Two Weeks Left….
The legislative session ends on Friday May 17. Every day counts. Here’s a quick look where some of the higher profile issues appear to be right now. The issues that aren’t moving aren’t dead, but they will need a new jolt – a new compromise offer or trade offer – to get them back on track.
GM Wentzville Incentives – The expectation is that we’ll see a package unveiled as early as today. Legislative leaders will find a House bill on the Senate side or a Senate bill on the House side that can be amended to giddy-up the legislation. There are fears that conservatives will shake a saber under the banner of “corporate welfare.” However, the two chieftains of that tribe hail from the area where the incentives would be targeted, so that helps quiet any rebellion.
Budget – The constitutional deadline to pass the budget is this Friday. The conference committee is scheduled for 8:30AM Tuesday morning. They’ll meet; they’ll postpone; they’ll haggle and trade; meet again; and meet in the middle. By Friday they’ll have a budget.
Bonding for Transportation – Part of the budget conversations will be how much general revenue is dedicated to go to the bridge maintenance and repair program. That will be determine the size and duration of the bonding.
PDMP – Floor Leader Caleb Rowden said at last week’s press availability that prescription drug monitoring program will be debated in the Senate this week. The Senate’s Conservative Caucus has previously been adamant that there’s no compromise. And yet other conservatives seem genuinely optimistic that there’s a deal to be had. Their belief is that they can offer greater protections to individuals with a statewide PDMP than the current PDMP emanating from St. Louis County. Why wouldn’t they take that deal? Particularly if it helps them with another issue on the table…
Video Lottery Machine, Sports Better et al - These bills have all stalled recently. It’s not to say that they’re dead. But they don’t have any momentum right now. If the budget numbers hadn’t rebounded you might have folks looking at them for additional revenue. However, in the absence of urgency, there are too many opponents to push it forward.
ESA, Charters, et al – The school choice issues, similarly, haven’t gained any traction. Rep. Rebecca Roeber’s accident made the House path harder; and Sen. Gary Romine has been immovable in the Senate. Speaker Elijah Haahr said recently it’s one of his top priorities, but he sounded like he was already looking towards next session.
LIHTC – A gap has opened up between the House version and Senate version. Normally you iron these things out in conference. But the 31-0 Senate vote means there’s not a whole lot of give on their side. Plenty of time to find the compromise, just probably can’t happen until folks have declared it dead a few times.
Wayfair – I can’t understand why this wouldn’t get to a compromise in the final weeks. Some folks have mentioned it as knotted up with other issues, or being used as leverage. But this should be one of the easier issues to resolve because it’s just a question how to divvy up the money it would generate.
Grain Belt Eminent Domain – This is a big priority for the speaker and yet it faces tough headwinds in the Senate. Look for the House to attach this as many bills as they can, as they try to force the Senate to go along. It could become what former Sen. Victor Callahan once called “syphilitic rats” as it spreads from bill to bill infecting each one to doom.
Abortion and CLEANER – I put these two together because folks in the building are seeing possible Senate PQs for them. Dems have to decide if they’re some version or compromise language they can live with. We’ll see….
Meanwhile, CLEAN III?
The CLEAN folks are not twiddling their thumbs in the face of a Republican legislative move to rescind their redistricting plan through CLEANER. Here’s the talk….
· It’s unclear what CLEAN defenders’ best strategy is: whether to fight CLEANER on its own, or put forth their own new IP, a.k.a CLEANEST.
· As far as I can tell they haven’t committed to a course of action yet.
· CLEAN folks appear confident that they will have money and resources regardless of the path they choose.
· If they go the CLEANEST route, some of the ideas being floated are extraordinary: criminalization of the reforms; lobbyists must disclose how much they are paid; and a cap on legislative salaries not to exceed the statutory minimum salary for teachers.
One source, who imagines the dueling IPs campaigns and various legal challenges, marvels: If things keep going the way they are it is going to going to be a hell of a fight. A lot of attorneys and consultants will be able to finance their kid’s education!
The Party’s Over…
MOScouter on the Post-Dispatch article referring to “party lights” coming down from Steve Stenger’s office: I saw these lights from the street one time when I was driving by the county office building in the evening. It really bugged me…I mean who puts party lights up in a government office - what kind of message does that send - especially when the voters can see them from the outside. Can you imagine if Parson put up party lights in the Governor’s office?
But There’s Another Party Still Going….
St. Louis Public Radio reporting on Stenger’s court appearance hints that they’re more coming.
Stenger spent most of the hearing standing at a lectern with his attorney Scott Rosenblum. He methodically answered Perry’s questions, including whether he was aware that his guilty plea would void any opportunities for appeal. Under the deal, Stenger also avoids additional prosecution relating to exchanging campaign contributions for contracts.
We’ll see where it leads, but it could be rolling up other still unknown pay-for-play schemes.
Quality Child Care Report Coming
News Tribune reports on the Governor’s Child Care Working Group. See it here.
The group has looked at how other states conduct the business of child care, and found Tennessee, Maryland and several other states have enjoyed successes beyond their peers.
Made up of staff from the governor's office, the attorney general's office and state departments of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), Social Services (DSS), Public Safety, and Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) — the group came about, in part, in response to several highly publicized incidents of children being mistreated at day care centers.
But, improvements to the state's child care system will also help assure improved "workforce infrastructure," according to DHSS Director Randall Williams…
Spearheaded by DHSS, DSS and DESE, it is tasked with making recommendations to the governor June 1 about how best to ensure safe, quality child care.
Snorted my coffee when I read [in Hallway Index comments] that Eigel and Onder have made it a habit to reject fair compromises! If they have been offered fair ones they have taken them. Funny that people think they are the only road blocks on a two-way street!
19 Ward Democratic Association was formed. It’s a PAC. Its treasurer is Queen Byrd.
Happy birthday to Rep. Tom Hannegan.