Laughing at Missouri, backstabbing in Kansas
The Kansas City Star
The nation is rapidly discovering that Missouri’s legislature is not quite normal.
Stephen Colbert and his late-night Comedy Central show this week mocked Rep. Steve Cookson’s proposal to ban any mention of sexuality in Missouri public schools, except in a purely scientific sense.
Cookson, a Republican from Fairdealing, continued to back the controversial bill, which would ban school-sponsored gay-straight alliances and forbid a candid discussion of bullying based on a student’s sexual orientation. Shamefully, so did the two top House leaders, Speaker Steve Tilley and Majority Leader Tim Jones.
Even a moving and dignified declaration by a fellow Republican, Zach Wyatt of Green City, who disclosed he was gay and opposed Cookson’s bill, failed to sway the leaders.
Jon Stewart’s late-night Daily Show aired a withering takedown of a House bill that would make gun owners a protected class, meaning employers and others can’t discriminate against them. The sponsor, Republican Wanda Brown of Lincoln, was at pains to cite any instance in which that has happened. The bill would give gun owners more rights in Missouri than gay and lesbian citizens, who can document numerous instances of discrimination.
A writer for The Atlantic wrote a web column about the Missouri House bill that makes it a crime for federal officials to try to enforce the Affordable Care Act in the state.
The national media has yet to discover House bills that require presidential candidates to produce birth certificates, ban undercover photos from being taken on farms, and guaranteeing the right of every Missourian to participate in rodeos.
In the short term, blame Tilley and Jones for this nonsense. They decide what legislation moves forward. Longer term, Missourians really need to look closely at the people they’re electing to state offices.
All over the map
Two Kansas senators made a magnanimous gesture this week. Tim Owens of Overland Park and Jean Schodorf of Wichita, both moderate Republicans, agreed to vote for a redistricting map that puts conservative primary challengers in their districts.
In both cases, the inclusion was a stretch. Owens, who chaired the redistricting committee, called it gerrymandering. He and Schodorf agreed to the oddly drawn districts to move the redistricting process off dead center, believing they had a deal with House Speaker Mike O’Neal to recommend the map to his chamber.
No such luck. The House rejected the Senate’s map and went to work on its own Senate redistricting plan.
A sticking point was O’Neal’s wish for the Senate map to draw in a third primary challenger to a moderate Republican. If all three challenges succeeded, conservatives in the Senate would have enough votes to rubberstamp Gov. Sam Brownback’s ambitious agenda.
“The 800-pound gorilla in this room is that the governor and the folks from the House who are of a very conservative mind decided they were going to take on anybody who disagreed with them, anybody who had a different view,” Owens said.
He’s right. And increasingly it’s looking like a court will decide if the governor gets his way.
Your Senate on drugs
While the Missouri House has embarrassed the state with a spate of wacky bills, the Senate’s problem is that it can’t pass much of anything.
Take this week’s demise of a bill to set up a government database to track prescription drug purchases. All but two states have done this, to prevent “doctor shopping” to feed addictions or resell pharmaceuticals.
Missouri should pass this bill, lest it become a black market for prescription drugs. But the idea of consenting to a government database was too much for Republican Sen. Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph and some other senators. With Schaaf leading, they embarked on an eight-hour filibuster and eventually killed the bill.
During the debate, Schaaf conceded that he supports stricter seat belt laws because people hurt in wrecks cost the government and infringe on other people’s liberties.
Not so prescription drug users, he said.
“If they overdose and kill themselves, it just removes them from the gene pool,” Schaaf said.
Classy. Schaaf, by the way, is a family physician.