Full speed ahead

The non-progress report on the legislature’s special session we issued at mid-week needs a quick update because it appears progress has been made. To hear legislative leaders talk, you’d think two busy days will polish off all problems and lawmakers can go back to their summer pursuits.

So here’s a progress report at the end of the week.

The House and Senate leaders seem to agree the pension bill and the Ford bill can be passed. Roadblocks either have been removed or can be driven around or over. They’ll come back on Tuesday and could be gone on Wednesday afternoon.

Senator Jason Crowell has dropped his demand that the House approve a new investment board to oversee two state government pension plans. He didn’t do that until Governor Nixon decided after two weeks that the special investment board was not really part of his call for the special session. Either he just started saying it or Crowell just got the message. Later interviews will figure that out. Regardless, Crowell has pulled back on his special board idea and that lets the House relax enough to get the pension bill moving.

With indications that the House will move the pension bill, the Senate now can talk to Senator Chuck Purgason and tell him the means to finance the Ford tax incentive bill has been secured and he can retract his threat to kill the Ford bill because it doesn’t give small businesses the same tax incentives it’s giving Ford. Senate Leader Charlie Shields says the pension reforms could save the state $600 million in the next ten years, far more than the amount of income the state will forego in withholding taxes from Ford. He and others will have to address any demands Purgason might make that the $600 million be used for tax incentives for small business.

Shields and Senate Floor leader Kevin Engler are planning a looooooong night Tuesday night because Purgason isn’t the only Senator who objects to the Ford bill. They and we hope opponents don’t make it an all-nighter. All we ask is that if they do decide to do so they at least be interesting. It’s been a long time since we’ve had an entertaining filibuster—back to the days when Sam Graves talked about his three-legged dog and Danny Staples talked about chicken-eating snakes and hauling Volkswagens to Omaha.

The goal is to get the bills passed by Wednesday afternoon. Governor Nixon told us the other day, “Anything that goes beyond that continues to put at risk, in a far greater way, these jobs.”

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