Is a new law’s aim to punish the Missouri State Highway Patrol for buying an expensive airplane without getting permission from lawmakers? Or was the lawmakers’ intent to punish Gov. Jay Nixon?
Unsigned by the governor, the law will be in force Aug. 28. It will require the Patrol to obtain legislative approval before spending more than $100,000 from a special state fund on any vehicle. There aren’t many, if any, Patrol vehicles that cost $100,000 to our knowledge. Is the measure just a message rather than direct punishment?
Lawmakers complained they were not told in advance about the Patrol’s purchase of a new $5.6 million airplane. The governor has flown on the Patrol’s aircraft, with a major example being after a tornado destroyed a large part of Joplin. He also used it on other occasions for visits around the state, such as flying here for industrial groundbreaking and ribbon-cutting events. Missourians like to see their governor and he is invited to many events. Like other governors before him, he uses a state aircraft to save time and make as many visits as possible.
Are these visits political? Some may qualify for that but others are part of the duties of a governor. A governor’s duties often are termed political. Let’s face it, anytime a governor opens his mouth, makes a visit, walks down a street, travels in a state aircraft, to some people, including lawmakers, he’s being political.
Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon allowed the measure to become law by not signing it before the legal deadline. We must remember both the Missouri House and Senate are controlled by Republicans. Let’s keep score of how many vehicle-purchases by the Patrol are blocked by the new law! It is just a message.