Stenger Rumors Running Hot
There’s a sense that the investigations surrounding St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s administration could be yielding some big news soon. One source thinks we could see indictments as soon as Friday. Adding fuel to the speculation are the string of omens…
· Issuance of Subpoenas: In the building, folks who have “seen this movie before” think that the previously reported subpoenas were a sign that the investigation was in the later stages, not early stages. The subpoenas – they think – were sweeping up evidence for testimony they had collected during interviews.
· Staff Departures: Lance LeComb and Bill Miller (chief of staff) exited from the administration, both to vaguely “pursue other opportunities.”
· Scott Rosenblum: St. Louis’ walking “keep-me-out-of-jail” card. Nobody hires Rosenblum unless things are serious. He’s too expensive for the small stuff.
· Little Pushback: What’s left of Team Stenger is hunkered down. Normally politicians are pushing back against news stories. Even before “witch hunt,” you’d at least get “fishing expedition,” or “frivolous” as euphuisms to declare innocence.
House Advances Cleaner MO
The House moved forward with a proposed constitutional amendment to totally ban lobbyists gifts and reverse the redistricting changes passed under CLEAN Missouri last year. This takes us one step closer to an explosive situation in the Senate.
Meanwhile Senate Perfected FRA Tax
After hours of debate on extending the FRA tax, the Senate backed off all extras and perfected a simple one-year extension. It’s without the addition managed care tax, and without Sen. David Sater’s work requirements. See the substitute here. It just changes “2019” to “2020.” In other words, we’ll be back here again next year.
Rep. Holly Rehder’s PDMP bill (HB 188) handled by Sen. Tony Luekemeyer came to Senate floor yesterday and was quickly laid over.
View from the Conservative Caucus
The entire Conservative Caucus met with the Governor and Senate Leadership and had very productive discussions.
Instead of more on-floor fighting, PDMP is laid over without a minute of debate, the new HMO tax is stripped out of the FRA, and the extension of the FRA is cut in half setting up the conservatives to push for Medicaid reform next session.
Auditor Nicole Galloway blasted out a “save the date” for a fundraiser May 30 at the home of Nancy Wilson in Columbia.
One MOScouter wryly remarked: “Sure is an early start for someone not up for re-election until 2022. Unless...”
Revenues Climb Into Positive Territory
As of the close of business April 22, state tax receipts were ahead of last year’s collection by $4.1 million or +0.06%. That’s still basically flat, but considering where we’ve come from it’s a very positive development.
I heard from two building denizens about the budget situation, one bullish and one bearish.
· The Bull: Pending refunds (meaning refund claims received but not yet paid) are down a little over 100 million as of yesterday. Meaning that adjusted for pending refund difference, revenue would be up over $100 million. Or north of 1%. And as of yesterday we are still about 45,000 returns behind last year. Meaning there are 45,000 filers fewer who's returns have been processed compared to this time last year. Probably a safe bet that a bunch of those are remitters.
· The Bear: May and June each have one less [working] day this year, and don’t forget we had a very strong June in 2018 so comparisons will be tough that month. I’d bet we end up down $80 million….
Cannabis Lobby Day
Missouri Cannabis Industry Association is having their lobby day today. According to an email blast, among the bills on their radar is SB 5 because it could block marijuana legalization down the road. “[S]ponsored by Sen. David Sater is a terrible bill. It would make it much harder for Missouri citizens to place any issue on the ballot and much harder to pass a Constitutional amendment like Amendment 2. Many of us hope to see adult use legalization of marijuana placed on the Missouri ballot within the next few years. If SB 5 passes, it will be almost impossible to do that.”
There’s been some discussion about the size of the market for medical marijuana. But industry players may be looking at the MMJ market as just the preliminary market, imagining a larger the full legalization market blossoming in the next decade.
KCStar on Title IX Motivation
KCStar reports that “after his son was accused and subsequently expelled from Washington University in St. Louis last year through the school’s Title IX process, a leading Jefferson City lobbyist launched a campaign to change the law for every campus in the state. Richard McIntosh has argued to legislators that Title IX, the federal law barring sexual discrimination in education and mandating that schools set up internal systems to police sexual violence, is tilted unfairly against the accused. His proposals — made first as a failed amendment to an unrelated bill near the end of the 2018 session and then this year as a full-fledged bill — create more protections for those accused of Title IX violations…. Had McIntosh’s 2018 amendment been enacted, it would have allowed his son to appeal the result of his Title IX hearing to the state Administrative Hearing Commission, where his mother and McIntosh’s wife, Audrey Hanson McIntosh, is the presiding and managing commissioner… Shortly after his son was expelled, McIntosh started a dark money group called Kingdom Principles dedicated to changing Title IX. The group has spent an unknown amount of money underwriting a group that is polling and buying ad time. Kingdom Principles is also bankrolling 29 lobbyists in the Capitol to push the bills — an unusual show of muscle for a single issue even in a state Capitol overrun with lobbyists…”
· Former Rep. Doug Ervin started a candidate committee to run for Clay County Commissioner. His treasurer is Rep. Ken Wilson.
· Austin Walker tweeted about St. Louis Regional Chamber’s recent hire. See it here. “I’m very excited to announce @NixReilly as the new Program Coordinator for Public Policy @STLRegChamber. Reilly will handle department logistics and oversee community engagement activities for the Chamber….”
· Politico reports that US Senator Amy Klobuchar is expanding her presidential campaign with several hires, including… “a trio of media advisers, all hailing from GPS Impact, are also jumping on board — Roy Temple, Jay Howser and Andi Johnson. Temple, who co-founded the consulting firm, has worked on a range of Senate and gubernatorial races, including Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and former Minnesota Sen. Al Franken.”
· House members have bounced Sen. Jill Schupp’s SB 373 off the consent calendar because they want to add some language. It deals with Holocaust Education and Awareness Commission Act, and I’m told Schupp approved of the changes they have in mind.
Best Thread on Twitter Yesterday
Dan Kleinsorge: Sometimes the system works. Link to article that “tire chalking” is unconstitutional.
James MN Harris: I hope Jefferson City ends this unconstitutional practice. cc @CarrieTergin
Chuck Hatfield: The ticket is like 5 bucks. Just feed the meter already.
Gregg Keller: Sorry you hate settled law, Chuck.
eMailbag on Mod Dems
Your take on moderate Dems was interesting, but when it comes to focusing attention on their positions on social issues, the Democrats are their own worst enemy. Just last summer, the state party expressed openness to pro-life Dems, only to be forced into a retraction during the ensuing controversy. The message was clear: the far left is in charge, and moderates are not welcome. Until that changes, MO Dems are going to continue struggling to compete statewide.
An initiative petition was filed to add a provision to the state constitution to enable recall of statewide elected officials. See it here.
H-Pac was formed. It’s a PAC. Its treasurer is Melissa Largent.
Doug Ervin formed a candidate committee (Citizens For Doug Ervin) to run for Associate Commissioner Eastern Clay County as a Republican.
Local 41 Political Action Fund - $17,570 from DRIVE.
Teamsters Local Union No 688 Political Action Committee - $10,143 from DRIVE Committee.
Missouri Leadership Fund - $10,000 from St Charles Noah Development LLC.
Lisa Christie added Donald Hermann on behalf of Cryptic River Management.
Jacqueline Clark added LafargeHolcim NA.
Mike Gibbons and Tricia Workman added Missouri Cattleman’s Association.
Shanon Hawk added Pace-O-Matic.
W “Wes” Scott Swain added Missouri Hemp Producers Association.
Happy belated birthdays to former Sen. Brian Munzlinger.