LETTER: Legislature seems intent to overturn the people's decision

Friday, February 18, 2011 | 2:52 p.m. CST; updated 5:28 p.m. CST, Saturday, February 19, 2011

I wonder how many other Missouri citizens share my sense of outrage that the current Missouri legislature seems to be intent on undoing the will of the people, as expressed through our votes, in as many ways as they possibly can.

  • They have worked to undermine the renewable energy standard by removing the provision that required local sourcing of renewable power, thus depriving Missouri of jobs.
  • They are trying to undermine the anti-CWIP legislation — passed overwhelmingly by voters — by allowing AmerenUE to charge ratepayers for an early site permit for a reactor they may never build, even though they clearly could easily afford the $40 million on their own, since they are a for-profit company. (SB 50, HB 124)
  • This session of the legislature has also worked to undermine every meaningful provision of last year's Prop B by passing HCS HB 131, a bill which is in no way a compromise and will leave our state as the puppy mill capital of America — quite an unlovely reputation to have.
  • At the same time bills proceed through the House and Senate that would take away family farmers' rights to sue Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations threatening their livelihood and quality of life. (SB 187, HB209)
  • There has even been a bill introduced to repeal the child labor laws. (SB 222)

What are these people thinking?

Though I oppose each of these actions by the new tea party legislature, I think the larger question is about democracy. Once the people of this great state have made their views clear to our representatives, by what moral right do they turn around and completely overturn our decisions? Concerned citizens in Missouri have frequently had to turn to propositions and amendments to get themselves heard at all in the halls of the Capitol, because popular legislation has too often languished in committees. They have had to rely on courts or local county regulations because our state's Department of Natural Resources lacks the real power to protect our air and water.

I think if the Missouri legislature continues to give our democratic process one slap in the face after another, they are going to experience some considerable anger from the public, perhaps anger like that seen in Egypt. Perhaps, what could be far worse, our citizens will experience more discouragement that makes them just give up on government, stop getting involved, and stop voting altogether.

That might be good for the tea party, but it is certainly not good for Missouri.

Jean A. Blackwood lives in Columbia.

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