Feuding Missouri legislators waste time, money
The Kansas City Star
Seriously, Missouri legislature?
Three weeks of fits and starts and all you have to show in this special session is a fix to the law that — ooops! — prevented parents who happen to be teachers from communicating with their own children on Facebook.
The “crisp and focused” session that was supposed to give Missouri a new framework for attracting companies and good-paying jobs has turned as soggy as the cold pizza lying around the Capitol.
Disgusted lawmakers headed home Friday with the centerpiece economic development proposal on life support, and a separate bill intended to boost Missouri’s life sciences industries swirling in confusion.
Despite earlier vows from some leaders that the session would end Friday, lawmakers held out the possibility of returning next week.
But prospects are dim that the legislature will authorize tax credits to establish a cargo hub at the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.
And though that questionable project deserves more study, a host of other ideas are likely to go down with it, including incentives to help Kansas City fend off raids of its businesses by Kansas, and smart reforms of Missouri’s costly and inequitable tax credit lineup.
The Senate and House did pass a bill creating new incentives to recruit science and technology companies to the state. But a clause in the bill says it can’t go into effect unless the major economic development bill also passes. It’s unclear whether that clause can withstand a legal challenge.
The legislature may not even get around to taking action on bills authorizing local control for the St. Louis Police Department and setting a relevant date for the state’s presidential primary.
What went wrong? The simplest explanation is that Republican legislative leaders failed to do enough groundwork before asking Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon to call a special session. The barriers seen over the last three weeks involve GOP infighting in the Senate and disagreements between the Republican majorities in the Senate and House.
As the special session sputters along, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars every day, one can’t help thinking back to the shameful filibustering over benefits for jobless citizens that paralyzed the Senate for days in the regular session.
With so much time invested, we would like to see something substantive emerge from this ill-fated session. But the legislature’s inability to conduct business efficiently doesn’t give much cause for confidence.