Finally, here’s a compilation video I made on Tuesday of various reactions to changes made in wide-ranging economic development legislation. Those changes included taking out a $300 million portion of a plan aimed at luring a “China Hub” to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.
Some lawmakers say other elements of the bill - such a program called Compete Missouri - can accomplish that goal. Others - like House Speaker Steve Tilley, R-Perryville - don’t approve of the idea because it provides too much power to the Department of Economic Development.
It looks as if the Missouri Senate is going to adjourn until Monday afternoon to review a big economic development bill that includes incentives aimed at creating a “China hub” at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.
But at least one lawmaker - Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph - wondered aloud whether the respite is simply delaying the inevitable. Above is an audio clip of Schaaf speaking with Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau. Schaaf - a doctor - compared the economic development bill to a dying cancer patient.
[Also, apologies for the background noise in the clip. My computer was being louder than usual.]
Sen. Jason Crowell sent out a Capitol Report today that sharply criticizes incentives aimed at creating a “China hub” at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.
Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, has been a notable critic how how the state doles out tax credits. And that antipathy extends to the so-called Aerotropolis plan, which could allocate $360 million in tax credits over time to entice Chinese cargo to come to Lambert.
From the Capitol Report:
Aerotropolis is an idea conceived by Greg Lindsey in his bookAerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next and is defined as an “international trade zone that uses multiple modes of transportation to move goods.” In order to create this trade zone, a large amount of warehouse space is needed to store products and this is where the state is being asked to spend your tax dollars. Supporters of Aerotropolis in St. Louis claim that in order to get investors to build this warehouse space and then to attract air carriers to St. Louis, Missourians must give out $360 million in tax credits to developers and the airport.
Aerotropolis though, as written in leaderships’ bill, is not about economic growth but is a handout to rich campaign contributors. Requirements, such as for a developer to qualify for Aerotropolis tax credits, warehouses must be built on 100 contiguous acres of land or in specially designated areas mean that only a select few developers who donate massive amounts to politicians, could qualify for these tax credits. If that wasn’t enough, according to real estate company CB Richard Ellis, there is currently over 18 million square feet of vacant warehouse space already developed in St. Louis and no need for new warehouse space. However, as currently written in leaderships’ bill, 80 percent of Aerotropolis tax credits will go to new construction, rewarding the politically connected developers while hurting business owners trying to lease their existing space; this must be changed. The leaderships’ bill even gives the Mayor of St. Louis and St. Louis County Executive the power to be the gatekeeper to these state tax credits. The Mayor of St. Louis City and Executive of St. Louis County must not be allowed to spend state dollars unilaterally without any accountability or oversight. Finally, the leaderships’ bill is not tied to an increase in international trade. Strong clawbacks and taxpayer protections must be included in order to ensure that Aerotropolis tax credits do not become a taxpayer funded “Air Bridge to Nowhere” boondoggle.
It’s worth noting that the last time Crowell sent out such a report, it was in regards to an preliminary redistricting map. Those objections eventually influenced alterations in the final product.
Thus, it wouldn’t be surprising if Crowell had a hand in changing aspects of the economic development bill that will be debated a special session in September.
Courtesy of Missouri News Horizon, here’s an extensive interview with Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, on site permit legislation.
Crowell has been an opponent of a bill that would allow ratepayers to pick up the tab for the permit that could pave the way for a new nuclear power plant in Callaway County.
Senators gave a rough reception to a reconfigured congressional map passed last week by the Missouri House, with at least two senators vowing to squash the proposal.
The Missouri House overwhelmingly approved a map last Wednesday shrinking the state’s congressional delegation from nine to eight representatives. Because Missouri’s population didn’t grow fast enough with the rest of the country, it must lose a congressional seat.
Both House and Senate committees approved somewhat similar maps that encased St. Louis City in one congressional district, effectively pitting U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis City, and U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis City, against each other. They also created an expansive northern Missouri district and added several rural counties to U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s Kansas City-based 5th District.
But some senators Tuesday expressed outright disdain for some aspects of the House map, including the way Jefferson County was split up and the manner in which some rural counties were arranged. Many stated a preference for the Senate map, which hasn’t been debated on the floor yet.
Sen. Jason Crowell – a Republican from Cape Girardeau who publicly criticized how a big chunk of Jefferson County was placed into U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson’s district – said the House map would likely not make it out of the Senate.
“I don’t mind telling you I have no intention of letting us come to a vote on the House map,” Crowell said in an exchange with Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mt. Vernon. “I think the House map is a wrong direction to go for a variety of reasons, chief among them is the area that I represent – the 8th Congressional District.”
Crowell reiterated his concerns about Jefferson County becoming a population center, which he said will shift the district so much that “it will no longer be what it always has been.”
Sen. Ryan McKenna, D-Jefferson County, said he opposed the way Jefferson County was divided. In the House proposal, the fast-growing county would be split between districts currently held by Emerson, U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Town and Country, and U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth.
“I don’t like either one of them,” McKenna said, referring to the House and Senate proposals.
That grumbling wasn’t just relegated to Crowell, McKenna and Stouffer. Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, expressed concern over Polk County being split between two congressional districts. Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said he was worried about Randolph County being divided, while Sen. Luann Ridgeway, R-Smithville, said she was opposed to Clay County’s arrangement.
Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton - who objected to how Ray, Saline and Lafayette County were drawn into Cleaver’s district - echoed Crowell’s sentiments about the House map’s chances of passing.
“I think what [Sen. Scott Rupp, R-Wentzville] needs to hear today is that this map doesn’t have a chance to go through this body,” Stouffer said. “I think there are enough senators that have a better solution. And I think that’s why we’re out here today – to give him that message that this one has a problem. And it’s a problem from a number of us, not just one.”
Rupp is the chairman of a Senate redistricting committee who handled the House map on the Senate floor. He laid the proposal over after roughly two hours of debate.
What could happen is that the Senate will construct a different proposal, sending the competing bills to a conference committee. It will be interesting to see how many votes that map receives in both chambers, and whether it’s enough to withstand a veto from Gov. Jay Nixon.
You may recall that Sen. Jason Crowell late last month blasted a proposed congressional map put out by a House committee on redistricting.
Today, Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, sent out a follow-up of sorts Tuesday expounding upon why he opposes the map placing a big chunk of Jefferson County into the congressional district currently represented by U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson.
“There are two directions the 8th Congressional District can expand to add voters to our district,” Crowell wrote. “The first is north into Jefferson County, which as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the executive department in charge of drafting the federal budget, is part of the St. Louis metropolitan area. The other direction is to head west into Southern Mid-Missouri.”
“The question then becomes, what kind of voters do we want to bring into our home district?” Crowell added. “The 8th Congressional District is a great district defined by its focus on farms, small businesses, and socially conservative voters who usually elect representatives that reflect these values. In considering every possible way to expand the 8th Congressional District, it is important to look at the kind of voter that will be added to the district.”
Because Jefferson County would be a population center, Crowell said that area would major receive consideration from the person representing the district.
“The result of the proposed House map will transfer the influence in the U.S. Congress from Southeast Missouri to St. Louis,” Crowell wrote. “No longer will priorities of farms and small business found in counties such as Cape Girardeau, Madison, Stoddard, Bollinger, Scott, Perry, Butler, Phelps and others be the primary concern of your Congressional representative. Instead federal bailouts and labor issues found in the St. Louis area will dictate the district’s priorities because there will be more votes coming from that area.”
“The values of Jefferson County voters are entirely different than the values of voters in Southeast Missouri. Jefferson County is primarily a democratic blue collar county,” Crowell added. “Their current U.S. Congressman is a Democrat, most of their State Representatives are Democrats and the 61,000 of the 103,000 residents being added by the House proposed 8th Congressional District have elected a Democratic State Senator. While you can point to parts of Jefferson County being rural, its voters and elected leaders have totally different views than those in the current 8th Congressional District.”
Crowell went onto say that a map proposed in a Senate redistricting committee was more to his liking.
“The alternative proposal by the Senate would ensure there is no fundamental change in the type of voter of the 8th Congressional District by, except for Taney County, keeping those counties and then adding 18,145 residents from Ste. Genevieve and 24,696 residents from Crawford Counties, as well as 41,008 residents from Jefferson County and 18,486 residents from Webster County,” Crowell wrote.
Crowell’s objection is worth noting because Republicans need as many votes as possible to withstand a possible veto from Gov. Jay Nixon. If some southeast Missouri lawmakers vote against the map in the House, it may not have enough votes to achieve a supermajority.
A Republican senator from southeast Missouri expressed outrage Thursday over a proposed congressional map unveiled yesterday by a House committee.
State Sen. Jason Crowell sent out an e-mail on Thursday afternoon with a headline “IMMEDIATE ACTION ALERT” in red font. Crowell’s e-mail asked citizens to call House members over the plan to include a big chunk of Jefferson County in what is now U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson’s district.
“Shifting the center of the district from Southeast Missouri to St. Louis is extremely harmful in how you are represented,” said Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, in the e-mail. “The issues important to St. Louis are not the same issues that are important to Southeast Missouri.”
One example of this, Crowell said, was the way Jefferson County voted on a proposition enacting dog breeding regulations. Jefferson County overwhelmingly supported the measure known as Prop B, while the vast majority of southeast Missouri counties opposed the measure.
“Because Missouri’s population decreased since 2000, the process of redrawing maps is even more difficult this year because Missouri lost a congressional seat,” Crowell said. “However, this should not mean Southeast Missouri’s voice in the U.S. Congress should be sold out to St. Louis.”
“It is CRITICAL that state representatives hear from as many of you as possible in the next few days about the importance of not selling out Southeast Missouri’s representation in the U.S. Congress by including 103,000 Jefferson County residents in the 8th congressional district,” Crowell added.
The House could debate the proposed map next week.
In light of the Japanese nuclear crisis, will efforts to build another nuclear reactor in Callaway County stall? That’s question from my latest article for the St. Louis Beacon.
From the story:
In an interview with the Beacon, Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, said he doesn’t think Japan’s situation will influence the debate over site permit legislation.
“We knew and we know that we’re in an earthquake alley. And I’m sure that was all debated out when we first located the first reactor in the Callaway area,” said Crowell, who is sponsoring a site permit bill with a funding stream for the Office of Public Counsel. “I think we’re going to focus more on the actual text of the legislation and keep our prayers and thoughts with the people of Japan right now.”
Crowell said there are numerous differences between nuclear plants in the United States and others around the world. For one, he said the problems are emanating from failure of backup power sources to cool the Japanese reactors down. He said American plants have “triple redundancy” of power sources.
“If I thought Japan was going to impact this, we would be talking about shutting down” the current nuclear reactor in Callaway County, he said. “And I don’t think anyone is advocating shutting down Callaway.”
Even though he wasn’t a member of the committee, Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, was present for a marathon hearing over site permit legislation that could pave the way for a nuclear reactor in Callaway County.
His bill is one of two vehicles that would allow Ameren and a consortium of utility companies to pass on the costs of a site permit onto rate payers. The other bill - sponsored by Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau - would establish a funding stream for the Office of Public Counsel.
I caught up with Kehoe after the committee hearing ended and asked him about the prospects for his legislation, as well as whether this bill was forestalling a large fight over how to fund another nuclear reactor in Callaway County.
A Missouri Senate committee considered two bills yesterday that could pave the way for a nuclear power plant in Callaway County.
As mentioned in the previous post, the sticking point between Sen. Jason Crowell’s [right] bill and Sen. Mike Kehoe’s legislation is whether to provide a ratepayer-fueled funding stream for the Office of Public Counsel. That’s the entity that represents consumers and the public in front of Missouri Public Service Commission.
Here’s more from my article in the St. Louis Beacon:
Consumer groups, big corporations and Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, endorsed Crowell’s bill. But that measure received a chilly reception from utility company representatives; they support legislation by Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, which does not include a funding for the public counsel.
Crowell said earlier this month that keeping that agency well-funded could be beneficial for consumers. He repeated that message after presiding over a six-and-half hour hearing over the issue.
“Most of the people who were for [Kehoe’s bill] don’t pay Ameren rates,” Crowell said. “Most of the people with concerns over the bill pay Ameren rates. That’s what it boils down to.”
Representatives from environmental groups rejected both bills, saying that it would give Ameren a “foot in the door” to come back and have ratepayers fund the cost of a nuclear plant.