Flaky legislation buries Missouri, Kansas
The Kansas City Star
Snow days on Thursday and Friday brought a much-appreciated quiet to the Missouri and Kansas legislatures, both of which produced enough clamor in the first part of the week to roust the Founding Fathers.
We begin in Jefferson City, with House Republican Mike Leara’s bill making it a felony for any member of the General Assembly to file a bill that limits the right to bear arms. By that we presume he means any kind of arms, even the most deadly.
The proposal by Leara, from south St. Louis County, made national news and once again portrayed Missouri as a state with a ridiculous legislature — an image some of the more serious leaders are trying to change.
A Democratic House member countered with a faux proposal making it a felony to file a bill that damages unions, but that was regarded as a weak comeback.
Leara’s bill won’t go anywhere. But it causes us to marvel, not for the first time, about people who insist on the broadest interpretation of the Second Amendment while rushing to trample all over the First Amendment and its protection of freedom of speech.
Over in Topeka, meanwhile, the Kansas Legislature busied itself with a mind-boggling array of bad legislation.
In keeping with their dogged efforts to impose their will on local governments, while insisting on independence from Washington, lawmakers on the elections committee are considering making all elections for school boards and city and county offices partisan, and shifting them to November.
As numerous opponents on those bodies have pointed out, school boards and local governments don’t often wander into partisan territory, and government is better for it. Is it any surprise that controversial Secretary of State Kris Kobach helped prepare this bad bill?
The Kansas Legislature has no business sticking its nose into local elections.
- While the House debated the annual bill seeking to put even more obstacles into the paths of women seeking abortions in Kansas and the doctors who perform them, the Senate approved a bill making it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion if the woman’s sole reason for performing it is to avoid giving birth to a baby of a certain gender.
Both measures contain elements that are blatantly unscientific and very likely unconstitutional. A patient isn’t required to disclose to a physician her reason for needing an abortion, for instance. But Kansas lawmakers have never let science and the Constitution get in their way.
Speaking of defying science, the House education committee is considering a bill demanding that climate change deniers be given their say in the state’s science curriculums.
Also, the chairman of the House energy and environment committee has introduced a bill to ban the use of public funds to promote sustainable development. Republican Rep. Dennis Hedke’s definition of “sustainable development” in House Bill 2366 is incomprehensible, but he appears to object to attempts to preserve the environment.
(Not to be outpaced in the rush to promote ignorance, some Missouri Republicans are pushing a bill that “requires the equal treatment of science instruction regarding evolution and intelligent design.”)
- In perhaps a new low, House Bill 2372 would require cities that fluoridate water to notify users that “ingested fluoride lowers the I.Q. in children.”
It does nothing of the sort, and even the sponsor, Republican Rep. Steve Brunk of Wichita, said he has no interest in pursuing the bill. He filed it, Brunk said, at the request of a constituent.
Unreal. Someone needs to inform Brunk and other lawmakers that their job is not to waste the Legislature’s time by enshrining every wacky idea from a constituent into a bill.
The less the better
Happily, at least one good idea is floating around in the state capitols.
John Lamping, a Republican senator from St. Louis County, is proposing a constitutional amendment that would shorten the Missouri legislative session by about a month and a half.
An abbreviated session would save money and encourage lawmakers to be more efficient, Lamping said.
A big “aye” to that logic.