Missouri state Rep. Chris Sander of Lone Jack, a Republican, has the answer for the COVID-19 crisis.

He’s introduced a bill that would allow over-the-counter, non-prescription sale of ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine tablets in Missouri. Some people think the medicines can treat the virus.

“Some people” does not include the Food and Drug Administration. “Currently available data do not show ivermectin is effective against COVID-19,” the FDA says. “Taking large doses of ivermectin is dangerous.”

Hydroxychloroquine? It causes heart rhythm problems, the FDA says. Do these sound like tablets you should be able to pick up at the corner pharmacy, like cough drops? No, they don’t. They sound like substances that won’t cure COVID-19 but could make you very, very sick.

“Over-the-counter medicines are time sensitive, outpatient, manufactured for decades, (and) low cost,” Sander said in an email. The bill “is about health freedom and liberty for Missourians,” he said.

Sander’s bill has little chance of becoming law and may run afoul of federal rules. No matter. The measure resembles dozens of bills introduced by right-wing Republicans every year, on COVID-19 and other issues.

It’s exhausting and counterproductive. Remember: Republicans control Missouri’s government. They have the responsibility to actually govern.

That’s why it is so encouraging, as the legislature begins its 2022 session, that reasonable Republicans have offered a bill that has the chance of breaking the hyperpartisan fever in Jefferson City.

Like every other state, Missouri must draw new congressional districts that reflect the results of the 2020 census. Missouri now has eight U.S. House seats: six held by Republicans, two by Democrats.

That skews in favor of the GOP. The party’s presidential nominee won about 57% of the vote in the last presidential election, but the state’s U.S. House delegation is 75% Republican.

You’d think that would satisfy even the most extreme elements of the Missouri Republican Party. Nope. Some GOPers want a 7-1 map, one that would likely protect Rep. Cori Bush in St. Louis, a Democrat, but gerrymander Rep. Emanuel Cleaver out of a job.

“Republicans should stop appeasing Democrats and adopt a 7-1 map,” said a tweet from Missouri Sen. Bill Eigel of St. Louis, one of the Republican Party’s looser cannons.

A 7-1 congressional map would take an unfair situation and make it worse.

That’s why it’s encouraging and satisfying that two Republicans — state Sen. Mike Bernskoetter of Jefferson City and state Rep. Dan Shaul of Imperial — have proposed new maps that are refreshingly bipartisan and fair.

Each chairs the redistricting committee in their respective chambers. Their map, released last week, consolidates Cleaver’s 5th District seat in Kansas City, protects Bush’s seat and makes sensible adjustments to the state’s other districts.

It is, in other words, a 6-2 map. The status quo. “It was a map that I think accurately reflects the state of Missouri and the districts,” Shaul told Missouri Public Radio.

It does more than that. It shows Republicans can demonstrate common sense and decency when setting the rules of elections. Democrats should embrace the map, and congratulate their GOP colleagues for creating it.

That, in turn, could lead to cooperation between the parties on a host of other issues: tax reform, education, spending. It’s refreshing evidence that parties can work together when they want to.

Naturally, fringe Republicans are trying to blow up the deal. They say Democrats have tilted the deck in other states, so Missouri must do the same.

Nonsense. It isn’t Missouri’s job to fix Illinois. Even the Bernskoetter-Shaul map leans Republican. That should be enough.

Republicans opposing the effort should stand down. The committee map should be adopted quickly, starting Wednesday.

This was originally published by The Kansas City Star and is reprinted with permission.


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