I have been conducting my annual search of proposed legislation for the upcoming session at the state capitol and am finding little in the way of anything of a truly serious nature.
The reasons for this, at least in my mind, are simple and complicated, covert and downright sneaky.
Before we continue, I suggest that you go to the House and Senate Joint Bill Tracking page for the state of Missouri and try inserting a key word to see if there is anything affecting your industry.
You may find nothing, but if you do find proposed legislation, you will find that most of the proposals have no title. In fact, you will find that the key word lookup may not fit the standards expected for search optimization.
The absence of a title reduces one’s chance of finding bills appropriate to the topic at hand. There must be legislation concerning farms, but only one bill appeared during my search — HB1057 concerning the exemption of taxes for certain products sold at farmer’s markets.
Type in farming, hogs, pigs, cattle, corn or soybeans, and you will find nothing.
If you search for a medical topic, six proposed bills will turn up — but none with a title. If you search for “abortion,” you'll find three bills. Yet none of them show up under a medical search.
Of 23 bills about “education,” 15 are without a title.
The list continues.
To make the matters more confusing for the citizen wishing to keep up with legislation are the descriptions provided for the search.
For example, SB605 “updates references to higher education statutes that have been previously repealed.” This would appear to be broad-brush legislation about any “previously repealed” statute.
Reading SB605, one finds that it covers more than higher education. The sections listed in this bill include definitions for farming, alternative energy, water supply systems and small businesses, to name a few.
In fact the purpose of this bill is to replace section RSMo §173.215 with §173.1104. It's procedural, intended to clean up language that references repealed statutes. But why are 17 pages of proposed legislation needed to make a simple change?
HB1103, “Alternatives to Abortion Agencies,” introduced by Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger, R-Lake St. Louis, seems to be an example of the right-wing conservative's attempt to create federal legislation through state law.
The summary states: “Specifies that the constitutions and laws of the United States and Missouri must protect the rights of an alternatives-to-abortion agency and its officers to freely engage in activities without interference.”
Two things are wrong here. First, states cannot specify anything of the federal Constitution or federal statutes. The courts of the United States have held that Article VI, Clause 2 of the “Constitution, and the Laws of the United States … shall be the supreme Law of the Land.”
Additionally, there are no laws, nor are there any proposed laws, in the state of Missouri that would limit businesses of “maternity homes,” “pregnancy resource center(s),” or “an agency or entity that has the primary purpose of providing services or counseling to pregnant women to assist them in carrying their unborn children to term instead of having abortions and to assist the women in caring for their dependent children or placing their children for adoption.”
In fact, I know of no liberals, progressives or Democrats who would seek restrictions on these centers.
Then, Sen. Brian Neives, R-Kirkwood, has introduced yet another bill seeking to nullify federal firearms legislation. As written, “This act declares as invalid all federal laws that infringe on the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 23 of the Missouri Constitution.”
Why waste time with bills that, if passed, would impose court costs on Missouri when such a law is challenged by the federal government?
There will be more of these proposals, and I intend to bring them to light as we plod through the 2014 legislative session.
David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics.