The Missouri Legislature is capable of serious, thoughtful bipartisan decision-making that effectively addresses real issues. It also is capable of silly, hyper-partisan and shameless exercises of political gamesmanship.
Both were on display this week.
On the thoughtful front, the Missouri General Assembly passed a bill that offers the first comprehensive overhaul to Missouri’s criminal laws in decades. We concur with the bill’s supporters that this update and reorganization of Missouri’s Criminal Code will make us safer, create an even fairer system and make better use of taxpayer funds.
By the way, those supporters include many Missouri prosecutors, victims’ advocates for children, victims’ advocates against domestic and sexual violence, public defenders, defense attorneys and law enforcement, including the Fraternal Order of Police and Missouri Sheriffs’ Association.
The Missouri Legislature held multiple hearings, heard arguments, vetted the issues and acted in a responsive manner. The bill now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon. We hope he signs the bill into law.
On the silly front, a mere 24 hours earlier, the House Judiciary Committee embarrassed themselves when they held a hearing on an effort to impeach Nixon. A group of low-level GOP House members sponsored the impeachment resolution because of an executive order Nixon issued last year that required the Missouri Department of Revenue to accept joint federal income tax returns from same-sex couples who were married legally in other states.
When he announced the executive order, Nixon was careful to point out Missouri’s tax code is tied to the federal government and federal agencies had already determined legally married same-sex couples would be treated as married for tax purposes regardless of residence. He also explained couples filing joint federal returns also must file joint state returns ergo the rationale behind the order.
Nixon’s order riled up some Republican House members who hyped it as a violation of the state’s restrictions on same-sex marriages. It’s not, but that didn’t stop them from filing articles of impeachment on this matter and two other bogus issues.
Even Republicans concede the impeachment effort is going nowhere. It is nothing more than a publicity stunt designed to embarrass the governor.
Thursday’s hearing was a waste of time in the remaining weeks of a legislative session with a number of critical issues still unresolved. It did nothing more than to fuel the disillusion people have toward government.