by Scott Faughn
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Letters between Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, the leader moderate faction of moderate senators looking to pass Senate Bill 207 and Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff, the leader of the conservative faction opposed to the ISRS legislation, were exchanged yesterday after the Senate adjourned for Spring Break, showing both leaders looking to lower the decibel level of the issue.
Kehoe opened the exchange through a letter delivered to Libla’s office Thursday afternoon with Libla’s response going out a few hours later. Both emails were copied to the entire body and were provided to The Missouri Times by a third senator.
In his letter, Kehoe referenced a meeting he had with Libla Monday.
SB207 was placed on the calendar and was expected to be brought up Monday evening, but was never brought up and the senate went onto pass prevailing wage and paycheck protection laws.
Many conservative groups and senators were anticipating a filibuster Monday night had the bill been taken up, and some questioned whether the moderate Republican and union Democrat coalition would have enough support to break it.
Kehoe expressed a willingness to be open to “tweaks and tunes” that could make the legislation more palatable, stating that he asked the Public Service Commission for an opinion about some of the finer points of the legislation. Previous PSC chairman Kevin Gunn advocated for the bill before his resignation, however, it’s unclear as to whether he was supporting the bill in his official capacity or not.
Kehoe included some bullet points on some changes to the legislation since the bill was sent out of committee, including:
-Lowering the ISRS cap from 10-percent to eight-percent annually
-Forcing the utility to reimburse ISRS costs disallowed over a six-month period
-Capping the business tracker at two-percent
-Enacting a 20-year sunset.
Libla’s letter informed Kehoe that he would be out of town during the break and wouldn’t be in Jefferson City.
Additionally, Libla’s letter also references their Monday afternoon meeting, offering Kehoe his recollection that they would begin working on the bill together the week after break, rather than debating the bill on the floor.
Libla mentioned an agreement he and Kehoe made Monday to end all television commercials and “robo calls” with affiliated groups on either side of the issue while discussions were ongoing. He added that while all advertisements in-opposition to SB207 have ended he continues to see commercials airing in-support of the bill.
The cordial, but resolute, exchange punctuated a week during which many Capitol observers saw and heard a lot of changing tunes. One notable surprise took place Thursday when traditionally conservative Libla joined Senate moderates and the entire Democratic caucus, voting in favor of the largest tax increase in state history sponsored by Kehoe dedicated for undisclosed highway projects.
Below is the ad that was still running in the Jefferson City area as of Friday morning: