NP Spotlight: Volume 10

NP Spotlight is a regular (weekly-ish) feature providing updates on local and statewide legislation and governance, links to significant information, and general news about Northland Progress.

MO Senate to vote on “tax credit scholarship” (AKA private school voucher) bill this week

As reported in last week’s Spotlight, despite the inability to fully fund public schools, the Missouri Senate has inexplicably perfected a bill that would provide tax credits of $25 million for private school funding. SB 313 would allow the funneling of funds from public education to private and for-profit schools with little to no financial or education oversight of the institutions that will receive the funds.

Because of turmoil in the Senate last week (more on that below), SB 313 did not make its way through the Fiscal Oversight Committee, which has to approve it before a final vote on the Senate floor. The Fiscal Oversight Committee is expected to convene and vote on the bill on Monday (April 24) at 3:00 p.m. Assuming SB 313 is approved by Fiscal Oversight, it will likely proceed to a final vote on the Senate floor that same day. If passed through the Senate, the bill will go to the House for further consideration.

Protect your public schools’ funding by contacting your legislators and urging them to vote NO on SB 313.

MO PTA Action Alert: SB 313

 

Watchdog group seeks investigation of Senate president Ron Richard for “pay-to-play”

After months of smoke swirling around Missouri Senate president Ron Richard, the Republican from Joplin’s troubles only appear to be getting worse. Last Wednesday, the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit Campaign for Accountability filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri asking for an investigation into whether Richard violated federal law by accepting a $100,000 contribution from Joplin donor Richard Humphreys just days after filing legislation that would gut Missouri’s consumer protection law, under which Humphreys’ company (TAMKO Products) is facing a class action suit.

 

Sen. Richard’s motivations for filing the legislation have been questioned by Northland legislators on both sides of the aisle. Rep. Mark Ellebracht (D-Liberty) sent Richard a scathing letter demanding answers about the origins of the legislation and Richard’s dealings with Humphreys related to the same – Sen. Richard’s response to the inquest was, um, colorful.
Northland Senator Ryan Silvey (R-Gladstone) has also suggested that Richard’s actions warrant the attention of law enforcement. Appearing on KCUR’s Statehouse Blend, Silvey said “I’m not willing to go so far as to say that Sen. Richard violated the law, but I’m also not a law enforcement agency.”
When asked for comment, the U.S. Attorney’s office has stated that they do not confirm, deny or comment on pending investigations.

Greitens nonprofit attacks Sen. Rob Schaaf, posts his cell phone number online for holding up agenda

Senator Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) has been a vocal critic of Governor Eric Greitens, highlighting the freshman governor’s potential conflicts of interest and failure to follow through on a campaign promise for ethics reform. Recently Sen. Schaaf has also railroaded against an expansion of Medicaid managed care that the senator believes is unconstitutional. The last week saw much drama in the Missouri Legislature; passing a budget has proven to be elusive despite Republican supermajorities in both chambers. At the center of it all is Sen. Schaaf, who held the floor for much of last week in an effort to stall progress on the managed care expansion bill and apparently seek retribution for House Republicans voting down a bill the senator supported.

The culmination of tensions among Missouri Republicans last week was a digital ad ran by Governor Greitens’ nonprofit organization, A New Missouri, Inc. The digital ad claims includes Sen. Schaaf’s cell phone number and encourages the reader to call the senator and tell him to “stop siding with liberals,” though it is not clear from either the ad or recent history what positions the senator has in common with the left.

Needless to say, it will be interesting to watch what happens in the Missouri Senate in the next few weeks.

KC Star: Missouri Gov. Greitens’ nonprofit attacks St. Joseph senator, a fellow Republican

MO Times: Greitens nonprofit attacks Schaaf, posts senator’s personal phone number online

US News/AP: Gov. Greitens’ Nonprofit Attacks Fellow Republican Lawmaker

MO Times: Schaaf raises stakes in managed care fight

StL Post-Dispatch: Disputes over budget roil Missouri Senate

Citing lack of transparency, Auditor Galloway subpoenas income tax data from Greitens administration

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway issued a subpoena last Wednesday seeking information about Governor Eric Greitens’ administration’s management of state income tax refunds. Auditor Galloway’s office first requested the data six weeks ago as part of an audit to make sure income tax refunds were being paid within 45 days of filing, as required by state law.

Auditor Galloway’s office held meetings with several members of the Governor’s staff attempting to resolve the issue, but to no avail. “There is a lack of transparency that has fallen over state government at the direction of the governor,” Galloway said Wednesday. “This isn’t the first wall that we’ve run into, and so we’re finding a trend here.”

In response to the subpoena, the Department of Revenue turned over more than 170 pages of documents the following day.