DAVID ROSMAN: Getting things done is not the priority in Missouri Legislature

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 | 3:26 p.m. CST

One of the great problems in Iowa's caucus is the same problem we have in Missouri and other states — the primary vote is little more than a beauty contest. The real selection of a presidential candidate happens in the state caucuses.

Other than statutory requirements, why is Missouri spending millions of dollars on a worthless primary? Why not refund the registration fees and save the state the much needed funds for something more important — like K-12 education?

The reason? Partially because the Missouri legislators, the vast majority from the right side of the aisle, appear to not want to get anything important done, especially to truly save a few bucks. Much like their big brothers in Washington.

Even before the start of Missouri’s session on Wednesday, about 300 bills have been pre-filed. Most will not make it to the floor. Some will not get out of committee. A few will be voted up by the House and down by the Senate. Or vice versa.

I was only able to find one bill from a Columbia legislator on file, that of state Sen. Kurt Schaefer extending tax credits for food pantries for 10 more years. Good for you Kurt. Really, I mean it.

Again, this year’s theme is the creation of new and dreaded state constitutional amendments. For example, as of Tuesday morning, there were four proposals to change the constitution to require term limits for all elected officials; three in the Senate and one the House. Aren't the bi-annual and quad-annual elections of the members of the House and Senate "term limits" by the people?

What's the matter? The GOP does not trust the voters? Do they want to force the two chambers to lose any remaining cohesiveness of history? Are the Republicans complying with Pope Benedict XVI’s edict that we are to legislatively "dismount from the high horse of our ‘enlightened’ reason?"

There is HB 1104 filed by Shane Schoeller, R-Springfield, which will require "a voter to provide photo identification." Another law that 1) has little real basis for its need, 2) has failed in the past, and 3) is detrimental to those of lower income. The last is not because of the cost of the ID. It is the cost of time needed to acquire such identification. Standing in yet another line means not working for minimum wage for the time it takes to get the ID.

One of the silliest and possibly most financially harmful for Missourians and the state is proposed amendment SJR 34, creating a state constitutional amendment that would replace "all taxes on income with a sales and use tax."  All Sen. Chuck Purgason, R-Camden, has done is recycle the failed 2010 SJR 29.

Next time the economy goes bad, when sales drop off and property value and personal income fall to new lows, will our budget not still suffer?

The only people who "win" will be those who claim Missouri residency and shop or work out of state or country. Tough on the rest of us who will be paying tax on everything we buy.

Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, wants yet another constitutional amendment, SJR39, which would exempt Missouri from the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Could this mean that the welfare and health of Missouri’s citizens is not important to Cunningham?

This list continues and is far from done. Hundreds of more bills will be introduced, hopefully a few from Reps. Mary Still, Stephen Webber and Chris Kelly, before the end of the session. Watch closely, my friends, at another "do nothing for the good of the people" state legislature.

Speaking of which, though the session "starts" Wednesday, I have a pool going as to when the men and women under the Gray Dome actually get to work. I'd guess sometime in the final weeks.

P.S. Kathy is doing great. Thank you for all of your kind thoughts and notes.

David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics.

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Michael Williams January 4, 2012 | 5:17 p.m.

Two things:

Dave says, "Next time the economy goes bad, when sales drop off and property value and personal income fall to new lows, will our budget not still suffer?"

Me says, "Yes, as it should."

Dave says, "Could this mean that the welfare and health of Missouri’s citizens is not important to Cunningham?"

Me says, "Can you say 'obnoxious hyperbole'?"

PS: One good thing I see in all this is individuals, the state and communities pulling in their financial horns. As they should. Unfortunately, it will be all for naught since there has been NO change in the basic philosophy of spending/saving. Once things start to look up again (2013-2014), we'll do it all over again.

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