Who Won the Session
It was a remarkable legislative session.
Almost from the start the governor was engulfed in a scandal.
The TV interview – with the husband of the hairdresser – ran the night of the State of the State speech in January.
Since that night a cascade of other scandals have emerged and re-emerged… Confide, computer tampering, filing false statements to MEC, signing SOS signature to a document, misappropriation of a grant, shell LLCs to conceal donor identities, and I’m probably missing a few.
Initially the governor did a day of media sit-downs as his team attempted damage control. But the allegations piled up, and the governor has spent the last four months largely exiled to the virtual world of social media. His bully pulpit has been reduced to press releases, pictures on Twitter and Facebook, and speeches with a getaway car, engine running.
Meanwhile, the legislature adopted a workaholic attitude, and remained undisrupted by internal dramas or strife.
It was as if Jefferson City has a natural level of drama at which it finds equilibrium. And the governor’s office fulfilled the drama quota for the entire building.
In the Senate, Ryan Silvey’s exit to the Public Service Commission was fatal to the previous session’s renegade coalition. At the same time, the leadership team of Ron Richard and Mike Kehoe seemed to find their mojo. They worked extremely well with Minority Leader Gina Walsh, a trust built over years of service together. And I think it helped that there’s a free-for-all contest to succeed Richard as pro tem. There were more folks wanting to play statemen this year.
Usually the Senate can muscle through a Republican priority near the end of session with the PQ hammer providing the final push. This session the Senate worked with finesse. It untangled issues which previously were knotted. Most of these issues defy partisan boundaries which can make them harder to solve. Instead of a simple tug-of-war, they are multidimensional problems that befuddled previous legislatures.
Finally, after years and years, the public utilities saw their regulatory framework changes move out of the Senate; 911 communications bill was passed; the “small cell” legislation may usher in 5G networks; the Senate passed lobbyist gift bans; and term limit extensions, and a transportation tax. All of these have been batted around before. Some for many years. And this year they found compromises. Amazing.
That’s not to say that the majority didn’t get any of its priorities done. It did. It passed a cut to the corporate tax rate, a few pieces of tort reform, some labor legislation like paycheck and prevailing wage; and changes to the state civil service. And it moved the date of the right to work referendum. All without resorting to a chamber-breaking PQ.
On the House side, Speaker Todd Richardson has commanded the most respect of any speaker in recent history. And he did it without the usual tribalism. He didn’t pit this group against that, or wage war against the Senate to rally his caucus. The opposite in fact. Richardson played nice with the Senate, made them partners in the legislature process.
So who won? So many folks got their bills passed, it’s a long long list. Here’s a few of my thoughts and a few notes that readers sent…
“Todd Richardson, obviously. There aren’t many folks I truly believe in anymore. Todd is among them. Gives me hope that there are others out there like him (Looking at you, Cody Smith)…”
“The Missouri Senate: No meltdowns. Zero people predicted that. Very impressive. “
“Scott Penman for the best lobbying on a single bill. he was the guy that worked his tail off to finally get the e911 across the finish line. Having to deal with all the egos in the senate that were jacking with the bill and he still was able to get the bill to a vote with a great margin was very very impressive…”
“Greg Razer established himself as a go-to person in the House minority caucus. A progressive who gets it and is willing to work with the majority party to move the needle on things that are important to folks in all corners of the state. Finishing only his first term, he’s gonna be somebody to watch.”
“Elijah Haahr: Brokered the deals to pass tax reform, but did it in a way that doesn’t screw his powerful budget chairman. He’s got tremendous shoes to fill, but he demonstrated good leadership this session.”
“Jason Holsman - Even though Vescovo CLEARLY screwed him (on term limit extensions), Holsman demonstrated that he can single-handedly work an issue to passage. Holsman reached out to nearly all 197 lawmakers to talk them through the issue… With retirement looming in 2 years he’s set a good stage to start transitioning to a Hall-walker if that’s his choice…”
“Rob Vescovo - A lot of people were concerned about his brash style at the outset of the year, but nearly every one of his caucus members TAFP’d a priority bill and they love him for it.”
“Jamilah Nasheed – Will be touting the $14 million she placed in the budget as she transitions to her race for President of the Board of Aldermen.”
“Gail McCann Beatty – It’s easy to miss her contribution to the session because she played it so deftly. But if the Dems had pushed too hard on the governor too early, there’d have been a partisan backlash and rallying around him. If she’d have been blasé when Bob Burns’ talk-show scandal erupted, she’d have lost the moral high ground. No bad play-calls from the minority leader.”
“Bill Eigel and Andrew Koenig - No one believed in March that these guys were passing their tax bills. They persisted and proved us all wrong. “
“Jean Evans - TAFP’d 6 bills, including marriage age, Amateur Sports tax credit, and CBD oil. I’m not sure that any House freshman achieved more.”
“Caleb Rowden passed a number of high-profile bills — interpleader (tort reform), small cells, Justice Reinvestment, first-time homebuyers credit and many others — and did it all while seemingly solidifying his place as the frontrunner to be the next Majority Leader. Most assume he will have the support of outgoing Majority Leader Mike Kehoe, which could help put the race out of reach before it really begins.”
“Mike Kehoe – After years without a big win, he finds end zone on two of his personal priorities: utility regulation, and a transportation funding plan. Plus he kept the Senate busy enough to avoid a distracting SJR39-type situation.”
“Jill Schupp – She’s the workhorse of the Senate minority caucus should be able to coast to re-election this fall and with any luck have a slightly bigger caucus next January to help her on the floor.”
Just a few Greitens bits during this brief intermission in impeachment coverage…
Tony Messenger says John Brunner wasn’t the $100K donor. See it here. I concur. I happened to have coffee with Brunner. We talked mainly about his time in business and a bit about fringe free market economists like Hans Sennholtz, but he wasn’t looking in the rearview mirror. He seemed almost happy-go-lucky, not like someone thinking about getting revenge.
See the proposed House rules for special session here. It yields to some of the governor’s lawyers wishes though clearly not all.
May 21 – Drinking Liberally Happy Hour with Rep. Bruce Franks – Nadines, St. Louis – 6:30PM.
May 21 – Sam Gladney (Dem, House 87) fundraiser – CJ Muggs, Clayton – 5:30PM.
Chris Molendorp terminated his lobbyist registration. His clients were: Pleasant Hill Fire Protection District, Missouri Health Connection, Missouri Hospital Association, Chris Molendorp Management Inc, and W. E. Shoehigh, LLC On Behalf Of Expedia, Inc.
Robert Shelor and Andrew Barbee deleted Council of the State Governments.
Missourians For Freedom To Work - $100,000 from Greg Hoberock.
Missouri Senate Campaign Committee - $25,000 from Onder for Missouri.
Mantovani For STL - $5,001 from Donald McNutt.
Happy birthdays to MO McCullough, and Jessica Pabst.