Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Session Starts

Today it’s mainly speechifying.  Nugget to remember: this is Sen. Rob Schaaf’s final session.  And he hasn’t pre-filed a single bill.  That says he’ll have nothing to lose by trying to kill anything he doesn’t like.  Welcome to session folks…..

 

Silvey for PSC

Governor Eric Greitens announced that he was appointing Sen. Ryan Silvey to the Public Service Commission.  It’s an intriguing move that relieves the governor and Pro Tem Ron Richard of a consistent Republican critic in the Senate.  Silvey, chair of the Commerce Committee where utility bills are normally assigned, is qualified for the appointment.

Silvey is taking the spot held by former Sen. Stephen Stoll, a Democrat, whose term expired Sunday, December 31.  With Silvey the PSC will tilt to a 3-2 Republican majority.  And it may signal the end of Daniel Hall’s tenure as chair. We’ll see if the governor designates a new chair in the coming weeks.

The appointment will put Silvey’s Senate seat in play.  Although others may test the waters, the expectation is that Rep. Kevin Corlew will be the Republican nominee.  The Dem side may have a bit of jostling and elbowing as there are three qualified state representatives: Reps. Lauren Arthur, Jon Carpenter and Mark Ellebracht.

It’s a lean Democratic district.  However Corlew is a Republican with crossover appeal in the same vein as Silvey, so depending who lands on both sides of the ticket, it’s likely to be a hard-fought race.

And

Former Sen. John Lamping not a fan of the appointment.  See his tweet here.

 

What Next?

The other impact of Silvey’s appointment will be start a committee shuffle in the Senate.  The guess would be that Sen. Ed Emery takes the reins of the Commerce Committee.  And that would open up the Government Reform Committee chairmanship for a freshman like Sen. Bill Eigel.  But maybe the bigger prize will be Silvey’s Appropriations’ vice-chairmanship.  If I had to guess I would think Sen. Mike Cunningham will become vice-chair, putting him in-line for a two-year chairmanship of the power Appropriations committee starting next January.

 

Mantovani to Self: Happy New Year

Businessman Mark Mantovani who’s waging an insurgent campaign against incumbent Steve Stenger for St. Louis County Executive put $250,000 into his campaign account on New Year’s Eve – the final day of the fundraising quarter.  This bring his total self-funding investment in the campaign to $750,000.

 

Q&A #1: What Will Dominate Our 2018 Landscape?

Short answer: Mostly elections.

 

The biggest of the battles is the Missouri U.S. Senate race.  And all the smaller battles will roll in its wake.  One example is right to work.  There will be a push this session to move the RTW question to the August ballot.  The Republican thinking on this is that moving it would prevent a huge union turn-out for the issue in November.  But also that unions would spend down their money on that battle, leaving less to help Senator Claire McCaskill in November.

There is an interesting nugget I’ve heard is that unions would prefer the August date because lower turnout projections will boast their chances on the RTW question.

Sub-plot to watch: Subtle posturing all year long…. If Josh Hawley wins, who replaces him as AG?

 

Can governor repair his relationship with the Senate?  The appointments he’s made to the State Board of Education will be the first skirmish.  And how that pans out will impact education policy, but also the tax credit policy if his MHDC appointees are also nixed.  The larger story is whether Greitens continues to use the legislature as a rhetorical punching bag or finally starts to see them as members of his party trying to accomplish the same policy agenda.  That is: partners.  Dems hope not!

Sub-plot to watch: Jockeying all year long ahead of the Senate’s leadership races immediately after the mid-terms. Sen. Bob Onder was heir-apparent to become next pro tem, but is being challenged by Sens. Dave Schatz and Gary Romine.

 

Republicans face a fork in the road.  Their base has gobbled up the no new taxes rhetoric for years, and their business constituents are anxious for increased infrastructure funding.  Do they go with Sen. Bill Eigel’s tax reform plan which would slice revenues away from the state budget to dedicate to roads or with Rep. Kevin Corlew’s interim committee recommendation for a higher gas tax?  One MOscouter says:  They are more likely to follow the Yogi Berraism “when you come to the fork on the road, pick it up.” I think it is hard for either one to pass.

 

Finally, I still hear from folks who are bracing for MeToo eruptions this year in Missouri.  They watch the endless stream of men whose careers have been ended across industries across the nation and can’t fathom that we won’t see our share in Jefferson City.

 

December Revenues

According to the daily reports, state tax receipts were flat in December.  Sales and Use tax receipts inched higher by 1.48%, but individual income tax fell 4.33%.  Fiscal year to date, the state revenues have shown 4.13% growth.

And

See Professor Joseph Haslag’s analysis of the federal tax cuts on Missouri state revenues here.  He expects a $58 million hole from the changes – far less than previously feared by many budget watchers.

 

So Far An Easy Choice for SBOE…

Kansas City reports that “two weeks after the Missouri Board of Education opened the application process in its search for a new state commissioner of education, only one person has applied for the job. Of course, applicants have until Jan. 8 — five more business days — to toss their name in for the position... The board is scheduled to meet the following day to narrow the field of applicants. But if the current show of interest continues, that may prove to be not too challenging a chore... Shields could not identify the one applicant for the commissioner’s job. An email from The Star to the Greitens’ office asking whether his office was aware of the identity of the applicant got no response…”

And

Next week, Monday, January 8, the State Board of Education will hold a public hearing relating to the hiring of a new commissioner of education.  The hearing will be in the Jefferson Building in Jefferson City from 2PM-5PM.  Public comments will be limited to 3 minutes per person.

 

Confide

St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports on a lawsuit filed to forbid the governor and his staff from using the app Confide which automatically deleted their texts.  See it here.

Pull Quote: “The use of automatic communication destroying software by elected officials and government employees is illegal and constitutes an ongoing conspiracy to violate the Missouri Sunshine law and Missouri State and Local Records law, not to mention a significant affront to the open government and democratic traditions of Missouri and the United States,” the lawsuit claims. The governor’s use of the app also has sparked a probe by Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, who announced on Dec. 20 that his office would investigate his fellow Republican at the request of Sen. Scott Sifton, D-Affton. The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Sansone’s lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of the Missouri Sunshine Project, an organization that champions open government… House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, meanwhile, told the Post-Dispatch Tuesday that the Legislature may consider modernizing the state's Sunshine Law, which was authored decades ago, before the use of text messages… "Obviously I think everybody wants to see an open and transparent government," Richardson said. "I don't have any comments beyond that."

 

Greene County Contra Auditor - Again

Another day, another story…  Now the sheriff sues the auditor… Read it here.

Pull Quote: Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott is suing the Missouri state auditor for documents related to allegations that the county misused public resources to advocate for a 1/2-cent sales tax.  Arnott is taking issue with Auditor Nicole Galloway's unwillingness to hand over some records, including written complaints. Galloway has cited a legal obligation to keep whistleblower identities confidential… The lawsuit is the most recent development in a saga that continues to play out weeks after whistleblower allegations surfaced in early December. County officials have so far postponed responding to Galloway's repeated requests for permission to investigate what she has described as "serious" and "credible" allegations. Meanwhile, a group of county residents have started a petition in hopes of launching an audit.

 

Help Wanted

Public Policy Research Center (PPRC) at UM-St. Louis seeks Director.  “The University of Missouri-St. Louis seeks a dynamic, regionally engaged Director to build the Public Policy Research Center (PPRC) (https://pprc.umsl.edu/) into a key source of transformative applied public policy research for the St. Louis region and the state of Missouri. For 25 years, PPRC has been a widely respected source of methodologically rigorous and unbiased analysis and evaluation of public policies and programs. PPRC is now poised to expand its portfolio and increase its impact by becoming an agent of evidence-based policy change as the St. Louis region confronts a range of 21st Century governance challenges. We seek a leader who has the connections, capability, and drive to lead PPRC to the next level…”

 

Lobbyists Registrations

Sarah Gentry added Paraquad.

James Harris added Automated Heath Systems.

Brad Ketcher deleted Jumbo Interactive LTD, and Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A. Inc.

William Steinmeier deleted TW Telecom Of Kansas City LLC, Level 3 Communications, and Amerialert LLC.

Darrell Moore, Evan Rosell and Ryan Bangert deleted Missouri Attorney General’s Office.

Joseph Thompson deleted Unite Here, Southwestern Bell Telephone Company DBA AT&T Missouri and its affiliates, and Spire Missouri Inc.

Michael Gibbons and Tricia Workman deleted Judevine Center for Autism.

Becky Herchbach deleted Productive Living Board.

Steven Brubaker deleted The Small Businesses of Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

David Klindt deleted Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

Garnett Stokes deleted University of Missouri.

Paul Sparks deleted Aegerion Pharmaceuticals.

 

$5K+ Contributions

MOTruck PAC - $6,005 from Springfield Area Motor Carrier Club.

Professional Fire Fighters of Eastern Missouri 2665 PAC Fund - $12,111 from Professional Firefighters of Eastern Missouri.

Mantovani for STL - $250,000 from Mark Mantovani.

 

Birthdays

Happy birthday to former Sen. Dan Clemens.