Today in bad ideas: Missouri's 'Don't Get Sick' bill
The Kansas City Star
Missouri Rep. Steve Cookson, the Republican from the Poplar Bluff area who made news last session with his ill-fated “don’t say gay” bill, is back with another preposterous piece of legislation.
This time it’s the “don’t get sick” bill.
Cookson is sponsoring House Bill 1040. It is short and self-explanatory: “School age children of welfare recipients must attend public school, unless physically disabled, at least ninety percent of the time in order to receive benefits.”
In other words, the responsibility for the family’s financial well-being would depend on a child’s school attendance. That’s a lot of responsibility to place on a first-grader with tonsillitis, or a middle-schooler with mononucleosis, or a high school kid with clinical depression.
Cookson, a retired educator from southeast Missouri, sponsored legislation last year which would have prohibited any discussion of human sexuality in public schools outside of biology classes — effectively barring gay-straight alliance groups and even candid discussions between gay students and counselors about sexual orientation. The “don’t say gay” bill made worldwide news, and was quietly buried in the education committee.
But House Republican leaders rewarded Cookson this session by making him chairman of that particular committee. That might gain the “don’t get sick” bill a debate on the House floor. Perhaps then the Missouri General Assembly can discuss the problems with holding poor kids to a different standard because their parents are collecting a welfare check.