Obama Heeds the Advice of the Mo House

On Tuesday, the Missouri House passed HCR 37, a resolution I sponsored calling on Congress and the President to encourage further utilization of North American energy sources – including completing the Keystone XL pipeline.

On Wednesday, President Obama announced he was expediting the process of approving Keystone XL’s southern leg.

Connection? Why not?

Lessons from Mamtek Make It Into the State Budget

An incredible day that probably won’t be repeated for a long-time, if ever again. First, the House passed a resolution I sponsored. Then I went 3 for 3 on amendments to budget bills today on the House floor. All three amendments involved lessons learned from Mamtek. 

One amendment transferred federal funds to provide DED with funds and an employee charged as the chief due diligence officer in the Department. In the process of our Mamtek investigation, we learned that the Department had the information in its possession that should have put the brakes on the Mamtek deal – and yet that information wasn’t shared with anyone from Moberly – or any third-party professionals for that matter. We also learned that responsibility for due diligence is spread throughout the Department.

The lesson of the tragedy of the commons is that when something is the responsibility of everyone yet owned by none that proper care is not taken of the ‘commons.’ The chief due diligence officer in DED will ‘own’ the due diligence process in the Department. They can focus their energy on ensuring that applicants for tax credits can actually deliver on the promises they’re making to Missouri taxpayers.

The other amendments cut funding for REMI models – the economic models used to justify any and every alleged job creation tax credit or government spending. Its a model based on Keynesian economics and the model’s results can be gamed to support anything. In fact, it was similar economic modeling that was used to argue that the failed stimulus would create millions of jobs. I see no need for the state to spend a dime on an economic modeling program that is based on a flawed premise (that there’s no constraints on government spending) and so easily misused. As I said on the House floor, it was the most conservative cut of just $26k in the history of the Missouri state budget.

I was also very pleased to receive bi-partisan support for both amendments. The due diligence officer within DED (or chief curmudgeon) was actually an idea proposed by Rep. Chris Kelly (D-Columbia).

To learn more about REMI models, go here.

Mo House Endorses American Oil and the Keystone Pipeline

I’m pleased to report the House passed HCR 37 by voice-vote this morning, a resolution I sponsored calling on Congress and the President to support continued oil exploration in the United States and Canada and the Keystone XL Pipeline. I’d rather get my oil from Canadian Mounties and the Bakken Reserve in Montana and the Dakotas than from Middle Eastern despots. American energy exploration is good for national security and both short and long-term job creation. 

Monday’s Plan for Committee on Gov’t Oversight and Accountability

On Monday, the House Committee on Gov’t Oversight and Accountability will hear two bills and vote on three.

House Bill 1859, sponsored by myself and Rep. Chris Kelly from Columbia, creates standards which local governments in Missouri must meet before issuing any “conduit bond,” a securities offering whereby government puts the credit rating and tax dollars of its taxpayers on the line for a non-traditional government purpose to benefit a for-profit business. For example, if a local government decides it will put build a factory for a for-profit business, the local government would have to abide by the rules set forth in HB 1859. The committee will take testimony but will not exec on HB 1859 Monday.

House Bill 1865, sponsored by myself and Rep. Sheila Solon of Blue Springs, is a combination of bills the committee has previously heard that ensure better transparency in local government, communication between state and local governments, and due diligence by the Department of Economic Development. The committee will take testimony and will exec on HB 1865 Monday.

The committee will also exec on HB 1359, sponsored by Rep. Jason Smith, and HB 1383, sponsored by Rep. Stan Cox.

The Mamtek Report

For the past four months, the House Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability has been investigating the Mamtek situation in Moberly. A few weeks ago we issued a final report. Here’s the link.

State Employees Get Full Pay Raise in House Budget

Great news – reported in the NewsTribune – the House budget includes a full two-percent cost-of-living pay raise for Missouri state employees making less than $70,000 per year. The Governor’s budget previously only provided the cost-of-living adjustment for half they year (i.e. a one-percent pay raise).

Unfortunately, this won’t get Missouri workers out of the basement (ranking 50 out of 50), but it is a step in the right direction.

Increasing Accountability for Gov’t Spending

Today on the House floor we debated Rep. Jason Smith’s bill to require Missouri counties and (thanks to an amendment) cities to report their spending on the Missouri Accountability Portal. I thought it’d be a 163-0 vote. Turns out I was wrong. 25 Democrats voted against an amendment requiring the City of St. Louis to join the 21st century in reporting its spending in an easily accessible online database.

True Heroes: Mid-Missourians Receive Legion of Honor

I was honored to witness three Mid-Missourians receiving the Legion of Honor: Lloyd Cain, Frank Crooks and Francis “Bud” Jones. All three served nobly in World War II – and their bravery and public service makes anything we do in the state capitol pale in comparison. Also, I learned that Bud Jones not only worked with my grandmother at the Highway Patrol, but also was in the same class as her at Fatima High School many years ago.

Comments on the Mamtek Hearings

Video from Missouri News Horizon.

Requesting Fair Gov’t from SoS Robin Carnahan

I believe it is vitally important that the people of Missouri have confidence that their elected officials make decisions based on the merits rather than their own financial interests or the financial interests of close family members.

Recently, an organization named ‘Renew Missouri’ submitted a ballot initiative to Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan which would create a new renewable energy mandate in our state. Their petition would require a transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars from Missouri’s electric ratepayers to renewable energy suppliers in our state. Secretary Carnahan’s brother Tom holds perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars of investments in renewable energy. (His company, the Wind Capital Group, received a reported $107 million in federal stimulus funds.)

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of renewable energy mandates, all Missourians should agree that the initiative petition process should be free from undue influence as a result of huge personal or family investments in an industry with such a large stake in the outcome of an initiative petition. As such, I’ve requested Secretary Carnahan to recuse herself and her office from its traditional role in initiative petition proceedings – and to allow the Attorney General to take over her office’s role.

It is my sincere hope that Secretary Carnahan will do the right thing. Regardless of her decision, however, the House Interim Committee on Gov’t Oversight will look into this issue in January.

My letter is linked here: Request for SOS Carnahan to Recuse from Renewable Energy Petition Process