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WHAT OTHERS SAY: Approve ‘priority’ public safety measure

Wednesday, May 8, 2013 | 12:58 p.m. CDT

A priority when the legislative session began in January remains undone with fewer than two weeks remaining.

A measure to extend closure of security plans for public buildings, including schools, continues to bounce back and forth between the House and Senate.

In response to acts of violence and terrorism at public facilities, lawmakers wisely sealed documents concerning emergency response, evacuation and safety procedures for public buildings.

The measure contained a sunset provision that expired at the end of last year.

Since that time, those facilities have been vulnerable; evacuation plans, for example, are public documents available through Missouri’s Open Meetings and Open Records Law, commonly called the Sunshine Law.

School safety and the absence of intrusive or violent acts in the past four months can be attributed to good fortune rather than legislative action.

The safety measure is largely a victim of its own popularity.

After being designated a legislative “priority” with virtually no opposition — even members of the media skeptical of closed records support this — the measure began to attract attachments.

Although we support a number of these Sunshine Law additions, we do not support the burden it has placed on passage of this fundamental, necessary safety measure.

We understand the legislative temptation — particularly this late in the session — to load up any bill likely to pass the finish line.

In this case, however, risking the safety of students, government workers and others is unacceptable.

The risks of “what-if scenarios” are too enormous, particularly if something that everyone wanted done could have been done, but wasn’t.

Despite our support for a number of attachments, we encourage lawmakers to strip this safety measure to its essentials.

Let the attachments stand or fall on their own merits — this session or in the future.

But don’t sacrifice extension of a fundamental safety measure.

Talk is cheap. Stop talking about this “priority” and pass it before time runs out.

Copyright Jefferson City News Tribune. Reprinted with permission.


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