Before the lege’s spring break, Republicans tried to pass Pervez Jane Cunningham‘s bill to put a constitutional amendment on the fall ballot forbidding judges from raising taxes without voter approval–as if a Missouri judge ever had. Too many people had left early on Thursday for the spring break, so the Rs had to wait. They got the bill through the House this week.

Republican behavior both times was of a piece. On the Tuesday before the break, first round approval was considered:

After about 10 minutes of debate, Speaker Pro Tem Bryan Pratt, R-Blue Springs, called for closing remarks from Cunningham, even though several Democrats were standing and Rep. J.C. Kuessner, D-Eminence, says he was waving his hand, asking to speak.

For his part, Pratt said: “Nobody was seeking recognition. There wasn’t a single hand in the air.”

That statement was only part of the lying Pratt did. Jeanette Mott-Oxford wrote that:

Although the “no” votes clearly were louder than the “yes” votes, Pratt nonetheless declared the measure had won first-round approval.


This week, GOP legislators abandoned bald-faced lying in favor of what they had said they would eschew this session: PQ (moving the Previous Question to cut off debate). Again, they left several Democrats waiting in line at the mike, this time passing the bill–but with only the minimum number of yes votes.

Cunningham’s been a busy little beaver. Wednesday night, in the capitol rotunda, she and her guest, actor-producer Ben Stein, showed a film about intelligent design. Their point was that universities are shunning intellectual diversity if they refuse to teach intelligent design. Maybe Cunningham and Stein have a point. Perhaps while the universities are at it, they should also question whether the earth is round and rotates around the sun.

In any case, Cunningham sees no irony in cutting off debate on the bill while pleading for more debate in universities.

Mott-Oxford is understandably annoyed at having been left standing at the mike:

   Since the GOP has once again cut off debate with Democrats standing at the mikes ready to speak on a bill (and an important one that calls for amending our constitution at that), I thought I’d share with you what I wanted to say if I’d had the opportunity to speak before the PQ:

   1) What’s happened to the quality of work in this Legisalture? Last year’s crash and burn mess around the economic development bill had many editors speculating that it’s time to get rid of term limits down here because clearly unskilled novices are in charge. This is yet another example as Rep. Jane Cunningham and GOP-supporters constantly said “There are some problems with the language of this bill, but we’ll fix it on the Senate side. Trust us!” Whatever happened to getting it right the first time?

   2) The real agenda behind this bill is clear if you read Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, a respected book that was honored in recent years as one of the best examples of investigative reporting. I think the author is Michelle Goldman. The chapter on the courts spells out how groups with a radical theocratic agenda are working a coordinated plan to muzzle the courts until they can take over the courts.They are currently training students with the intent of moving them into positions as the legislators, judges, and Supreme Court justices of tomorrow. (Some of the groups involved – trusting my memory here since the book is on the table by my bed in St. Louis – are Generation Joshua, Focus on the Family, Jerry Fallwell’s organization, and Patrick Henry University.)

   Interestingly enough, numerous pieces of Rep. Cunningham’s legislative package (and that of other GOP sponsors) are profiled in other chapters of the book – like intelligent design (for which Cunningham honored Ben Stein and his movie that was shown in the Rotunda yesterday!) and the “intellectual diversity bill.” Many of her bills, including those that undermine public education, are based on model legislation in the christian nationalist playbook.This coalition of theocrats would re-write US history and initiate a government based on their religious and political doctrine, clearly violating the religious freedom clause of the Bill of Rights established by our nation’s founders (and clearly in contradiction to what many other christians believe as well).

   Hopefully HJR 41 WILL be fixed in the Senate – fixed by killing it dead as a doornail.

If Democrats gain quite a few seats next election without taking either house outright, some are bemoaning the gridlock that will result from a (barely) Republican legislature and a (presumably) Democratic governor. Yes, effective governance would be put off for another day two years. On the other hand, holding a bare majority might make it harder for Republicans to railroad through crap like HJR 41: always look for the silver lining.