Capitol Reports, August 27, 2012

In Legislative News, Missouri Press News On
- Updated

MPANewsBook: Statehouse News for MPA Members
Go to http://www.mdn.org/mpanews for the latest version.

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Headline:  A note from Jordan. [Entered: 08/27/2012]
Friends,

We are going to be trying something new for MPANews for the fall session. In response to some of the survey feedback we are going to be providing an updated Monday MPANews in addition to our Friday mailing.

The bulk of the news will essentially be the same, but we will be updating stories from the previous week and providing some advance coverage of events for the upcoming week.

This week, the story about Congressman Todd Akin has been updated to include his remarks from a Friday afternoon press conference. We have also added a short advance article on the health care exchange ballot language lawsuit and a brief of bills that will become law Tuesday.

Please feel free to let us know what you think about the new Monday mailing or if you feel like we are spamming you.

Phill Brooks says he’s willing to incorporate a button in the Web version of MPANews that would generate a plain-text version, just like what Kent emails out to you.

As always if you have any suggestions feel free to call our office (573-751-2888) or my cell (314-406-9528).

Thanks,

Jordan Shapiro

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Headline:  Expanded No-Call list, among many bills set to become law on Tuesday. [Entered: 08/27/2012]

By Brendan Cullerto and By Jordan Shapiro

A bill expanding Missouri’s No-Call List to cell phones and fax machines will become law on Tuesday, Aug. 28.

The measure allows Missouri cell phone users to register their phones on the Attorney General’s website to prevent receiving calls from telemarketers via phone call or text message.

Well before the law was to take effect, the Attorney General’s office began accepting applications for registering cell phones on the new call list.  The office claims that 1.8 million cell phone users have already registered their phones. The site to register is http://www.ago.mo.gov.

Also slated to become law on Tuesday, Aug. 28, is a bill requiring MoDOT to develop a statewide minimum time interval for yellow lights. Supporters argue the measure would prevent municipalities from creating shorter yellow lights in an effort to issue more red light camera tickets.

Bills expanding charter schools to failing school districts, and a sales tax increase (upon voter approval) for St. Louis to redevelop the area around the Gateway Arch will also become law.

* Get the No-Call List bill, HB 1549 [ http://www.mdn.org/cgi-bin/bills/billhttp.exe?FORM=HB&NUM49&YEAR 12 ]
* Go to the Attorney General’s web site. [ http://www.ago.mo.gov/ ]
* Get the yellow light bill, SB 611 [ http://www.mdn.org/cgi-bin/bills/billhttp.exe?FORM=SB&NUMa1&YEAR 12 ]
* Get the charter school bill, SB 576 [ http://www.mdn.org/cgi-bin/bills/billhttp.exe?FORM=SB&NUMW6&YEAR 12 ]
* Get the Gateway Arch bill, HB 1504 [ http://www.mdn.org/cgi-bin/bills/billhttp.exe?FORM=HB&NUM04&YEAR 12 ]

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Headline:  Cole County Court to consider health care exchange ballot language Tuesday. [Entered: 08/27/2012]

By Jordan Shapiro

Cole County Circuit Court Judge Dan Green will hear arguments Tuesday, Aug. 28, on whether ballot language written by Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit filed by Republican Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder says language written by Carnahan is misleading. If passed by voters in November, the ballot measure would block the governor from creating a health care exchange.

On Aug. 21 the court told election officials to delay printing ballots until the dispute over the wording is resolved.

* Get the ballot language [http://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/2012ballot/]
* Get the proposal, SB 464 [http://www.mdn.org/cgi-bin/bills/billhttp.exe?FORM=SB&NUMF4&YEAR 12]

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Headline:  Missouri Republican U.S. Senate candidate vows to stay in race after “legitimate rape” comment. [Entered: 08/20/2012]

By Jordan Shapiro

U.S. Rep. Todd Akin resisted calls from his fellow Republicans to step aside in the race to unseat Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill after controversial comments on rape and abortion.

Several top Republicans including Sen. Roy Blunt and former Sens. Kit Bond, John Ashcroft, Jim Talent and John Danforth called on Akin to withdraw from the race after saying a women’s body can prevent pregnancy in a “legitimate rape” during a television interview with KTVI in St. Louis.

But Akin has vowed to stay in the race and resist the calls to drop out from what he dubbed the “liberal elite” and “party bosses.” On Friday afternoon, Aug. 24, Akin held a press conference in St. Louis to again state that he intends to remain in the contest.

“Apparently, there are some people who are having trouble understanding our message … we’re going to be here to win,” Akin said on Friday.

Akin had until Aug. 21 to withdraw from the race without penalty. He still can exit the race by Sept. 25, but it would require a court order and Akin would have to pay to reprint the ballots.

Should Akin withdraw from the race the Republican state committee would have two weeks to nominate a replacement to challenge McCaskill.

While national Republicans ranging from presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called on Akin to leave the race, his opponent encouraged him to stay.

McCaskill almost immediately criticized Akin’s comments, but stopped short of calling him to leave the U.S. Senate contest.

* Get the print story. [ http://www.mdn.org/2012/STORIES/AKIN.HTM ]

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Headline:  The St. Louis Cardinals are turning to Missourians’ pocketbooks to build Ballpark Village [Entered: 08/24/2012]

By Stacey Kafka

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and St. Louis Cardinals President Bill DeWitt are asking the state for $17 million in tax credits to develop the area around Busch Stadium.

The Missouri Development Finance Board met Aug. 21 to hear DeWitt’s proposal for the area around Busch Stadium. He said the tax credits would be used to prepare the site for later development.

“You’ve gotta clean up the site all around before you do anything. What we’re planning in this phase to get all that utility street work ready for future development, which we think will happen much more quickly because of what we’re doing,” DeWitt said.

As in the past, tax credits are already drawing resistance from lawmakers. Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, said the plan was not a good investment for Missouri taxpayers.

“Missouri is the nationwide leader in job loss, while we’re spending ever more dollars in what’s nothing more than redistribution of wealth back to campaign contributors,” he said.

In 2013, Missouri is projected to redeem $685 million in tax credits. The Missouri Development Finance Board will meet again on Sept. 18 to decide the fate of the Ballpark Village tax credits.

* Get the radio story[ http://www.mdn.org/2012/STORIES/CARDS.HTM ]

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Headline:  Committee of former judges opposes Amendment 3. [Entered: 08/23/2012]

By Eric Stoyanov

A group of former state Supreme Court judges spoke out Aug. 23 against a ballot measure that would change the selection process for Missouri’s top judges.

The amendment, approved by state lawmakers during the last legislative session, would give the governor the power to appoint a majority of the commission members tasked with selecting nominees for non-partisan judgeships.

Retired Supreme Court Justice William Ray Price said supporters of the amendment are attempting to “concentrate power” in the executive branch, in order to buy judicial appointments.

“What they really are trying to do is concentrate power in one political office that they can affect by big money contributions. They aught to be honest and say that’s what’s going on. They want to be able to buy judicial appointments like they try and buy everything else in Jefferson City,” he said.

Sen. Jim Lembke, R-Saint Louis County, who sponsored the amendment, said it will give the executive branch the power to properly check the judicial branch.
“This idea that the current system is not political is a fallacy. It is political, except it’s just controlled by a very small group of Missourians,” Lembke said.

* Get the text story [http://www.mdn.org/2012/STORIES/AMEND3.HTM].
* Get the radio story [http://www.mdn.org/2012/STORIES/JUDGES.HTM].
* Get the proposed amendment, SJR 51 [http://www.mdn.org/cgi-bin/bills/billhttp.exe?FORM=SJR&NUMQ&YEAR 12].

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Headline:  Divided Federal Appeals Court blocks air pollution regulations. [Entered: 08/22/2012]

By Andrew Weil

By a vote of 2 to 1, a US Federal Appeals court struck down an Environmental Protection Agency ruling that sought to cut back on pollution carried by wind across state lines.

The EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule would have affected more than two dozen states, including Missouri.

The court’s majority decision, published on Aug. 21, found the EPA exceeded its statutory authority.

“It is not our job to set environmental policy. Our limited but important role is to independently ensure that the agency stays within the boundaries Congress has set. EPA did not do so here,” wrote Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

The National Resources Defense Council called on the EPA to immediately appeal the decision, saying in a statement that “it will take years for EPA to adopt replacement health safeguards that all three judges recognize to be necessary and required by law.”

In response to the overturned regulations, Saint Louis-based Ameren Missouri released a statement saying the utility company is in position to continue to comply with regulations and are fully committed to reducing emissions.

* Get the court decision [http://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/19346B280C78405C85257A61004DC0E5/$file/11-1302-1390314.pdf].

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Headline:  Capitol Perspectives – Campaign 2012: Advertising or Policy [Entered: 08/24/2012]

By Phill Brooks

I have a confession as I resume Capitol Perspectives this fall for you: I am not looking forward to the fall campaign season.

For someone who has spent almost his entire adult life covering politics and government, you’d think I’d be looking forward to what promises to be a hot political season.

But, instead, I’m dreading what I fear will be a journalistic nightmare trying to get access to candidates and meaningful responses about the major issues facing our state.

After the 2010 campaigns, one colleague jokingly vowed to refuse to cover the 2012 campaigns if the candidates continued to make access so difficult for reporters. It was just a joke, but it’s an indication of the growing frustration in covering political campaigns.

Political campaigns have changed dramatically since I began as a rookie reporter.

Back then, most candidates were easily accessible to reporters. They held regular and lengthy news conferences in the statehouse. They issued detailed policy papers that reflected extensive thought and staff research. They seemed truly eager to talk with reporters about their views.

That’s not the pattern today. Access to many candidates is restricted. News conferences on complicated policy issues have been replaced by made-for-television media events in the major markets. Little of substance about public policy may be discussed, but the pictures sure look pretty.

Years ago, I sensed that the driving motivation for many candidates was to change public policy. Positions were taken on difficult issues in order to claim a voter mandate.

The best example was Mel Carnahan’s campaign for governor in 1992. He made a tax increase for education a key issue in his campaign. As a result of his election, he entered office with a voter mandate that helped get through one of the biggest tax increases in the state’s history.

Today, many candidates seem to avoid taking politically risky positions on a major policy issue in order to win a mandate. Candidates seem more driven by a desire to win an office, rather than in changing policy.

Money, of course, is another factor in the change in the political landscape. There’s so much cash available for political campaigns that candidates no longer need to rely on what strategists call “free media.” They can buy all the broadcast time and newspaper advertising they need to communicate without the risk of being forced off message by pesky reporters.

Trackers have had a significant impact. A tracker is a campaign staffer who follows the opposition candidate almost everywhere, shooting video in hopes of catching the candidate making an off-hand, stupid comment. To frustrate trackers, some candidates refuse to release their schedules until the last moment, preventing long-term campaign-coverage plans by reporters.

Richard Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign has been cited as the watershed in the change in modern campaign practices. In his book “The Selling of the President,” Joe McGinniss wrote about the Nixon campaign’s adoption of advertising tactics to sell the candidate. At the time, it was a new approach. Today, unfortunately, it’s standard practice for many candidates.

Todd Akin’s experience may cause candidates to be even less accessible and candid with reporters. A former journalism friend of mine told me he’s concerned the Akin episode will have a chilling effect.

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[Phill Brooks has been a Missouri statehouse reporter since 1970, making him dean of the statehouse press corps. He is the statehouse correspondent for KMOX Radio, director of MDN and a faculty member of the Missouri School of Journalism. He has covered every governor since the late Warren Hearnes.
Past columns are available at http://www.mdn.org/mpacol.]

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