What are they drinking?
Bad ideas never die in our state legislatures. They just come back the next year in a slightly altered form.
Take Rep. Rick Brattins bill in Missouri that would allow students to opt out of science classes when evolution is taught. Thats only a step back from bills that Brattin, a Harrisonville Republican, has put forth the last two years demanding that creationism receive equal instruction time with evolution.
Fortunately, legislative leaders from Brattins party dont seem too eager to immerse Missouri in the evolution wars.
In Kansas, a committee has actually scheduled a hearing on a bill from last year that ludicrously would require communities to inform citizens of the myth that fluoride in the water supply lowers IQ in children if ingested. (It doesnt, but you have to wonder whats in the water supply of the people backing that bizarre piece of legislation.)
And then theres the resolution being considered in Kansas that haughtily and falsely denies any connection between human-generated carbon dioxide emissions and climate change, and urges the U.S. Congress to oppose President Barack Obamas climate action plan.
These measures may not ever amount to much, but word gets around. And states that are trying to stay relevant economically really dont need to be tagged as anti-science. Somebody ideally voters should tell the sponsors of these bills to give it a rest.
Impeaching the wrong Nixon
Several Republican House members moved this week to impeach Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat.
Rep. Nick Marshall of Parkville filed articles of impeachment because he objects to an executive order by Nixon allowing same-sex couples who marry legally in other states to file joint tax returns in Missouri.
Seven colleagues jumped on as co-sponsors, including Mike Moon of Ash Grove, who says he also wants to impeach Nixon because he thinks the governor is too slow to call special elections to fill legislative vacancies.
The quixotic impeachment articles were filed about the same time the state Senate blocked Nixons appointment of Kansas City lawyer Tim Dollar to the state Conservation Commission, for no good reason except Republicans are at odds with the governor. They think, with some justification, that Nixon is arbitrary and power hungry.
Its a two-way street, of course. Nixon has never worked well with the GOP-controlled legislature and lately he seems to have stopped trying. But the Republicans havent shown much cooperation either, and their revenge tactics come off as frivolous and mean-spirited.
Wedding bell blues
Same-sex marriage is banned in the Kansas Constitution. But conservative lawmakers, worried about possible court rulings invalidating state gay marriage prohibitions, are proposing precautionary action.
A House committee this week approved a bill that says individuals and businesses with sincerely held religious beliefs cannot be required by any governmental entity to provide services, facilities, products or employment benefits to same-sex couples.
Lawmakers at first said they meant the legislation to apply to services such as wedding venues and florists. That in itself is objectionable; attitudes toward gay marriage are changing rapidly, and the state should not be instrumental in telling same-sex couples they cant access the same services and amenities as other Kansans. Besides being wrong, its bad for business.
But worse, the measure also allows state and local government employees to decline to provide certain services to gays and lesbians, citing religious beliefs. Now were talking about state-sanctioned denial of essential services, and a potential clash with federal civil rights laws and court decisions.
These sorts of conscience provisions seem destined to become big issues in conservative legislatures as court rulings increasingly favor gay marriage. It would be gratifying to see lawmakers vote them down. But a more realistic hope in Kansas is that citizens will ultimately send the message that unions between people who love each other and happen to be of the same sex are not a concern.