The End of the Honeymoon?
Governor Mike Parson blasted the legislature in a statement to the Post-Dispatch, defending the embattled Director of the Department of Revenue, and dismissing legislators’ concerns as “political grandstanding.” It was Greitens-esque. And seemed to unify the Republicans and Democrats in the House. Pull quotes from the article…
· Speaker Elijah Haahr: “We are the people’s body and give all Missourians a voice in state government. A core constitutional function of the elected legislature is to have oversight over the unelected bureaucracy…”
· Chair Robert Ross: “It is unfortunate that the executive branch is confusing grandstanding with standing up for the taxpayers…”
· Minority Leader Crystal Quade: “Most Missourians are not certified public accountants or tax policy experts, and since they never needed to change their withholding information in previous years, it is unreasonable to expect they should have known to do so without Governor Parson’s Department of Revenue making robust efforts to inform them, which it completely failed to do…”
The hearings have not been kind to Director Joel Walters…
· Republican: “Walters knows he’s smarter than everyone in the room and he acts like it. That’s his problem.”
· His fondness for repeating that he spent “35 years in the private sector” has become a punchline reminiscence of Greitens bragging about being a Navy SEAL. Except that Walters doesn’t seem to realize he’s addressing part-time legislators; private sector employment isn’t something exotic in Jefferson City.
· And the bottom-line remains: he was slow to understand the impact of the Trump tax cuts on Missourians. When he did, he exhibited no urgency in trying to inform Missourians.
As Parson defends Walters (and bewilderingly takes ownership of Missourians’ vanishing tax refunds) to the House, the Senate side has seen his agenda seems stalled temporarily. It’s caught in a tangle with the new Conservative Caucus seemingly viewing the Fast Track program as just another government program – and willing to take it hostage for some education reform. So much for deference to the governor’s agenda…
Floor Leader Race
House Republicans will vote on their speaker-designate this summer. Farther down the road, but starting to heat up, is the race for the next floor leader. That vote will occur right after the November 2020 elections. And the two top names for that position right now are Reps. David Gregory and Dean Plocher.
Follow-Up on Schaaf Non-Profits
Yesterday I reported on two new non-profits formed – Show Me Integrity and Show Me Integrity Educational Fund. The name on the paperwork is Robert Schaaf, but… I’m told that this is not the former state senator. Rather it’s his son! More coming on this I assume….
Porn Charges For Ex-LA
AP reports that “a former legislative assistant who worked in the Missouri State Capitol pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal pornography charge. The case of Carter Ballmann, 25, of Jefferson City, had been moved from Cole County Circuit to federal court. Ballmann faces a minimum sentence of five years in prison for pleading guilty to one count of attempted receipt of child pornography, U.S. Attorney's Office officials said… The investigation leading to his arrest began after Ballmann responded to a post in April 2018 made by an undercover decoy from the Boone County Sheriff's Department Cyber Crimes Task Force who was masquerading as a 14-year-old girl. The department reported the decoy and Ballmann had exchanged online messages in which he requested the girl sneak out of her home and provide him with nude pictures… he worked as a legislative assistant in the office of former state Rep. Mark Matthiesen, R-Maryland Heights. After his arrest, Ballmann was terminated from his legislative job.”
KCStar reports that “Chris Sevier, the anti-gay, anti-porn advocate who met with Kansas lawmakers earlier this month, has been deemed a security concern in the Missouri Capitol. Missouri Senate Administrator Patrick Baker sent out an email early Thursday morning to the entire senate and staff with the subject line ‘security concern’ and a picture of Sevier. He said two Senate offices and one in the House of Representatives reported uncomfortable meetings with the former Tennessee lawyer… Sevier has made national headlines for his bizarre opposition to pornography and LGBTQ marriage. Since being deemed mentally unfit to practice law in 2011, he has tried to marry his laptop in multiple states and sued Apple Inc. for a porn addiction that he said ruined his marriage…”
Trump Wall $$$ From NGA?
Post-Dispatch reports “Sen. Roy Blunt said Thursday it is possible the White House could delay for six months funding of the ongoing construction of a new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency western headquarters in north St. Louis, but says he hopes that won't happen because of its importance to national security… In opposing Trump's move to shift that money, part of the president's national emergency declaration last week, Democrats claim some are at risk because Trump wants to divert money from military construction to the border wall. Two projects on that list are the $1.7 billion NGA headquarters and separate funding for a new hospital at Fort Leonard Wood. Roughly $300 million for the NGA is in this year's military construction budget.”
And Something to Scare the Bejesus Out of You
As Missouri contemplates various new forays into gambling… This does not paint a pretty picture.
Orville Dash sits in a recliner with a clipboard. Tall and broad-shouldered, with wispy white hair where a pompadour once rose, the former statistical engineer for Caterpillar removes a sheet of paper, clicks on the flashlight he uses for reading and goes over his numbers.
One spin every six seconds. Ten spins a minute. Six hundred spins an hour.
The 81-year-old widower estimates that, at his worst, in 2015 and 2016, he spent about $2,400 a week on video slot machines, which he played at a hotel and a handful of restaurants and bars around his hometown of Maroa, a farming community of close to 1,700 people north of Decatur in central Illinois…
In the 6 ½ years since video gambling went live in September 2012, some 30,000 video slot and poker machines have been installed at 6,800 locations around Illinois, more than in any other state. Gamblers here have lost over $5 billion playing the algorithm-driven machines, which have been described as “electronic morphine” and “the crack cocaine of gambling.”
eMailbag on Senate Leadership’s Response to “Rebels”
If you’re a lobbyist and Romine is carrying a bill for you, you might want to have a three year strategy for getting it done. You don’t refuse to lay a bill over when the Majority Leader asks and not suffer some consequences.
Edward Bell formed a candidate committee (Elect Edward Bell Committee) to run for Kansas City Council Person District 5.
Cynthia Gamble, Bill Gamble, David Jackson, Sarah Topp, Olivia Wilson, Jorgen Schlemeier, Sarah Schlemeier, Kathryn Gamble, and Jeffery Brooks added Netflix c/o MultiState Associates Inc.; and deleted Air Evac.
Wendy Lynn Callicoat added MOFarma21, and Sarcoxie Nursery.
Martha Fischer added University of Missouri System.
James Harris added Affordable Homes Development Inc; and deleted Carmichael & Neal, PC.
Michael Harrold added Cigna Corporate Services LLC.
Rodney Huckleberry added Convention of States Action.
Stephen Nittler added American Heart Association.
Property Casualty Insurers Association of America Political Account - $13,847 from American Property Casualty Insurance Association.
Voters Organized Through Education StL (aka Vote-StL PAC) - $75,000 from Joseph Wingate Folk Society Inc.
Graves Garrett LLC PAC - $25,000 from Chouteau PAC.
Supporters Of Festus R6 Schools - $7,000 from Huffman Roofing Systems, LLC.
Megan Green For The 15th Ward - $10,000 from Megan Green.
Happy birthdays to (Saturday) Rep. Paula Brown, and former Rep. Rick Stream (the big 7-0).
Sunday: Reps. Sonya Anderson and Peter Merideth, former Sens. Chuck Graham and Jolie Justus, Rich Chrismer, Stephen Conway, and Tracy King.