Driving the Day
Lots of eyes will be on the 9AM Budget Conference Committee. The expectation is that we’ll see a DACA tug-of-war. The House will attempt to revert to its language on how much tuition is charged those students.
On the Senate Floor last night, Sen. Jason Holsman, who led the fight for the Senate’s position last go-round, said that he’d proposed a compromise. It would exclude recent DACA students. However it wasn’t accepted.
The constitutional deadline to pass the budget is tomorrow. In other words, there’s not a whole lot of time left to negotiate.
Driving Last Night
Yesterday the Senate spent hours on two hot-button bills. First, they debated the major abortion bill for this session. And then they debated the effort to curtail eminent domain powers for the Grain Belt Express. Neither showed much progress. They adjourned at the relatively early hour of 10:30PM.
The rollercoaster final weeks of session continued yesterday as the House-Senate showdown over a prescription drug monitoring program nearly veered into venomous personal territory.
The first move of the morning came from Rep. Rocky Miller, who chairs one of the House’s two Rules Committee. That committee voted down Sen. Denny Hoskins’ bill dealing with CPA. Hoskins has been critical of the House for stalling his – and others – bills.
Miller may have thought this was the equivalent of “shooting a hostage” so the negotiators will take you seriously about the other hostages you have. But with Hoskins sitting in the front row of the committee when it happened, the action acquired a much more personal edge.
Afterwards Miller, sensing his gamesmanship may have been a step too far, went to Hoskins’ office and apologized. The two “hugged it out,” according to one building denizen. And Miller made his apology whole by reconvening his committee and reversing course. Hoskins’ bill was approved and voted out.
One rotunda dweller tells me that it’s possible that relations have passed their nadir. This source thinks that we’ll see PDMP get some floor time in the Senate, and the House will begin releasing the bills it’s held up.
Sen. Jamilah Nasheed told Floor Leader Caleb Rowden yesterday that she in the midst of her fasting for Ramadan, and it’d be nice if the Senate could have a little less drama.
Gov’s GM Play
Governor Mike Parson is attempting to “piggyback” the relative popularity of GM incentives with their own legislative agenda, drawing annoyance from the legislature.
The package unveiled by the governor’s office included some items that have stalled so far this session, together with the tax credits for General Motors’ investment.
One hallway walker shrugged “that’s what politicians do.” But smoke is starting to drift out of the ears of some legislators who see the move as unnecessarily complicating the process.
The governor’s play appears to be aimed at the St. Charles senators Bob Onder and Bill Eigel. As part of the Conservative Caucus they’ve criticized the “closing fund” proposal as a potential “slush fund,” and questioned whether the workforce training programs will have any actual impact. They both are believed to be supportive of the GM incentives, though, which will help their districts.
We’ll see if the governor’s office sticks with the if you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding approach.
In the meantime, we’re in a holding pattern on amending the package into a vehicle. I expected that to happen on Monday, and here we are on Thursday….
CLEAN Contra Rowden
Sean Soendker Nicholson tweeted a 30-second TV spot that CLEAN Missouri is starting to run in Columbia today. See it here. It blasts Sen. Caleb Rowden for working to overturn the successful reform package.
· One observer says it’s smart… The majority floor leader is a natural target in competitive Boone County, plus mid-Missouri ads are value-added since they are seen by other Capitol denizens. Smart ad buy.
· But another chuckles, noting that the narrator says “Call Caleb Rowden and tell him not to overturn the will of the people.” The ad never provides a phone number.
Yikers! Great Circle CEO Arrested
Post Dispatch reports… “The chief executive of a child welfare agency and alternative school here who was charged Tuesday with endangering the welfare of a child was seen on video choking a youth, according to court documents. Vincent Damian Hillyer, CEO of Great Circle, also ordered employees to falsify reports about the child, court records say.
Hillyer, of Hillington Court in Eureka, was charged Tuesday with six counts of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree, all felonies, a count of attempting to endanger the welfare of a child in the second degree, a felony, and a count of assault in the fourth degree, a misdemeanor.
Great Circle provides behavioral health services to thousands of children statewide through its counseling centers, home services and campuses…”
Juden’s Travel Investigated
Soon after Governor Mike Parson installed Sandra Karsten as Director of Public Safety, the administration requested Auditor Nicole Galloway’s help to investigate some spending from the previous director, Drew Juden.
KOMU reports that the investigation centers on Juden’s travel spending. See it here.
Travel spending, frequent use of a travel agency and high mileage on a vehicle all came under scrutiny during a review of the Missouri Department of Safety Director’s Office, according to documents obtained by KOMU 8 News…. In the initial review, staff made comments next to 34 transactions about whether spending at hotels was higher than the federal Continental United States, or CONUS, rate…. In an email to the staff conducting the initial review, Karsten commented on vehicle mileage. “The mileage reports that we sent on Monday were very interesting," Karsten said in the email... The audit Parson requested is ongoing. Galloway spokeswoman Steph Deidrick estimated the report would be released this summer.
· Post-Dispatch put the subpoena for Steve Stenger’s cell phone on its website. See it here. The juiciest part is what’s redacted, indicating the on-going investigation still has some surprised perhaps.
· Speaker Elijah Haahr appointed Reps. David Evans, Brenda Shields, Ann Kelley, and Hannah Kelly to the Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect; and removed Rep. David Wood from the Joint Committee on Public Assistance.
Heath Clarkston, Doug Nelson, and Kurt Schaefer added Navigant Consulting Inc.
David Linton added Lake Perry Lot Owners Association.
Happy birthdays to John Ashcroft, Gregg Keller, Scott Penman, and Don Hicks.