NP Spotlight: Volume 13

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.

Northland Progress announces action plans, “In for 10” with Jason Kander

Northland Progress has announced plans to combat vote suppression, support ethics reform, and fight for workers’ rights in the coming months. Last Wednesday, a crowd of 150 was on hand for NP’s “MO Sessions, MO Problems” event featuring Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway, who spoke about the need for widespread ethics reform and greater accountability in government spending. The event also featured the “NP Update” – a comedic look at many of the top stories coming out of the Missouri Legislature’s regular session. You can watch it here.

The evening was capped with announcement of three action plans in lead up to the 2018 elections:

  • Clean Missouri Initiative (Ethics & Campaign Finance Reform)

The people of Missouri clearly cannot rely on the current Legislature to enact meaningful ethics reform. Fortunately, the people can take matters into our own hands by putting ethics reform on the ballot in 2018. Northland Progress will work with the Clean Missouri Initiative to allow Missourians to vote the following changes into law:

  1. Strong campaign contribution limits and reforms ($2,500 limit for state senate races, $2,000 for state rep races, dark money reform, no legislative fundraising on state property)
  2. Aggressive ethics reform (no lobbyist gifts more than $5, two year “cooling off” period for legislators to become lobbyists)
  3. More transparency and accountability in the General Assembly (making it operate under same open records laws as other public entities)
  4. Redistricting reforms (minimize influence of partisan politics on drawing of districts, introduce fairness and competitiveness as required criteria)

You can read more specifics about the Clean Missouri Initiative here. We strongly encourage all NP members and allies to join us for a training on signature gathering next Tuesday, June 6th at 7 p.m. at Cinder Block Brewery in North KC. If you’re serious about making a difference, this is a great place to start. RSVP here.

 

  • Citizens Veto of “Right to Work” 

Governor Greitens may have signed the “Right to Work” bill into law, but if we can gather enough signatures to put it on the ballot, Missouri voters can “veto” the law that has led to lower wages and more workplace accidents in other states.

In the lead up to 2018, NP members will be gathering signatures to allow the citizens of Missouri to veto RTW. If you would like to help in this effort, contact Mike Amash (mikea@northlandprogress.org).

 

  • “In for 10” Voting Rights Rally & Concert with Jason Kander

On Saturday, August 26, Northland Progress will host “In for 10,” a voting rights rally and concert, at English Landing Park in Parkville. Mark your calendars for some live music, comedy, food trucks, excellent local beer, and most importantly a healthy dose of democracy in action. A full entertainment and guest speaker roster will be announced in the coming weeks, but Northland Progress is happy to welcome former Missouri Secretary of State and Let America Vote founder Jason Kander as a special guest. We are beyond excited about this event and can’t wait to tell you more…stay tuned.

 

Ethics reform badly needed in Missouri

As the legislative season comes to a close, a deafening chorus can be heard across the state: we badly need campaign finance and ethics reform in Missouri. It seems very unlikely that the current legislature and/or Governor Greitens will deliver meaningful reforms, especially since Governor Greitens recently compared the use of “dark money” to our system of secret ballot voting.

Missouri’s ethics laws are both lax and loosely enforced, and it has led to widespread abuse of a political machine that gives donors and lobbyists far too much influence on public policy. If you need more convincing, take a run through the links below….then click above to RSVP for our Clean MO training.

STL Post-Dispatch: Legislature protects campaign coffers, top donors like David Humphreys

KC Star: Greitens’ Political Rise Coincides with “Dark Money” in Missouri

Columbia Missourian: Candidate spending gets little scrutiny under Missouri ethics laws

 

Threats to public school funding loom as “school choice” proponents invest heavily in Missouri

There were not many bright spots coming out of the 2017 Missouri legislative session, but the successful efforts by public education advocates to avoid the expansion of charter schools and school vouchers, which would allow public funds to be used for private and for-profit schools, were among them. Those of us who value well-funded public schools will likely have little time to savor that victory, as “school choice” figures to be a top priority for Missouri’s GOP leadership when they return to work in 2018, if not before.

Governor Greitens has been vocal about his desire to expand charter schools and implement a voucher system (whether or not it’s called by another name, e.g. “Education Savings Account”). The freshman governor’s commitment to the cause may be explained in part by the $370,000 he received from leading school choice donors such as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, a Trump appointee who openly does not support public education.

School choice measures that will threaten both the funding and quality of Missouri public schools are certain to be a key priority for some in 2018, and Greitens’ office has said of another possible special session being called in 2017, “all options are available.”

KC Star: Greitens campaign received money from DeVos family, top school choice donors

STL Public Radio: A recap of why education reform measures didn’t get through the 2017 Missouri legislature

 

Special session ends with passage of electricity rate incentives for businesses

Governor Greitens called a special session of the Missouri legislature to initiate passage of a bill that would lower electricity rates for high-use businesses such as steel mills and aluminum smelters, supposedly to lure jobs into the state (and specifically Southeast Missouri). The governor’s efforts were rewarded last Friday when the Senate easily passed the House-approved bill that critics worry will lead to higher bills for residential customers, ending the special session.

Many pointed out that without a deal for a steel mill or manufacturing plant in place, this was simply a giveaway to Ameren – a company that gave Greitens $130,000 in campaign contributions last year (not including dark money). Since then, Tony Messenger of the Post-Dispatch has reported that Sumangala Steel out of Chennai, India may also be a beneficiary of the deal, as they are considering opening a facility in Southeast Missouri.

Greitens has indicated he may be willing to call more special sessions during recess to advance his agenda, which can cost Missourians up to $128,000 per week.

US News/AP: Missouri Legislature Passes Electricity Rate Incentives

STL Post-Dispatch (Messenger): Greitens calls out career politicians. Takes one to know one.

Missouri Times: Bootheel jobs bill heads to Governor’s desk after Senate passes HB 1 unchanged

 

Northland KC City Council members to host 2nd District Town Hall on KCI plans

On Tuesday, June 6, Kansas City Councilwoman Teresa Loar and Councilman Dan Fowler will host a Town Hall discussion for constituents of KCMO’s second district. The town hall will be held at Northland Cathedral, 101 NW 99th Street, Kansas City, MO, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. For more information, please call 816-513-6507.