MOScout Daily Update: Fear of GOP Factions - Budget in House - Stenger Lawyers Up and more...

Roeber Update

From KCStar’s Crystal ThomasJust checked with University Hospital. Rep. [Rebecca Roeber’s] condition has been upgraded from “critical” to “serious.” Putting aside HIPAA speak, that means she’s doing better than before.

 

Fear of GOP Factions

At the beginning of the month, I asked my “Hallway Index,” focus group of lobbyists what they saw as the greatest threat to a successful session.  In a relatively unprecedented sign of near unanimity (82%), they said: “Republican factions in the Senate.”

Their fear seemed to be on display Monday night in Senate when members of the Conservative Caucus stood to inquire about SB 264, a seemingly non-controversial part of Governor Mike Parson’s reorganization.

One Republican, with smoke coming out of his ears, asks me: “How is blocking the transfer of the Arts Council to Lt Gov ‘small gov?’”

What It Means

I’ve written this a zillion times before, but once more won’t hurt: the Senate is a mercurial creature, and you never really know how things will turn on any given day.  But if that Republican’s read of the mood is correct, and the Conservative Caucus continues to expand the bills in its sights, there could be a blow-up.  “Might be a relatively easy last few weeks for the Dems. If the majority of the [Republican] caucus has to decide about whether to pick a fight with Dems or Conservatives, I think they might choose the latter…”

 

Driving the Day

House Elections Committee (8AM this morning in HR6) will have hearings on bills to change the initiative petition process.  Democrats are not happy as they’ve used the IP process to enact progressive policies recently.

Dem press release: The legislation up for consideration Wednesday drastically escalates Republican contempt for voters by seeking to destroy the initiative process. “Sometimes direct democracy is the only way to achieve progress when an unresponsive legislature refuses to act on important issues,” said House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield. “An attack on the initiative process is an attack on democracy itself, and House Democrats will not allow the voices of Missouri voters to be silenced.”

Those proposals include:

·         Reducing votes on initiative measures to non-binding status by allowing only measures referred to the ballot by the General Assembly to take effect if approved by voters. (HJR 6)

·         Drastically increasing the number of signatures required for an initiative petition to qualify for the ballot. (HJR 10, HJR 11, HJR 25, HJR 45 and HJR 50)

·         Requiring a supermajority of voters, instead of the current simple majority, to approve measures placed on the ballot by initiative petition. (HJR 7, HJR 25 and HJR 45)

·         Imposing excessive and cost-prohibitive fees in order to submit initiative petitions. (HB 290)

 

Budget Moves Forward

The House perfected the budget bills, on schedule to third read them on Thursday and send them to the Senate.

One observer sums up: “If you liked the governor's budget or the FY19 budget, you'll like this one. K-12 is safe. Higher education is safe. Medicaid provider rates are safe. The reorganization of DED is safe. Workforce development programs are safe. State employees get a 3% increase at mid-year. Plus, $100 million down payment on a multi-year bridge repair program.”

But

To reiterate what I wrote yesterday, the bigger picture budget situation should have folks quaking in their boots.  We’re in the best economic environment right now and running behind on revenues.  A recession or slow-growth economy will make the budget process very painful.

Axios reports that “yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes fell below 3-month Treasury bills on Friday for the first time since 2007, triggering a major recession indicator.”

3-month: 2.46%

6-month: 2.49%

10-year: 2.42%

Yield curves invert ahead of economic slumps as the market anticipates lower rates and tries to lock in the long-term rates before they drop.  The higher demand for those longer maturities drives their price up and yields down.  (The other explanation here is that this is not about demand for the long-end, but rather supply on the short-end; the Trump trillion-dollar deficits are flooding the supply of short-term debt.  Who knows?)

 

Towing Bill

Rep. Nate Tate’s HB 749 passed out of the House Transportation Committee 13 to 0.  The bill “creates the ‘Towing Task Force’ and includes one member of the House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker and one member of the Senate appointed by the President Pro Tem, as

specified in the bill. The task force will make recommendations on overcharges, customer complaints, and the process for nonconsensual towing used by law enforcement. A report to the General Assemblymust be submitted March 1, 2021…”

This comes on heels of a KCTV news story about the industry being concerned of bad actors.  See it here.

 

File Under: Shitz Gettin’ Real

St. Louis Business Journal reports that “St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger has hired noted criminal defense attorney Scott Rosenblum… Among his many high-profile cases, Rosenblum most recently represented former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens…”

 

Tweet of the Day

Sen. Doug Libla tweetsI-70 motorists will get a taste of what future repair delays will feel like @ 9am this morning as crews inspect the Rocheport bridge by closing one East bound lane (Westbound later) MoDot has done a good job of keeping this 60 yr old bridge usable. Needs replacing.

 

eMailbag: Committee Frustration

Given the way committees are being run this year, why do we still even have them?

·         House hearings have severely limited testimony and questions of witnesses….

·         Senate committees are not allowing any amendments in committee.

·         House committee subs are being voted out with major changes before anyone gets to see or analyze them - including committee members.

·         Major bills are getting introduced as committee subs for the first time with no hearing whatsoever…

Sorry for the rant, but I can't imagine I'm the only person in the building who is thinking this way.

 

$5K+ Contributions

MO Drive Fund - $12,500 from DRIVE Committee.

Professional Fire Fighters of Eastern Missouri 2665 PAC Fund - $16,821 from Professional Firefighters of Eastern Missouri.

 

Lobbyists Registrations

Jeffrey Altmann added The Elster Law Office.

Jacqueline Bardgett added Independent Colleges & Universities of Missouri.

James Harris added Missouri Alliance of Professional Bail Bond Agents.

David Linton added Jefferson County Public Sewer District.

 

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to former Reps. Mike Leara, and Mike Kelley, and Dave Stokes.