Gov. Mike Parson is fielding numerous calls to reconvene the recently adjourned legislature in an extraordinary — often wrongly called a special — session. Again.
The governor has been asked to take on numerous topics, many of which lawmakers had ample opportunity to address in regular order. Again.
Many topics were the subjects of bills that the legislature saw fit not to pass during the regular session.
Many of the topics being put forward seem as much political theater to highlight a hot-button issue as an effort to ensure the welfare of the people of Missouri.
There is certain to be at least one extraordinary session this summer. Again.
Let’s make an important distinction: A special session can only be called by the General Assembly with a three-fourths vote of both the Missouri House and the Missouri Senate. They almost never happen. In fact, only one has ever been called: to consider impeaching Gov. Eric Greitens, who subsequently resigned.
Extraordinary sessions are called by the governor and are limited, called to address a specific topic. But these extraordinary sessions are hardly that. They are downright common — way too common. The state has averaged more than one a year in recent years.
Some are needed. The Medicaid measure is essential despite the legislative failure, as was the session to pass a supplemental budget using federal coronavirus relief funds last summer.
Regardless, these sessions are costly. Figures quoted in recent years have ranged from around $140,000 to $160,000 for each single-topic session.
Extraordinary sessions should not be used to grandstand or to offset the failure of lawmakers to do the job during the regular session. That failure should be offset at the ballot box, when we should hold lawmakers — and the governor — responsible for how they handle our business.
Copyright Joplin Globe. Reprinted with permission.