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.
David Lieb of the Associated Press wrote his Monday analysis on how a proposed ballot item raising tobacco taxes is really aimed at smaller firms.
From the article:
A proposed Missouri ballot measure poses the question: Should a $1 per pack tax be imposed on cigarettes made “by certain tobacco product manufacturers?”
Left unsaid is that the tax would not apply to the biggest tobacco companies, which sell the majority of cigarettes. What’s meant by “certain” tobacco makers is primarily the smaller companies, which sell cigarettes at the cheapest prices.
Although it’s dubbed the “Healthy Missouri Initiative Petition,” the measure appears to come not from health care groups but from large tobacco companies, which have been losing market share to upstart companies that were not part of the 1998 settlement among big tobacco firms and attorneys general in 46 states.
Associated Press reporter David Lieb writes this week on the enormous cost this spring’s disasters will have on Missouri.
Here’s a snippet from Lieb’s AP Monday analysis:
Thirty days of destruction in Missouri. Billions of dollars of damage. And it may not be done, as communities along the Missouri River from St. Joseph to St. Louis brace for a new round of flooding.
The economic aftershocks of Missouri’s spring of disasters may be felt for years, even by many who weren’t personally affected by the storms. Insurance premiums are likely to increase for home and vehicle owners. Restaurants and retail shops are likely to see lower sales in southeast Missouri. Utility rates are likely to rise in the southwestern part of the state. And Missouri’s budget — already out of balance — now is tens of millions of dollars deeper in the hole, which could lead to more cuts to government services and schools.
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.
This week’s AP Monday analysis revolves around the potential demise of the Missouri Rx Plan. The program provides aide to low-income seniors to pay for prescription drugs.
From the AP’s David Lieb:
The Missouri Rx Plan, which helps pay the medicine costs of 212,000 seniors and disabled residents, is due to expire Aug. 28 unless lawmakers renew it. So far, they have not done so. And a Senate budget plan is banking on its demise, redirecting millions of dollars that normally would fund the prescription program to other government purposes.
Gov. Jay Nixon’s administration is urging lawmakers to not let the program lapse.
“For the health and safety of our senior citizens and Missourians with disabilities, it is imperative that this program is reauthorized,” said Ron Levy, director of the Department of Social Services, which oversees Missouri Rx.
Missouri lawmakers have until May 6 to pass a budget. They have until May 13 to pass a bill reauthorizing the program’s existence.
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 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.
My shocking run in the world competitive online polling is over.
After making it the Final Four of the Tiger Blood Tournament as a 13-seed, I lost to Democratic spokesman extraordinaire Jack Cardetti by a mere 9 votes. It’s a stunning loss that I will never get over.
In any case, I would like to thank everyone who voted for me over these past couple of days. Even though the tournament became overrun with robo-voting, it was an all-in-good fun competition. It was especially enjoyable to go head-to-head with Post-Dispatch Editorial Writer Tony Messenger, who I managed to beat even though he had several surrogates working on his behalf. If anything, it was a good chance to sharpen my video editing skills.
If you haven’t already, I hope you take a minute to get acquainted with the journalists who cover state government, such as AP reporter David Lieb, News-Tribune reporter Bob Watson, Messenger and News-Leader reporter Roseann Moring. And, of course, that plea extends to all the journalists inside and outside the competition.
Clearly my one shinning moment has passed. But thanks to all for a very enjoyable few days.
March Madness this year is kind of meh, mainly because Northwestern didn’t make it for the bajillionth year in a row and Mizzou is kind of terrible. So Fired Up! Missouri decided to fill in the void, so to speak, with a 64-person bracket of Missouri politicos.
Somehow, I managed to make the “Press Gallery” bracket as a 13-seed. My “opponent” is AP Reporter David Lieb, one of the best political reporters in Missouri. We’ll have to see what happens, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Lieb ran away with the whole tournament.
The other brackets in the online poll-dominated contest feature elected officials, consultants and political activists.
This whole process vaguely reminds me a time when I ran a computer simulation of the 2008 election featuring journalists on one side and political bloggers on the other. Then-KY3 reporter Dave Catanese ended up beating political consultant Jeff Roe in one of the closest elections in history. Roe, by the way, only got the nomination over the Turner Report’s Randy Turner because of some strange maneuvering at the convention.
Best of luck to all involved. You can vote in the press skirmishes here.
Courtesy of Missouri News Horizon, House Speaker Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, talks about whether it’s appropriate for the Missouri Legislature to alter voter-approved ballot items.
The AP’s David Lieb wrote this week about the Missouri General Assembly’s push to alter initiative petitions. And I wrote for the St. Louis Beacon on Monday about lawmakers’ efforts to change a proposition enacting dog breeding regulations.
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.