh Peters, was terminated on December 29.


Gubby Appts

Sam Devinki was appointed to the Holocaust Education and Awareness Commission.

Stephen Korte, Sonny Saxton, and Lisa Schlottach were appointed to the Missouri 911 Service Board.

Jade Jump was appointed to the Missouri Commission on Human Rights.

Darryl Winegar was appointed to the Missouri Health Facilities Review Committee.

Bill Gipson and Benjamin Rosenberg were appointed to the Missouri Southern State University Board of Governors.

Edward Davis, Stephen Foster, and Kurt Killen were appointed to the Platte County Election Board.

Nikki Whitehead was appointed to the State Fair Commission.


Lobbyists Registrations

Brian Bernskoetter added Missouri Academy of Family Physicians.

Jean Paul Bradshaw added Missouri Academy Of Family Physicians, Helena Chemicals, Southern Galzer’s Wine and Spirits LLC, and Association Of Missouri Electrical Cooperatives.

Gary Burton, Mark Bruns, Tony Dugger, Neal English, Jim Foley, Andrew Foley, and Chris Liese added Missouri Pet Breeders Association.

Gary Burton, and Tony Dugger added American Suntanning Association

Harry Gallagher and Heath Clarkston added Helena Chemnicals, Lathrop Gage Consulting LLC, Association Of Missouri Electrical Cooperatives; and deleted Gallagher Consultants Inc, and Multistate Associates, Inc. on Behalf of Sanofi Pasteur.

Heath Clarkston and Doug Nelson added The J Harris Company On Behalf Of Automated Health Systems.

Harry Gallagher deleted National Popular Vote.

Jack Cardetti added Real Equity Management

Richard Crews added Lathrop Gage Consulting LLC, and Missouri Fireworks Association; and deleted Gallagher Consultants Inc.

Samantha Green added State Auditor's Office.

Jennifer Griffin added Lathrop Gage LLP.

Brent Hemphill and Sarah Juergensmeyer added Pearson Education Inc.

Sonette Magnus added Macquarie Infrastructure & Real Assets Inc, and Verizon Communications.

Norbert Plassmeyer added Lathrop Gage Consulting LLC; and deleted Gallagher Consultants Inc.

Mark Rhoads added Check Into Cash; and deleted Hudson Government Affairs, LLC o/b/o Comfort Dental.

Doug Nelson and Kurt Schaefer added Southern Glazer's Wine And Spirits LLC, Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated, Helena Chemicals, 3M Company, Kum & Go, Missouri Broadcasters Association, Missouri Fireworks Association, Missouri Society Of Accountants, Missouri Press Association, Missouri Association Of Cosmetology Schools, Consumer Data Industry Association, FCS Financial, Affordable Equity Partners Inc., Association Of Missouri Electrical Cooperatives, Capital Health Management, Missouri Veterinary Medical Association, and Mortgage Bankers Association Of Missouri.

Doug Nelson added RAI Services Company.

Jason Zamkus added Torch Electronics LLC.

Joseph Carrabes deleted Jennison Associates LLC.

John Cozad deleted Central Cass County ire Protection District.

Alinda Dennis deleted Heart of America United Way.

Mary Timothy Phillips and Brian Treece deleted Alternative Opportunities Inc.

Lewis R Mills deleted Bryan Cave LLP, and Missouri Industrial Energy Consumers (MIEC).

Jacqueline Bardgett deleted St. Louis Police Retirement System.



Happy birthdays to Sen. Rob Schaaf, Jeff Windett, and Adam McBride.