Week Ahead in the Senate
Floor Leader Caleb Rowden indicated that the Senate may see floor time this week on several items that have been brought up before.
· Sen. Mike Bernskoetter’s SB 391 to preempt local jurisdictions from regulating CAFOs.
· A return to one of the tort reform bills, perhaps one of the changes to merchandising practice law that are in the mix. Some folks think that the joinder and venue legislation passed earlier in session “doesn’t count” as tort reform because a large part of it was already handled by the courts.
· And prescription drug monitoring program which hasn’t seen hardly any floor debate. Conservative Caucus has vowed to oppose it, but there’s a strong case being made by other conservatives that killing this bill effectively yields the issue to St. Louis County, whose PDMP covers most of the state already.
Rowden said it was “doubtful” that the Title IX bill would come back up again. With only three weeks left Rowden wants to believe there’s a reasonable “path forward” for anything that takes substantial floor time.
In other words, Rowden is keeping one eye on the House. Because the House has passed PDMP, he knows if a compromise can be achieved in the Senate, it can find its way to the governor’s office. But Speaker Elijah Haahr hasn’t even put the House’s Title IX bill on the calendar. Why spend time on it if it’s going nowhere on that side of the building?
What folks aren’t talking so much about anymore…
· Charter school expansion was a hot issue at the start of session, but the hospitalization of Rep. Rebecca Roeber who was the champion in the House for that issue has effectively sidelined the issue this session.
· Labor reform has been a staple legislative priority of every session since Republicans took control. But after the RTW thrashing at the ballot box, this session there’s been no serious push. In part, perhaps, because Governor Mike Parson would prefer to work with labor on his top priorities of workforce development and infrastructure.
House 99 in Play?
I had a couple of people – from both sides of aisle – tell me that I shouldn’t write off Democrats’ chances in the House 99 special election this November. They say…
· Special elections are always dependent on turn-out, and odd bounces can happen.
· This district can swing. Yes, it’s been represented by Republican state reps, but... it voted for Claire McCaskill in 2018.
· It’s a suburban district which could be subject to mood changes depending on the most recent act in Trump’s circus.
· Look for Republicans to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to hold it, and for Dems to marshal their ground forces to try to win it.
It’s a bit like Elvis sightings at this point, but I had three different folks in the building last week reporting “sightings” of the former governor, Eric Greitens. All at coffee shops, one in St. Louis, two in Kansas City, and one in Columbia.
I don’t know any politicos who think that a Greitens comeback is a serious possibility, but folks still consider it wearily…
· His campaign committee still has $737K in it – more than every other statewide elected official except Governor Mike Parson.
· He still has residual name ID, and there are lots of Trumpians who will discount allegations (and evidence) if you repeat phrases like “witch hunt” and “rigged.”
· The stakes of Greitens re-entering the public realm are very high. Republicans in the building like the way things are humming now. They like the drama-free nature of this session. They abhor any possible future that returns them to the Greitens world.
Rumorville: 2nd Ethics Case?
One good source thinks we’ll be hearing from the House Ethics Committee concerning another case on which they’ve been deliberating. With only three weeks left, they probably want to wrap up their work.
Food for Thought: Uber Future
Axios Markets links to a Georgetown study of Uber drivers. See it here.
From the study…
· Uber's payment system is so difficult to understand that 100% of participants had trouble figuring out how much they were actually earning.
· One female driver even calculated that she was making less than $5 an hour after expenses.
· Despite these challenges, the Uber workplace remained attractive. 50% of drivers would recommend the job to a friend, and 45% of drivers planned to keep working the job for at least 6 more months.
Axios thinks that “the study could put more pressure on Uber to release more detailed data on how it pays drivers and put it in the cross-hairs of legislators.”
What It Means
Uber is a proxy for the whole front wave of the “gig economy.” We’re feeling our way how the regulatory framework will be constructed, and whether labor unions will step into any new voids that have been created.
Happy birthdays to Brad Bates, and Belinda Harris.