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DAVID ROSMAN: Previewing the pre-filed bills in General Assembly

Wednesday, January 5, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CST

ALERT: On Wednesday, the government of the state of Missouri became dysfunctional. The state legislature is back in session.

I spent a bit of time examining the bills that were pre-filed for the 2011 Missouri session. The first 10 Senate and first 10 House bills were filed by five Republican legislators, with Rep. David Sater, R-Cassville, filing nine alone. I agree with some of the bills, disagree with others and am completely confused why some were even proposed.

Of course nothing will be done under the Gray Dome on this first week, so there is time to complain by any means possible to those we elected and, of course, to me. Here are four and one-half of the Senate’s offerings.

SB 3 “The act establishes identification requirements for voting.” Introduced by state Sen. Bill Stouffer (R-Marshall), to prevent voter fraud.

In 2008, four ACORN workers were accused of using, “questionable registration forms.” Actual voter fraud, however, is rare. Unlike Chicago, where “breathing” is not a requirement to vote.

The major problem: Secretary of State Robin Carnahan has not yet purged the eligible voter list of those who have died, felons and otherwise may no longer be eligible to vote.

The Wall Street Journal reported that when she was confronted with the latter, Carnahan, “contended that her office had no obligation to ensure individual counties were complying with the federal law mandating a cleanup of their voter rolls.” One-third of our counties have more registered voters than eligible citizens.

Is requiring all voters to show a picture I.D. the answer? Is restricting those without proper identification to provisional ballots the answer? No. Requiring the Secretary of State’s office and, by extension, the voting officials of each county to purge their files annually is the answer. This proposed law will only disenfranchise voters who, for whatever reason, have no picture I.D.

SB 4 — “Would repeal the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act,” is contrary to the wants of 51 percent of Missouri voters. Also introduced by Mr. Stouffer, this bill will bite him in the end. (“Laugh, it was funny” — Joan Rivers)

SB 5 and SB 7 — “Requires the Department of Social Services to test applicants or recipients of temporary assistance for needy families (TANF) benefits who are eligible for employment when a case worker believes, based on reasonable suspicion, that such person engages in illegal use of controlled substances.” Introduced by Stouffer (SB 5) and Sen. Jack Goodman (R-Mt. Vernon) (SB 7).

This is a topic discussed at least once a term by my speech students at Columbia College. Many of my liberal friends discuss this subject at length as well. This Stouffer proposal is a good idea: Money provided to those eligible is not used for drug purchases. Even pro-marijuana advocates seem to agree on this one.

SB 6 — Introduced by Goodman, this bill would provide that “any health plan that provides health care services to low-income individuals on a prepaid basis and that meets certain conditions shall not be considered engaging in the business of insurance and shall not be subject to health insurance laws.”

With my 20-plus years of insurance experience, this bill sits on the fence, even with its long list of conditions. However, it is the last provision that puts this act in question.

The proposed law provides that licensed medical professional volunteers who provide “medical or mental health treatment to a patient at a nonprofit faith-based community health center providing health care services for a nominal fee shall not be liable for any civil damages for acts or omissions…” What about the non-profit secular community health centers?

I cannot support a state legislature providing special benefits to religious organizations, not because I am an atheist, but the First Amendment of the Constitution prohibits such actions. If the Senator would delete “faith-based” from the bill, this is not that bad. Not great, but not that bad.

Four and one-half (SB 7) out of the first 20 is pretty good for one column. Allow me to continue this next week when our state legislators can start causing some real damage.

David Rosman is an award-winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at InkandVoice.com and New York Journal of Books.


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Comments

Ellis Smith January 6, 2011 | 8:47 a.m.

I'm certain, David, that you could write a weekly column in perpetuity about the foibles of various state legislatures.

One of my favorites involves the legislature of a neighboring state and the forced sale several years ago of a television station (commercial, an ABC affiliate) "out from under" one of the state's major universities. In other words, the TV station was privatized.

The university involved was and is one of the nation's pioneer (radio) broadcast services, and their TV station was one of the first TV broadcast stations in the Midwest, older than KOMU.

The state was short of funds (gee,, what a novel situation!) and was casting around for assets to sell.

Even after the measure passed, both the university and their TV station were certain they could count on their viewers to campaign for university retention of the station. WRONG! The majority of viewers surveyed said they didn't care WHO owned the TV station as long as it continued in operation.

Is complacency in university-based TV broadcasting a potentially dangerous attitude? :)

(Report Comment)
Jim Jones January 6, 2011 | 2:30 p.m.

David

I love the line about the legislature being dysfunctional now since it back in session. I wish that I had thought of that. I mean it is so obvious to the most casual observer. BUT, I am not sure that Missourah can claim to be the only state in which that is true. And then there is the federal legislature, except we don't usually notice because they are always in Washington and messing something up. And if they don't have anything better to do, they go back over what legislation they passed previously to see if they can find something they did that was even close to maybe being well done, so that they can change it or eliminate it! ObamaCare for instance!

(Report Comment)
William Monroe January 8, 2011 | 11:44 a.m.

David...I am surprised you did not mention SB 1. After all it is #1. It is the "Right to work for lower pay" bill, meant to destroy Unions. We should all just trust Scrooge to run things and give us our lump of coal if he sees fit.
I follow you thru Linked In and look forward to your next column.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz January 8, 2011 | 12:53 p.m.

That's funny, I would consider SB1 the "Don't Make Me Pay Dues if I'm not a Union Member" bill...

(Report Comment)
Yves Montclear January 8, 2011 | 1:55 p.m.

Mr. Rosman, that has to be the most well written 'opinion' article I have read here or at the Columbia Tribune online in I don't know how long.

I am flabbergasted.

Backing up opinion with facts and experience, tossing in some correctly applied wit. I really enjoyed reading this article.

You presented these bills with enough information, and in such a way, that I believe any reader can understand what they are about. Whether they agree or disagree with your position on the bills.

That was a fun read, as much as one can be for the subject matter.

Again, very impressive, Mr. Rosman. You know your art.

(Report Comment)

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