Recent Missouri editorials
The Kansas City Star, Aug. 26
Gov. Mike Parson ignores actual issues, calls special session to help used car dealers
In Missouri, kids are being shot to death with alarming frequency. Thousands of young people are inexplicably losing health care coverage. Students are returning to schools, unprotected from mayhem.
So it’s a good thing Gov. Mike Parson has called a September special legislative session to take up sales taxes on used cars.
That’s correct. Parson has called lawmakers into session Sept. 9 to decide if car buyers can get a sales tax credit for more than one vehicle at a time.
This is apparently an issue in some parts of rural Missouri. Because of a state Supreme Court ruling, hundreds of Missourians, including a few car dealers, are worried about losing a multiple-vehicle sales tax credit.
Meanwhile, millions of Missourians who are worried about gun violence or substandard health care will have to wait.
The lack of focus on consequential, urgent issues is ridiculous. Parson hasn’t called a special session; he’s called a session for special interests.
Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway wants lawmakers to take up state funding to provide armed resource officers in every school. In a tweet, state Sen. Bob Onder said the legislature should use the special session to give voters another crack at Clean Missouri’s ethics and election reforms.
We don’t support armed guards in every school, and there’s no need to repeal any parts of Clean Missouri. But both are serious issues that deserve a serious debate, which is what special sessions should be about — not handouts to car dealers.
Victims of gun violence can’t wait. Children losing health care need help now.
Some lawmakers say those issues, and others like them, are too complicated for a special session. They’re wrong. A special session is precisely the place to take up challenges such as guns and Medicaid reform.
In a regular session, hundreds of topics are on the table, making it difficult for legislators to find compromise on complex issues. A special session, on the other hand, gives legislators time and space to explore answers to tough problems.
Imagine a special session limited to, say, gun violence. A serious debate over solutions for the bloodshed would be clarifying and is long overdue. It would certainly be worth the cost of a special session.
The Missouri Constitution limits special sessions to topics raised by the governor. Interestingly, though, Parson’s recent proclamation contains a wild card: lawmakers can address “such additional and other matters as may be recommended by the governor” during the meeting.
The agenda is wide open, and up to Gov. Parson. Failure to address these issues is on him.
He should take the opportunity to consider that fact. Here in Kansas City, governor, kids are being buried. It’s a crisis. Car dealers can wait.
The St. Joseph News-Press, Aug. 22
If it’s a drag, just stay away
Drag Queen Story Hour could be seen as the liberal equivalent of the open carry movement, with the protagonists in both cases making a blunt, sometimes uncomfortable statement about a certain point of view. You may not like it, they seem to be telling us, but that’s just too bad.
With Drag Queen Story Hour, it’s a statement about tolerance and acceptance regarding gender identity and the LGBT community. That’s a laudable goal, but what’s pitched as an innocuous read-to-children movement has gotten caught up in the culture wars. St. Joseph is no different.
In hindsight, it was probably only a matter of time before this trend came to our city. At the St. Joseph Public Library’s Downtown branch next month, a drag queen who goes by the name of Vivian Versace will read two books to children, one called “Jack Not Jackie” and the other entitled “Not All Princesses Wear Pink.” Both books focus on young girls who do not accept traditional gender roles.
This is part of a St. Joseph Public Library series called “Celebrating All of Us” that seeks to build compassion and understanding of sometimes overlooked segments of society. Other programs focus on people with disabilities or physical impairments. Library officials vow to represent all members of the public, even it if makes some people uncomfortable.
There is an element of pushing the envelope here, which is why we drew the parallel with open carry, because that movement is equally divisive among some. Libraries, if they want to start a dialogue about gender and possibilities, could bring in a female boxer or a male ballet dancer. They chose a drag queen. Why?
If it is truly to foster acceptance and understanding, then Drag Queen Story Hour is something this community should support.
That said, library officials should take care to make sure this well-intentioned program doesn’t devolve into shock value or the promotion a certain lifestyle. (Promoting is different from celebrating, or simply being comfortable in your own skin). The website dragqueenstoryhour.org strikes a different tone when it talks up “the imagination of play and the gender fluidity in childhood” and the need to give children “glamorous, positive and unabashedly queer role models.”
One of the best things about children is ... they’re children. We’d encourage the organizers of Drag Queen Story Hour to keep the message broad, encourage children not to hate or ridicule and let them figure themselves out on another day, in their own way.
For those who remain opposed to this program, they could consider staying away from the library on this particular day. There is nothing wrong with that. If they’re really worried about bad influences, they should check their children’s phone histories.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Aug. 25
Whatever happens with Missouri’s abortion law, proponent lawmakers should pay
Missouri’s draconian new law to restrict women from exercising their constitutionally protected abortion rights is a step closer to taking effect Wednesday. It will add the state to a small but growing list of jurisdictions in which women’s right to control their own bodies will be newly threatened as tribute to ideological extremism.
Opponents of the law had hoped to put off its implementation pending a referendum challenge, but the short time left to gather signatures made it impossible — in part, they allege, because of foot-dragging by Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, the state’s top election official. A Monday hearing in a pending lawsuit challenging the law on constitutional grounds could still yield a temporary injunction, but there’s no guarantee.
Beyond that, opponents’ efforts now are focused on the only remaining way to protect Missouri women from state Republicans’ radical agenda: By breaking the GOP’s grip on power in next year’s elections.
The law that the Legislature’s GOP majority passed this year and that Republican Gov. Mike Parson signed will ban abortions after eight weeks — a point at which some women don’t even know they’re pregnant. While the law includes exceptions for medical emergencies, it doesn’t contain exceptions for the victims of rape or incest.
It doesn’t come in a vacuum. It’s part of a national effort by Republicans to get Roe v. Wade back before the U.S. Supreme Court. Thanks to a series of events — including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to allow former President Barack Obama to fill a court seat that came open during his term, and President Donald Trump’s 2016 Electoral College win even as he lost the popular vote — the GOP has managed to install a court that’s far right of the American mainstream. Thus, a party that is completely at odds with most Americans on abortion rights may nonetheless be able to press its anti-choice will on the country.
If all goes as Republicans plan, the new laws in Missouri and a few other red states — which are unlikely to pass constitutional muster as currently interpreted — will ultimately get pushed by litigation before a high court that could well change that interpretation, at the cost of the privacy, health and self-determination of millions of women.
This is why it would have been far preferable for the Missouri law to be blocked by referendum instead of relying on Monday’s court hearing, which could ultimately help create such a Supreme Court showdown. With activists admitting now that a referendum isn’t going to happen, the courtroom is the only remaining place to fight.
Whatever the outcome, Missouri voters next year should remember which party declared that half the state’s citizens have less right to self-determination than the other half. Republicans know they are out of step with the public on this — it’s why they fought to prevent the referendum. The only referendum left is the vote.