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The stenographer in Sunday’s Kansas City Star:

Best ethics bill in the universe? How spacey

….So the bill foundered. Frustrated, Democrats went to their trick bag and pulled out a little-used maneuver to force the bill out of committee without a vote and directly onto the House calendar.

Republicans, who are in the majority, didn’t like that. And that led to last week’s sudden flurry of activity around the bill by Republicans who, some said, were eager to punish Democrats for playing tricks with the bill….

Well, okay, but you neglected to mention this from Speaker Ron Richard (r) on January 6, 2010:

….Question:  Senator Shields has proposed a ban on contributions from lobbyists during the session. Is that something that you would support?

Speaker Richard: I will support whatever comes out of our bipartisan committee. Whatever comes out.

Question: What is the advantage [inaudible] the ethics proposals [inaudible]?

Speaker Richard: Uh, I want to make sure that both sides have the ability to, uh, have a dialog. And we go to the House, the floor, for [inaudible], you know as well as I do there’ll be several hundred amendments from all different sizes and shapes. Um, but I think that dialog is necessary and we’ll have an open dialog and, uh, we’ll get something to the Senate, uh, in a prompt basis….

“…I will support whatever comes out of our bipartisan committee. Whatever comes out…”

Question: Why is it a problem for the republican majority and a sign of Democratic Party partisanship to old media if there’s discharge petition on a bill from a “bipartisan” committee which Speaker Richard said he would support? Just asking.

“…I want to make sure that both sides have the ability to, uh, have a dialog. And we go to the House, the floor, for [inaudible], you know as well as I do there’ll be several hundred amendments from all different sizes and shapes. Um, but I think that dialog is necessary and we’ll have an open dialog and, uh, we’ll get something to the Senate, uh, in a prompt basis…” Well, that didn’t go very well.

Not well at all:

….Question: Was any Democrat allowed to actually get up and speak on this bill (inaudible)?

Representative LeVota: No, no Democrat was allowed to speak on heir own behalf or offer any of the amendments to make the bill better…

And how did the republican bill look to the Warrensburg Daily Star-Journal?:

5/10/2010 1:12:00 PM

Ethics bill looks more political than ethical

EDITORIAL

Jack Miles

Editor

…As too often is the case with what should be a straightforward piece of needed legislation, the shameful bill that came out of the House is a perversion of ethics twisted by partisan politics to the detriment of good government.

And how did Representative Denny Hoskins (r – noun, verb, CPA) – in the 121st Legislative District, representing Warrensburg – vote on this bill?:

…On motion of Representative Jones (89), HCS#2 SB 844 was adopted by the following vote:

AYES: 087

Hoskins 121

[emphasis added]

“…the shameful bill that came out of the House is a perversion of ethics twisted by partisan politics to the detriment of good government…”

Let’s take a look at some of the provisions in the actual bill, House Committee Substitute No. 2 for Senate Bill No. 844 [pdf]:

….21.860. There is established a joint committee of the general assembly to be known as the “Joint Committee on Ballot Statements”….

Uh, isn’t that the job of the Secretary of State right now?

….26.016. In the case of any vacancy for any cause in the office of lieutenant governor, the governor shall immediately fill such vacancy by special election as provided in section….

….27.015. In the case of any vacancy for any cause in the office of attorney general, the governor shall immediately appoint an acting attorney general to fill such vacancy until the vacancy is filled by special election….

….28.190. In case of death, resignation, removal from office, impeachment, or vacancy from any cause in the office of secretary of state, the governor shall immediately [appoint a qualified person to] fill such vacancy by special election….

[emphasis in original]

And there are similar provisions for State Auditor and State Treasurer.

Does anyone have an idea what a statewide special election would cost? Just asking.

….105.009. 1. Before taking office and once every two years thereafter, all state elected officials, state executive branch managerial staff, all department directors, and all members, officers, and leadership staff of the house of representatives and senate shall be subject to chemical testing of their blood or urine for the purpose of determining the drug content of the blood. The costs of such testing shall be paid by such official, director, officer, member, or staff member….

If I recall correctly, this one was taken out on the floor. I could be wrong about that. The point is, the republican majority crammed a lot of stuff into a Senate bill and then didn’t allow the Democratic minority to debate it.

….(5) “Legislative lobbyist”, any natural person who acts for the purpose of attempting to influence the taking, passage, amendment, delay or defeat of any official action on any bill, resolution, amendment, nomination, appointment, report or any other action or any other matter pending or proposed in a legislative committee in either house of the general assembly, or in any matter which may be the subject of action by the general assembly and in connection with such activity, meets the requirements of any one or more of the following:…

(d) Attempts to influence any elected official other than an elected official who represents the legislative district where the person resides. This paragraph shall not be construed to apply to any person who is testifying before any legislative, executive, or

128 administrative committee; or
….

[emphasis in original]

That reads to me if you contact anyone other than your specific representative you’re considered a “legislative lobbysist”. So, if a teacher wants to talk to the chair of an education committee about a bill on education and that chair is not their representative, the teacher is a lobbyist under the bill? That ain’t right.

…105.479. No member of the general assembly, statewide official, or any person acting at the request of a member or statewide official or on the member’s or statewide official’s behalf, shall accept or receive any cumulative expenditures from a lobbyist in excess of two thousand five hundred dollars…

…Any item having a value of less than ten dollars shall not be included in the cumulative determination…

A $2,5000.00 limit on gifts from lobbyists. That’s nice to know.

“…Any item having a value of less than ten dollars shall not be included in the cumulative d
etermination…”
Unlimited free lunches!

…115.427. 1 [Before receiving a ballot, voters] Persons seeking to vote in a public election shall establish their identity and eligibility to vote at the polling place by presenting a form of personal identification to election officials. [“Personal identification” shall mean only] No form of personal identification other than the forms listed in this section shall be accepted to establish a voter’s qualifications to vote….

[emphasis in original]

Ah, a voter turnout suppression clause.

Section 3. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, where state or federal law requires elections or designations or authorizations of employee representation, the right of individuals to vote by secret ballot shall be guaranteed….

[emphasis in original]

Ah, employee free choice is not a priority of the republican majority. And how did Representative Mike McGhee (r-122) vote on this bill?:

On motion of Representative Jones (89), HCS#2 SB 844 was adopted by the following vote:

AYES: 087

McGhee

You think organized labor is aware of this?

…Section 4. 1. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, where mandatory dues are collected for membership in any labor organization as defined in section 130.111, a member of such organization shall be entitled to designate that such member’s dues shall not be used for any political activity whatsoever, including but not limited to advocating for the election of an individual candidate for public office or the promotion of a ballot measure. The designation opting out of the use of dues for political activities shall be clearly and conspicuously placed on the requisite card or form for the payment of dues, or shall be provided as a separate document to each member before payment of such member’s dues….

How come there’s no provision requiring corporations to allow stockholders to opt out in the same fashion? Just asking.

Oh, brother, there’s even tenther drivel in the bill:

…Section 5. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 27.060 or any other provision to the contrary, the governor, lieutenant governor, president pro tempore of the senate, speaker of the house, and speaker pro tempore of the house may institute, in the name and on the behalf of the state, any proceeding in law or in equity requisite or necessary to protect the natural or constitutional rights of persons within the state, and may appear or defend in any proceeding or tribunal the natural or constitutional rights of such persons….

And that, folks, is the republican majority in the Missouri General Assembly at work.