November 21, 2014

Nixon, legislators in familiar postures (AUDIO)

The next round of state law-making doesn’t start for about two months. But relations between the Governor and the legislature are already rocky.

Republicans regularly claim Governor Nixon is not engaged in the lawmaking process, that he vetoes bills that he might have signed if he had been more interactive with the legislature.   The Democratic Governor points to several bipartisan successes during his first six legislative sessions. “Whether strengthening our mental health industry or  revitalizing our automotive industry or building a new Fulton, we’ve worked across the aisle to get things done,” Nixon says.

But Senate leader Tom Dempsey says the facts prove otherwise, and he has personal experience., noting, “I’ve sponsored legislation for the governor based on his State of the State where he has backed off his support during the process.”

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(Senators Schmitt, Kehoe, Wasson, Dempsey, Munzlinger, Richard)

He says Nixon and his Department of Public Safety didn’t communicate with the sponsor of the Criminal Code revision this year, which was handled by Democratic Senator Jolie Justus. Instead, says Dempsey,  the Nixon administration sent messages to outside organizations to influence policies set in the new criminal laws.

Senator Mike Kehoe of Kansas City is critical of Nixon for soliciting his support for a state office project this year and asking him to lead the legislative effort to approve the plan.  The legislature approved the bill, but Kehoe complains Nixon then vetoed the bill “without a phone call to anybody.”

Nixon says he looks forward to working with the legislature.

AUDIO: Nixon, Dempsey, Kehoe 2:22

 

 

With no ’16 run, MO Speaker uses campaign chest for other GOPers

When Tim Jones announced he would not run for a statewide office in the 2016 campaign cycle, his campaign committee had more than $993-thousand dollars. Jones told Missourinet he won’t be letting that campaign money lie dormant.

Outgoing House Speaker Tim Jones (left) stands among the 118-member House Republican supermajority he says his donations helped elect, as incoming House Speaker John Diehl addresses the media.  (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Outgoing House Speaker Tim Jones (left) stands among the 118-member House Republican supermajority he says his donations helped elect, as incoming House Speaker John Diehl addresses the media. (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

“When my plans started solidifying in October and I realized that I might not need my campaign funds for the immediate future for myself, I began giving more money away again,” Jones said. “I believe I contributed more than 20-, 25-thousand dollars for this election cycle and largely was successful with the candidates I supported.”

The Missouri Ethics Commission shows Missourians for Tim Jones on October 22 contributed $10,500 to Representative Rick Stream’s campaign for St. Louis County Executive, which Stream narrowly lost, and on November 1, donated $7,500 to the House Republican Campaign Committee.

“I am absolutely going to continue doing what I’ve already done the last eight years with the funds that I’ve worked so hard to raise for conservative causes and conservative candidates,” said Jones. “I’m going to continue to support people.”

He might not donate it all, though.

“I will likely have some reserve left for I will keep for a potential run in the future, although I have no plans to run at this time in 2018 or beyond, but you never know how time and the passage of years changes perspective on things,” said Jones.

Jones could not seek another term in the House due to term limits.

MO Representatives vote along party lines on Keystone XL

The Keystone XL Pipeline under construction (courtesy; Wikimedia commons)

The Keystone XL Pipeline under construction (courtesy; Wikimedia commons)

The U.S. House has voted to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, clearing the way for the Senate to vote on the bill next week.

Missouri’s Congressional delegation voted along party lines with Republicans Sam Graves, William Long, Jason Smith, Ann Wagner, Vicky Hartzler and Blaine Luetkemeyer all supporting the legislation and Democrats Lacy Clay and Emanuel Cleaver opposing it.

The legislation has gained momentum in large part because Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu is championing it, in an effort to help her in a runoff election against Republican Representative Bill Cassidy, the sponsor of the bill approved today by the House.

Senate backers say they have the 60 votes needed to pass it.

In a statement Congressman Graves wrote he is “proud to have once again voted in favor of building the Keystone XL Pipeline,” which he says will, “create good-paying American jobs and lower energy prices.”

Congresswoman Hartzler writes the project would not only, “decrease our dependence on foreign oil, it would also help drive down the cost of gas, allowing American families to save more of their hard-earned dollars.”

The State Department is six years into a review of the project. President Barack Obama tells reporters his position hasn’t changed – that the pipeline is facing a challenge from landowners in Nebraska and he doesn’t think that should be bypassed.

Congressman Luetkemeyer writes, “After 2,247 days since backers of the Keystone XL pipeline first submitted an application to the U.S. State Department to build this project, the House sent yet another strong signal to President Obama to stop stalling and approve this measure.”

Missouri lawmaker stands by post-election party switch

The state representative who switched parties after last week’s election expects to be more effective the next two years.

Representative Linda Black (at right of center, in glasses) stands with the Republican caucus shortly after announcing she was switching from the Democrat to the Republican party.  (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Linda Black (at right of center, in glasses) stands with the Republican House caucus shortly after announcing she was switching from the Democrat to the Republican party. (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Linda Black has been elected to her final term as a state representative from Desloge, having won all four elections as a Democrat. A week ago this morning she announced she is now a Republican. She became the 118th member of the dominant House Republican caucus.

Black says she doesn’t regret her move, and says she’s received a lot of support.

“Like Ronald Reagan said years ago, he didn’t leave the party, the party left him,” says Black. “I think a lot of people are feeling that way after six years of President Obama. They don’t identify with his agenda and our country is in disarray.”

She says she switched parties because her beliefs on issues like abortion and gun control don’t mesh with those of the Democratic party, but she also thinks she can have more impact now.

“I just look forward to the next two years now and I think that I’ll be much more effective as a representative, which will benefit my district,” says Black.

Black says she has been supported by constituents in her decision to change parties.

“I can’t tell you the overwhelming amount of people that tell me they wish I wasn’t a Democrat because my voting record aligns with their beliefs but they’ve never voted for a Democrat,” says Black.

Her decision has earned sharp criticism from her former floor leader in the House, however.

The House Minority Leader says Black lied to voters

House Minority Leader Jake Hummel (D-St. Louis City) offered several amendments Tuesday attempting to plug Medicaid expansion back into the House's FY 2014 budget proposal.

House Minority Leader Jake Hummel (D-St. Louis City)

Representative Jacob Hummel (D-St. Louis) says he didn’t know about her switch until he saw it reported on social media.

“Never got a phone call from her, never got the courtesy of being told that to my face, which was a little upsetting,” says Hummel.

He accuses her of lying to the voters in St. Francois County.

“She lied to them with a straight face, went to the polls knowing she was going to switch. If I were them I’d be very upset,” says Hummel. “If she wanted to run as a Republican she could have done it back then or at least let them know that she was going to.”

Black says she hadn’t made the decision to change parties before the election.

“I wish maybe this had happened before filing or sometime during the summer or however that would have happened, but the timing that happened seemed to be where it naturally fell,” says Black. She says she woke up the morning after the election, “looked at what happened nationally and sat and thought about, ‘Where am I going to be in that Democrat minority?’ I know where that would have been; the minority of the minority.”

Black says Hummel remains a good friend of hers, but in response to his criticism, she notes that her stance on the issues that led to her switch hasn’t changed.

“Jake and I, we part ways on social, moral convictions. He came in as a pro-life Democrat and now is voting pro-choice. I’ve remained consistent,” says Black.

Black says she will pursue a bill to provide more information to a woman considering an abortion about her pregnancy, and will support the “sanctity of marriage” and gun rights.

She says she doesn’t know yet what her political future will be beyond the end of her time in the House in two years.

 

Gov. Nixon, law enforcement plan for grand jury decision in Ferguson

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon says law enforcement in Ferguson, St. Louis County, St. Louis City, other area municipalities and the State Highway Patrol will work together when a grand jury releases its decision in the Michael Brown shooting investigation.

Students and demonstrators protest on the Saint Louis University campus late Sunday night and early Monday morning. (photos from Twitter)

Students and demonstrators protest on the Saint Louis University campus in October. (photos from Twitter)

“Violence will not be tolerated,” the Governor writes in a statement released Tuesday.

The National Guard will also be part of the contingency planning process, “when we determine it is necessary to support local law enforcement,” says Nixon.

“We must and will be prepared,” he says.

A grand jury decision whether to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the August 9 shooting death of an unarmed teenager Michael Brown expected sometime during the last half of November.

Nixon says he and law enforcement leaders are not anticipating that violence will erupt when the grand jury decision is released, but says agencies have been preparing to respond if violence does arise.  .

Nixon would not speak to specifics of planned operations, yet wants residents throughout the St. Louis region to know that their safety is not in peril.

“There’s a lot of voices for peace out there,” says Nixon, “There are a lot of folks involved in the faith community, in the school community, in the non-profit community; good people of good will.  The hundreds and hundreds that applied to be on the commission, the school teachers, the administrators, the churches doing a whole lot to try to keep that from happening.”

Nixon reiterated that no date has been set for the release of the grand jury’s decision.  St. Louis Prosecutor Bob McCulloch has said that information will be released in mid-to-late November.

Nixon says in the involved agencies, more than 1,000 law enforcement officers have received a total of more than 5,000 hours of additional training, planning efforts have included coordination with fire and EMS services, and the state Department of Public Safety has distributed additional communications equipment to ensure seamless communication between agencies.