Speaker Richardson – This session may ultimately be remembered for voter ID and the year that Todd Richardson took his place as the most powerful leader amongst state Republicans. His leadership team led by Floor Leader Mike Cierpiot struck the perfect tone throughout session. He got to the high ground on ethics reform and was able to override the governor on paycheck protection. There were lofty expectations going into session, and Richardson surpassed them.
Labor – Looking at the disastrous results from Obama’s final midterm in 2014 you might have thought that this was the end of labor in Missouri. However, Al Bond, Mike Louis, Jeff Aboussie and the innovators amongst labor’s ranks crafted a new approach and somehow, by the skin of their teeth, made it through without any significant legislation passing. No one could have predicted that in January of 2015.
Senator Will Kraus – What could be better than passing Voter ID while running for Missouri Secretary of State? Kraus will be the underdog in the race, but this was a win for both him and Republicans who have long wanted to pass what most people see as a common sense step in voting.
Anheuser-Busch – It wasn’t easy as Mother’s drinkers from Springfield and Boulevard drinkers from Kansas City united with Senate leadership to make passing a “cooler bill” a tough challenge. However, in the end the “King of Beers” relied on an amazing lobbying effort to get the bill across the finish line.
Governor Nixon – His last session could have been a killing field for both his legacy and relevance. However, his veto of paycheck protection was upheld, and the amazing team at MATA has made sure that the anti-trial attorney legislation he is likely to gleefully veto will be upheld. He will also likely keep the land he bought in southern Missouri. Nixon will leave office as a governor who made the trains run on time, and likely on a high note with his veto pen carrying the day on key issues.
University of Missouri – Who would have ever predicted heading into season that Mizzou would leave with only minor nicks to their budget? An amazing lobbying effort blunted the college trying to open up an abortion clinic, letting protestors run the school, trying to put their employee as AG, and spitting in the face of the sunshine law. It showed that the Missouri Senate is weak, feckless and impotent in giving oversight to the university. The professors will likely respond to any tough talk from them in the future with open laughter. Nixon’s most glaring failure in office may be to have appointed a majority of failures as curators.
Senator Schmitt – He passed the beer bill and a sequel to last year’s SB5 to stop cities’ new and innovative way to prey upon citizens. However, he is a winner due to coming into session without a primary opponent and two general election opponents with little fundraising prowess. He leaves session in the same position, and may be the Republican who can turn the tide in statewide elections.
Attorney General Chris Koster – He avoided a primary (a pipe dream after switching parties 8 years ago), and Republicans in the legislature gave him a golden issue to run on — ignoring the business community in favor of religious bills. The legislature also stoked labor’s memberships in key swing countries and gave him an obvious playbook for November.
Business Community – They took a strong stand against a state Republicans and won. It could be the beginning of business making Republicans earn their support and force more pro-business legislation through the General Assembly. However, if they do not come through and support legislators like Anne Zerr in a big way this summer they will find a group of legislators uninterested in all bark no bite outcries next year.
Rep. Elijah Haahr – His Emerging Issues Committee was home to almost every major bill in the House this year, and his dealing with those brought near universal praise. He will likely start the race as the frontrunner in what will be a hotly contested Speaker Pro Tem race this year.
Senator Mike Kehoe – Against all odds he preserved the Senate for another year. It came close to breaking and very few understood why something like SJR39 rose to the level of being PQ’d, but the Senate came back together under his leadership. He also showed he has 22 votes to pass most anything. If Eigel and Koenig win this year he will likely have 23 near House like Senators to move any piece of legislation he chooses.
Social-Only Conservatives – If you’re a Republican only because you want more laws to impact people’s social lives, this was the first session in years that you likely left frustrated. This could be where the business conservatives begin to conflict with the social conservatives. It may be that only Senator Onder has the credibility with each to bridge the gap and find common ground moving forward.
Utilities – This was supposed to be the session where Ameren and Noranda came together and passed legislation. However, it just never worked. Noranda could never commit to bringing back jobs, and Ameren took weeks to produce legislation. There is a path forward, but only time will tell if the approach changes.
Anti-Labor Supporters – Oh so close, but still no cigar. Their wins may not lie in an uphill climb in the Governor’s race, but in the 2018 elections turning Reps. like Funderburk into Reps. like Wieman.
Tax Cuts – 40 hours of debate on a social issue that has never impacted a single Missourian since statehood. 0 hours on Senator Schmitt’s tax cut bill. No it’s not 1996, it’s 2016 with a Republican supermajority and somewhere Jack Kemp is spinning in his grave.
Craft Brewers – On the one hand, they showed their first signs of turning their market share and geographic loyalty into political strength, highlighted by Boulevard hiring a lobbyist and greatly impacting the beer bill. However, even with an AB competitor helping them in mid-Missouri they came up on the short end of the stick, and some questioned whether the contentious fight was worth it on a bill that seemed to lack meaningful impact on the industry. Going forward this growing industry may find it hard to pass legislation they’ll need after this fight.
Ethics Reform – The issue that really only lives on the editorial pages made some token progress, but it seems that several senators figured out that no one back home brings it up to them, and those editorial pages wont suddenly support their conservative agenda regardless of how many bills they pass.
State House Democrats – They managed to help pass a couple bills, and kill medical marijuana, but they failed to file candidates in several competitive districts that could be the difference in getting back to a number that can sustain vetoes.
To be determined
Medical Marijuana – While the legislature just didn’t want to handle the issue its now up to the voters to make an impact. It will be interesting to see if the optimistic polling matches the result at the ballot box, and who will fund the opposition campaign.
Supreme Court – The lower court rejected SB5 too late for the legislature to pass a fix. Throughout American history the courts have risen to the challenge of protecting civil rights, it remains to be seen the current Missouri Supreme Court will have the courage to uphold the most important civil rights legislation of this century thus far.
Missouri Right to Life – They had the most successful year in decades with the Sanctity of Life Committee literally shutting down an abortion clinic. However, the courts are fighting back, and now three members of that committee are on the statewide ballot. If they are not standing with them this summer, look for a new pro-life group to emerge to fill the void of not only advocating for pro-life causes, but supporting those legislators who join them.