MOScout Daily Update: STL Merger Plan - Senate Hears Tort Reform - Fitz on Revenue Shortfall and more...

St. Louis Consolidation

Better Together unveiled their plan to merge St. Louis City with St. Louis County.  It would create the tenth largest city in the country.  See the detailed plan here.

All the good stuff is in the appendix…

Page 118 – explains how revenue would be split and how current debts would be managed.

Page 124 – detailed overview of the plan.

Page 133 – the specific constitutional language (31 pages long).

Page 156 – timeline for implementation.

Reaction

The civvies love it.  This is the good government reform they’ve dreamed of.  The Frankenstein County with its tiny islands of police departments writing tickets to underwrite their inefficient local government would finally evaporate.

There is a cry against the plan, saying that a state-wide vote should not determine the issue.  But for the most part legislative leaders are happy to sit on their hands and let the St. Louis business community drive the bus.

 

Driving the Day

Senate Committee get busy…

·         8AM tort reform issues will be heard in Sen. Ed Emery’s Governor Reform Committee.

·         8AM Sen. Andrew Koenig’s educational saving account proposal will be heard in his Ways and Means Committee.

·         After Morning Session, Sen. Dan Hegeman’s bill lowering the cap on LIHTC will get a hearing.

What It Means

Pro tem Dave Schatz is using his power to refer bills to committee shrewdly.  We’ll see how much tort reform ends up in ultra-conservative Ed Emery’s committee instead of the freshmen attorney Tony Luetkemeyer’s Judiciary Committee.

And Koenig’s ESA is a tax credit so makes some sense in his Ways and Means, and it’s clearly a more hospitable committee than sending it to Sen. Gary Romine’s Education Committee.  Likewise we’ll see if other education reform bills get directed to Emery’s committee or Sen. Bill Eigel’s General Laws.

 

Fitz on Budget Situation

State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick explains the revenue shortfall in an KCStar op/ed.  See it here.

In August, I became aware of unusual revenue patterns. I reached out to the department of revenue and asked them for an explanation. At that time, the department had not yet identified the problem, which was greatly concerning… After a series of meetings, department officials provided an explanation: They had not accounted for the standard deduction in their federal estimate, which caused state withholdings to be set too low. It turns out that wasn’t the problem, because the standard deduction was always accounted for in federal tax tables. In October, the department issued new tables and tax instructions which actually double-counted the deduction.

So, the question remains: Where is the missing revenue? It turns out that taxpayer behavior plays a significant role in this situation.

For years, when filling out their withholding forms, many Missourians have elected zero allowances, also known as exemptions, because they want to receive a refund when they file their taxes in April… [but] because of the new federal tax code, claiming zero exemptions in order to receive a refund no longer works…

Instead of overpaying throughout the year and receiving a refund in the spring, people who historically elected zero allowances have already received their predicted refund — in the form of the reduced taxes taken from each paycheck…

The problems the current administration inherited are no excuse for a lack of communication from the department to Missouri taxpayers. Missourians deserve to hear the truth, not political grandstanding, when revenue issues arise.

 

Galloway Played Fair on Open Records

AP reports that “a judge has ruled that Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway did not violate the state's open records law after a conservative nonprofit sought records from an audit of the Department of Revenue. The Missouri Alliance for Freedom sued Galloway in May 2017, accusing her of not releasing all the records required under the Sunshine Law. Galloway's attorney noted during a trial in August that her office turned over screenshots of some text messages, along with 45,000 pages of other communications. A central issue was the auditor's office use of iPhones that automatically erase messages after 30 days. The Missouri Alliance for Freedom said that policy violated the office's procedures for preserving records. Cole County Judge Jon Beetem ruled Monday that the organization hadn't proven the auditor's office either intentionally or mistakenly violated the Sunshine Law.”

 

Parson Warns on Artic Blast

As dangerously cold temperatures overtake Missouri this week, Governor Mike Parson is urging Missourians to understand the many hazards that come with the extreme cold and to take precautions to protect their families… The National Weather Service is predicting dangerously cold wind chill values of -5 to -40 degrees F across the state on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The most life-threatening wind chill values will occur across the northern half of the state on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning… People need to also remember that an unexpected vehicle breakdown could turn into an extremely dangerous situation if they are unprepared-- remember to bring an extra set of warm clothing when traveling. Do not let the warmth of your vehicle give you a false sense of security…  See it here.

 

Bits

Former Rep. Courtney Curtis formed a new LLC, The Blank Forms LLC.

 

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) is seeking responses from qualified Bidders to furnish the department with purchasing sponsorships at 24 dirt track and minor league sport venues. The Bidder must provide promotion, set up, fan interaction, advertising and education at the dirt track venues and other minor league sporting events. The Bidder must also provide the necessary personnel for the events; therefore, eliminating the need for MoDOT personnel time in these endeavors. The contract period will be from Date of Award to December 31, 2019, with three (3) one-year renewal options.

 

Governor Mike Parson appointed Cindy McDaniel, Mary “Mimi” Stiritz, and Martha “Kacky” Daugherty to the Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

 

Speaker Elijah Haahr appointed Reps. Patricia Pike, Sara Walsh and Paula Brown to serve on the Joint Committee on Public Employee Retirement; Reps. Gina Mitten and Peter Merideth to serve on the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules; Reps. Bryan Spencer, Paula Brown, Ingrid Burnett and Tommie Pierson Jr. to serve on the Joint Committee on Education; and Rep. Travis Fitzwater to the Missouri Technology Corporation. 

 

eMailbag: Readers Duel on Senate 19

Let's not give either Rowden or Webber too much credit in that race. Rowden raised a ridiculous amount of money and only won by about 2000 votes. That's with the benefit of a Trump bump motivated by huge turnout from otherwise infrequent voters. In a 48-52 race, you'd really be out on a limb to say that Rowden's not a little worried.

On the Webber side… he never really had a good answer to the pretty valid criticism that he missed a solid number of votes during his time in the House. I have some love for the guy, but I don't think that was his best foot forward. The specter of a better run campaign in that district has to keep Rowden up at night.

Alternatively, I am a little more worried about SD1. When I look at who voted and the final results in the Revis and Settlemoir-Berg races, I see South County / northern Jeff Co that is VERY white, and votes decidedly more ex-urban than suburban.

 

Lobbyist Registrations

Jeffrey Altmann added Morelock Builders & Associates.

Hannah Beers added Jared Enterprises.

Jeffrey Brooks, Cynthia Gamble, Kathryn Gamble, David Jackson, Jorgen Schlemeier, Sarah Schlemeier, Olivia Wilson and Sarah Topp added State Technical College of Missouri.

Donald Charles Otto added Missouri Funeral Trust, and Missouri Funeral Directors and Embalmers Association.

Sean Redmond and Glenn Spencer added US Chamber of Commerce.

Tony Dugger added Missouri Coin Operators Association on behalf of Hahn O'Daniel LLC.

Roxsen Koch added OutFront Media.

 

New Committees

Destiny PAC was formed.  Its treasurer is Everet Ballard.

 

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to Tommie Pierson (Sr), Craig Redmon, Brian Schmidt, Wayne Bledsoe, and Allison Bruns.