Who will lobby for less transparency now?

Special Tax District lobbyist Bill Kuehling terminated his lobbyist registration at Missouri Ethics Commission last month. Kuehling was first hired by St. Louis City’s Senior Citizens’ Services Fund Board while working at Thompson Coburn. He helped create the Senior Fund’s special property tax.

After he left the firm, the Senior Fund Board hired him to lobby the Missouri General Assembly to eliminate the statutory requirement that the Fund’s budget be approved by the Board of Alders.

Kuehling was successful in 2021 with an amendment added to House Bill 271 to remove oversight of the City’s Senior Fund. Senior Funds in all other counties must be approved by their county council or county commission.

The Senior Fund Board later honored State Rep. Donna Baringer and accused rapist State Senator Steve Roberts for handling the change.

Tax districts in St. Louis City- such as Senior Fund and Metropolitan Parks & Recreation (dba Great Rivers Greenway)- go on the ballot with promises to voters that Board of Alders have oversight over their budgets. Then they hire lobbyists to work with legislators to change state laws they are governed by, make them independent of local government.

Maybe Alex Kuehling at Rosenblum Goldenhersh will follow in his father’s footsteps and become a lobbyist as well as corporate welfare attorney.

Alex wrote the Fiscal Note for Board Bill 165 to create special tax districts for the hot mess known as Jefferson Arms. The sales and uses taxes created by Jefferson Arms Community Improvement District and the Jefferson Arms Transportation Development District are pledged to the redevelopment’s TIF.

Why are developers via their agents allowed to prepare the Fiscal Notes for their corporate welfare? A government office prepares the Fiscal Notes for legislation everywhere else.

For State legislation, the Missouri General Assembly’s Oversight Division prepares Fiscal Notes.

But Ordinance 70404 (Board Bill 63 sponsored by Alder Antonio French et al) requiring Fiscal Notes by the Board of Alders was poorly written or intentionally vague. Unlike the State’s Fiscal Note law, the City’s law does not specifically say who can shall and shall not write the document. Foxes are left to guard the henhouse.