The Associated Press’ Monday analysis focuses on Gov. Jay Nixon’s decision to stick to the political middle in this year’s bill signing process:
A year out from his re-election campaign, Nixon has just completed an annual bill signing season in which he managed to appeal to fellow Democrats by vetoing several politically charged bills while simultaneously appeasing Republicans by allowing legislation on several of their hot-button issues to become law.
“He’s positioned himself pretty well in the middle of the political spectrum,” said Peverill Squire, a political science professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
The Republican-led Legislature sent Nixon nearly 150 bills this year. He vetoed 14, allowed three to become law without his signature and signed the rest by last week’s deadline.
AP Reporter David Lieb’s Monday analysis focuses on the rancorous nature of the Missouri Senate’s GOP Caucus.
Even though Republicans have their largest majority in recent history, it doesn’t mean members have seen eye-to-eye on major issues. Case in point, Lieb notes, is a supposed deal to cut money out of a bill reauthorizing federal stimulus projects:
In a session where senators of both parties have compromised to pass several significant bills, a filibuster from four first-term Republican senators upset about federal spending highlighted the fact that Republican senators remains deeply divided - and can be difficult to lead.
Those four senators - Will Kraus of Lee’s Summit, Jim Lembke of St. Louis, Brian Nieves of Washington, and Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph - held up passage of a bill in March reauthorizing the ability of unemployed Missouri workers to receive long-term, federally funded jobless benefits. They finally relented from their filibuster in April, after negotiating a deal with Mayer and Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey.
Under the terms of that agreement, the filibustering senators allowed a vote on the bill renewing federally funded jobless benefits in exchange for an amendment reducing state-funded benefits and a pledge from Mayer and Dempsey to help identify up to $250 million of cuts to federal stimulus programs in Missouri.
In his Monday analysis, AP reporter David Lieb reports on how Republicans in the Missouri General Assembly are prepping themselves in case Gov. Jay Nixon vetoes controversial legislation.
From Lieb’s article:
Missouri’s Republican-led Legislature has been in a rush to pass legislation relating to hogs, dogs, discrimination and redistricting.
The common characteristic of the four topics is that they carry some controversy — and thus are potential veto targets for Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. And Republican legislative leaders want to put themselves in the best possible position in case they wish to attempt a veto override.
The political jockeying may be for naught; Nixon has not indicated whether he is inclined to sign or veto any of the bills. Yet it provides insight into the perceived political advantages and disadvantages that can influence how lawmakers handle key pieces of legislation.
At the root of the veto positioning is a provision in the Missouri Constitution that sets a deadline for the Legislature to end its annual session and a timeline for the governor to consider bills sent to his desk.
This week’s Monday analysis from the Associated Press focuses on how Gov. Jay Nixon and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder have similar political problems with travel.
From the article:
Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder suddenly has a lot more in common with Gov. Jay Nixon — and that could make Kinder’s likely challenge of Nixon a bit more complicated in the 2012 elections.What Missouri’s top two executives share is some heavy baggage when it comes to their travel at taxpayers’ expense. Nixon, a Democrat, has come under criticism for billing the cost of his frequent airplane flights to state agencies instead of his own office — essentially passing the buck to other parts of government at the very time he has been telling government to cut costs. That could have made for a compelling commercial by a political opponent.
But Kinder, a Republican, now also has come under criticism for charging taxpayers for his frequent hotel stays, many of them at posh places in the St. Louis area, albeit at a discounted government rate.
The article also noted how Kinder’s decision to reimburse the state was similar to when Nixon paid back roughly $47,000 for his use of state car when he was campaigning for governor.
This week’s AP Monday Analysis focuses on the genesis of the so-called “Fix the Six” initiative. It’s a batch of proposals being pushed by the state’s business community.
AP reporter David Lieb has more:
At of the midpoint of Missouri’s annual legislative session, the business community’s “Fix the Six” agenda has fared remarkably well. Five of its six priorities already have passed the House; half have cleared the more deliberative Senate. And Republican legislative leaders in both chambers cited their progress on the business agenda as their top accomplishments so far. Lawmakers are to return from their spring break Monday for the second half of their session that ends May 13.
The “Fix the Six” slogan refers to six legislative proposals. The top item would restrict people’s ability to bring workplace discrimination claims. The second would modify a 2005 business-backed law that made it more difficult for employees to win workers’ compensation claims. Both are touted as ways to reverse court decisions that business leaders contend have eroded the original intent of state laws.
Other prongs of the business agenda would phase out Missouri’s corporate franchise tax, eliminate an annual inflationary adjustment to Missouri’s minimum wage that was approved by voters in 2006, reduce the potential liability to businesses in personal injury lawsuits and tweak the state’s bonding ability in order to repay $825 million borrowed from the federal government for unemployment benefits.
The push for a second nuclear reactor in Callaway County is the subject the latest Monday analysis from the Associated Press.
AP reporter Chris Blank writes how lawmakers spearheading the effort are continuing with site permit legislation even though nuclear energy is under scrutiny due the events in Japan.
From the analysis:
Backers of legislation designed to help build a second Missouri nuclear power plant are pushing forward with the idea, despite an emergency in Japan set off by an earthquake, tsunami and overheating reactors.
Yet, fears of meltdowns, radiation and the long term ramifications of the Japanese situation have spread across the Pacific. It also has tinged Missouri’s debate about whether to let power companies charge their customers for taking a preliminary step toward potentially building a second reactor here.
“Obviously it’s bad timing,” said Republican Sen. Mike Kehoe, who has sponsored one of the proposals and whose central Missouri district could include a second nuclear plant. “You couldn’t ask for any worse timing probably … but I think it also gives you an opportunity to make sure you’re highlighting the safety features any nuclear plant has designed into it.”
The AP’s David Lieb writes this week about how Missouri lawmakers are attempting to undo voter initiatives and make it harder for organizations to place items on the ballot.
From the AP Analysis:
Missouri voters elect 197 people to make the state’s laws. But sometimes, voters make a law directly themselves. And when that happens, it doesn’t sit too well with some of their elected lawmakers.
That clash is being borne out this year in the Missouri Capitol, where some lawmakers are attempting to repeal key parts of high-profile laws enacted by voters in recent statewide elections.
The House is expected to debate legislation this week that would prohibit Missouri’s minimum wage from exceeding the federal minimum wage — essentially negating a 2006 voter-approved initiative that allowed Missouri’s minimum wage rise above the federal level based on annual inflationary adjustments.
Committees in the House and Senate also have advanced legislation that would repeal parts of an initiative approved last November by statewide voters that toughened laws for dog breeders. If lawmakers act soon, they could revoke parts of the dog law before it even takes effect this November.
Read the rest here. You can also read my article in the St. Louis Beacon about how lawmakers are attempting to make it more difficult to place items on the ballot.