Lots of barking going on in the legislatures
The Kansas City Star
Missouri legislators can’t ground the governor, but they would if they could.
The first order of business would be to confiscate the keys to that shiny, $5.6 million new airplane the Missouri Highway Patrol purchased in December without legislative approval.
Ryan Silvey, a GOP senator from Kansas City, and frequent Nixon critic, says he was told the patrol needed a second plane because the peripatetic governor and other state officials were often monopolizing the law enforcement agency’s first plane.
Highway Patrol Col. Ronald Replogle said the patrol initiated the purchase. He said the plane would serve the state for years to come.
In other news, state Auditor Tom Schweich this week pointed out that the Department of Insurance paid more than $23,000 over two years for 70 flights scheduled by the governor’s office. Only eight of the trips involved staffers from the insurance department.
Schweich rightly criticized that non-transparent expense. But neither his disapproval nor the legislature’s is likely to have any impact. Nixon has been unapologetic about his traveling ways, and the plane purchase indicates he thinks the benefits to his job performance — and political prospects — are worth the occasional flak.
State of no union
Backers of anti-union legislation usually try to put some kind of positive spin on their efforts. They are “protecting workers’ paychecks,” for instance.
Rarely does anyone speak with the candor exhibited by Eric Stafford, chief lobbyist for the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, who blurted out in a committee hearing this week that “I need this bill passed so we can get rid of public sector unions.”
“This bill,” otherwise known as House Bill 2023, would prevent unions from using automatic payroll deductions from members to finance political activities.
The move is unnecessary. No one can be compelled to join a union in Kansas, a right-to-work state. Unions solicit political contributions separately from dues. But ending automatic deductions would make raising money more cumbersome and difficult.
The Kansas Legislature should have better things to do than to interfere in a benefit negotiated between employer and employees. But a committee approved House Bill 2023 by a vote of 10 to 5.
The bill does not protect teachers against bullying by unions, as one lawmaker suggested. But if the end game is to get rid of unions which provide valuable protections for public sector workers, it certainly is a step in that direction.
More coffee, please
Getting up early to vote is one thing. Getting up super early to argue for or against the right to vote is another.
The chairwoman of the Missouri House elections committee scheduled a hearing on this year’s version of the always-controversial voter identification legislation for the bizarre hour of 6:45 a.m. this coming Tuesday. She wanted to make sure everybody had a chance to testify before House business gets started at 10 a.m., explained Sue Entlicher, a Bolivar Republican.
One small problem: The doors of the Capitol aren’t usually unlocked before 7 a.m.
A bigger problem, as new Secretary of State Jason Kander, a Kansas City Democrat, pointed out, is that the early hour creates a hardship for people who might want to attend, especially with Nixon delivering his State of the State address the night before.
Entlicher quickly relented, and the meeting will begin at 8 a.m.
This bill is a dog
Although Missouri has a state-whatever for just about everything, it has no state dog.
Fortunately, there’s a bill for that, although it’s not what one would expect.
House Bill 306 seeks to designate “Old Drum,” a hound whose untimely death became the source of litigation that made it all the way to the state Supreme Court, as Missouri’s official historical dog.
Considering the legislature’s aversion to trial lawyers and “frivolous lawsuits,” this surprises us a little. But far be it from us to bark when the moon is full.