Thursday, April 5, 2018

Tax Reform Moving

The legislature continues to make progress in its pursuit of tax reform.  Generally speaking the broad ideas here are to close some loop-holes and lower rates, while creating some revenue streams to invest in transportation infrastructure.

The House perfected their version yesterday after debate and nearly a dozens amendments.  It’s Rep. Elijah Haahr’s HB 2540.  See it here.

On the Senate side, Sen. Bill Eigel’s bill is in Fiscal Review after being perfected by that body last week.

Eigel is scheduled to meet with Governor Eric Greitens today to discuss the bill.  Word is that the governor’s office has threatened a veto if the package includes an increase to the gas tax – which Eigel’s does.  Eigel will likely explain the simple math of the Senate: without money for transportation, a tax reform package doesn’t have the votes to pass.

And – the Senate prefers a fuel tax to increased fees because then out-of-state truckers share the burden of maintaining the roads.

We’ll see….


Again With Greitens’ Attorney Drama

Nothing is simple these days…. The latest is that KCStar’s Jason Hancock reports that the Greitens legal team’s most recent addition “DC-based attorney Ross Garber… is being paid directly out of the Governor’s Office budget…”

First, there’s the optics of having taxpayers pay for an attorney whose task is to argue that the governor shouldn’t testify before a House Committee.

Second, this is certain to cause heartburn among the budgeteers.  As one MOScouter writes:  Has the Governor created a new problem by using his official state budget to hire a D.C. attorney? Where in his budget has the legislature given the Governor the authority to hire this attorney? If Garber's bill exceeds the budget, will Greitens ask for a supplemental?

But really the biggest issue here is the red flag waved to me by a long-time veteran of the building… this tax-payer funded attorney can’t do any work on Greitens’ personal criminal case or you’d have public funds being used for private benefit, a real big no-no.  This veteran – an attorney – thinks at the least that’s an exceedingly difficult task given how intertwined the governor’s circumstances are.  How do you segregate out the arguments on testifying before the House Committee from the situation of the indictment in St. Louis?  Can you really separate the two?


In wondering why Team Greitens is paying for this new attorney from the governor’s office budget pot, some are speculating that the legal defense funds set up to defray costs have been less than successful in their pitches to donors.  We’ll see if this theory bears out when those reports appear later this month.


Other Greitens Lawyers Attack Investigator

Post-Dispatch reports that “lawyers for Gov. Eric Greitens claim in a court filing Wednesday that an investigator working for prosecutors lied during a deposition and may be withholding evidence helpful to the defense… Wednesday's filing is the most recent of a series attacking the criminal case against Greitens, and those involved in the investigation and prosecution. Defense attorneys questioned William Don Tisaby, a former FBI agent hired by the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office to help in the investigation, in a deposition on March 19. In Wednesday's filing, they say he gave conflicting answers to a series of questions about the case. One of his statements was contradicted by lawyers for a witness, Greitens' attorneys say.  A spokeswoman for Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner did not immediately respond to a request for comment….”



The Special Investigative Committee has meetings noticed up for today (Room B-22 upon adjournment), and tomorrow (House Hearing Room 5, at 8AM).


Bearden Hearts Utility Legislation

Carl Bearden, former House Budget chair and lobbyist for United for Missouri, writes an op/ed extolling the energy legislation moving through the legislature.  See it here.

Pull Quote: After cutting electric rates for Missourians by 4-5%, the legislation would for the first time in Missouri cap the amount utilities could raise rates on Missourians over the next 5-10 years. According to the Associated Press, Missouri electric rates have risen by an average of 5.2% annually over the past decade. These unpredictable rate spikes are simply unsustainable for Missourians.

Senate Bill 564 and House Bill 2265 caps rate increases at an average annual rate of just 2.85% for Ameren and 3% for KCP&L… Both will force Missouri utilities to return more than $100 million to families and businesses. Legislators will hopefully see and understand the wisdom in making sure $100 million goes back into the pockets of Missourians and not sitting in the bank accounts of monopoly utilities.  State lawmakers have one chance this year to maximize the newly-passed federal tax cuts on behalf of their constituents….


Empower Missouri Ups Lobbyists

Empower Missouri added a few lobbyists recently. Jeremy LaFaver, Sammy Panettiere and Jeff Brooks have all added registrations for the organization.  Empower’s executive director, Jeanette Mott Oxford, is out of the building as she completes physical therapy following hip surgery.

Meanwhile the organization is playing defense against some bills moving in the legislature.  HB 1443 and HB 1486 have them most concerned.

Their fear is that “most people don’t know the facts about SNAP or TANF – or poverty. Those who have comfortable lives don’t have to learn about such things. That creates a grave danger – when those who are not poor make policy for those who are literally struggling to survive.”


Lincoln County GOP Denies Filing Fee

In the trend of county committees vetting candidates… the Lincoln County Republican Central Committee members voted to reject Democrat Leah Wommack Chaney’s filing fee – in an effort to keep the democrat off the Republican ballot for Prosecuting Attorney this August. In a letter written to Lincoln County Clerk Crystal Hall, the Republican Central Committee gave notice on March 28th, that the committee has voted to refuse the filing fee of Mrs. Chaney. Bedford Township Republican Committeewoman Alexandra Salsman said this of the decision: “We welcome a genuine change of heart from anyone. But Mrs. Chaney established her re-election committee as a Democrat, and has been raising money for the past six months as a Democrat, and only switched parties the last day possible, in order to appear on the Republican ballot.”

See it here.


Porter Promoted

Press release: The Association of Global Automakers (Global Automakers) is pleased to announce the promotion of Damon Shelby Porter, currently Director, State Government Affairs to Vice President, Government Affairs.  In his new role, Porter will oversee the Association’s federal and state government activities, to better align advocacy initiatives on behalf of our members….  Porter was a senior adviser to Missouri Governor Jeremiah Nixon on technology and innovation issues, leading the administration’s public-private initiative on broadband accessibility. He also served as director of public affairs for a Fortune 100 telecommunications company, chief of staff and legislative director for two speakers of the Missouri House of Representatives and was chairman of the transition team for State Treasurer Zweifel….  See it here.


eMailbag on the Quade rumor

First of all, if Crystal Quade was serious [about running in Senate 30] why wouldn't she have filed during the month-long process?

Second, if it is true she has been promised substantial support, that would just put her at even with Lincoln Hough (if it ever materialized). That's before Hough gets started. It's also before the mega-donors, senate leadership, and even groups she would expect support from, jump in and dump truckloads of money against her.

Third, it's not fun to come home from session to be bombarded with ads before you even get a chance to announce knowing your short career is in deep jeopardy.


eMailbag on Greitens’ Concern of Tainting Jury

Interesting to hear Team Greitens talk about the report "tainting the jury pool" when they didn't give a second thought to running $60,000 in tv/radio ads…


New Committees

Paul Berry formed a candidate committee (Paul Berry III For St Louis County) to run for St. Louis County Executive as a Republican.

Greg Upchurch formed a candidate committee (Upchruch4mo) to run for House 70 as a Democrat.

Lisa Clancy formed a candidate committee (Team Clancy) to run for St. Louis County Council, District 5, as a Democrat.


Lobbyists Registrations

Daniel Pfeifer, Gregory Porter, Rebecca Lohmann, and Alex Eaton added Warby Parker, and Simple Contacts.

Maureen Mahoney added Consumer Reports Inc.

Casey Pick added American Unity Fund.

Pamela Walker added Animal Legal Defense Fund.


$5K+ Contributions

American Democracy Alliance – Ridgely PAC - $100,000 from Herzog Contracting.

Committee for a Healthy Community - $10,474 from American Heart Association.



Happy birthday to Bill Phelps.