Wedding bell blues, continued
The Kansas House caused a great deal of damage this week with its approval of a bill sanctioning discrimination against same-sex couples.
House Bill 2453, which the House passed by a 72-49 vote, would make it possible for Kansans to cite religious belief as an excuse to deny services to gay and lesbian persons. So much for America as a nation where all citizens are treated equally under the law. Kansas House members seek to use religion as a vehicle for bigotry.
The consenting representatives misread the nations temperament, however. News of their aye vote on Wednesday sparked a cyber wildfire, bringing contempt from near and far. By Thursday, more astute leaders were in damage control mode. Senate President Susan Wagle announced that the majority of Republicans in the Senate wont support the bill as written. That amounts to a death knell for the bill in its current form.
As events unfolded, it became clear the poorly drafted House Bill 2453 lends itself to a myriad of interpretations.
Its main sponsor, Charles Macheers, a Shawnee Republican, said it applied only to marriage-related functions, like providing cakes, venues and flowers. Wagle read the language as possibly allowing state workers to refuse any service, including public safety, to a same-sex couple.
Clearly, this is defective legislation that does nothing to boost confidence in the Houses ability to draft laws.
Conservative lawmakers in the Senate and House are now trying to figure out whether there is a way to salvage any part of the bill, which was prompted by the prospect that courts may overturn Kansas ban on gay marriage, as they have in other states.
Talk about putting lipstick on a pig. This bill was conceived in malice, and no amount of dress-up will change that reality.
House Bill 2453 underestimates Kansans pragmatism. Even in its most conservative reaches, people understand that the sky wont fall if a bakery is asked to supply a cake for a same-sex wedding. In fact, it might be good for business.
Over in Missouri, lawmakers are once again busy trying to pass unconstitutional legislation that would nullify federal gun laws.
Its a sure bet they didnt expect to incur the wrath of the National Rifle Association in the process, but thats what happened.
No sooner had GOP Sen. Brian Nieves bill gained initial Senate approval then the NRA blasted it. The powerful group objects to an amendment by Democratic Sen. Jamilah Nasheed that requires gun owners to report a stolen firearm within three days.
That, said the NRA, amounts to mandatory gun registration.
Say what? Pro-gun lawmakers spent much of last session in high dudgeon after they learned that motor vehicle offices had begun scanning concealed carry licenses along with other documents used to obtain a drivers license. Never would Missouri allow a gun registry, they vowed.
Its a toss-up as to which group is more mistaken legislators for thinking they dont have to heed U.S. law or the NRA for contorting a sensible public safety amendment into a bogus accusation.
The NRA succeeded in making temporary allies out of Nieves and Nasheed, who usually are at polar opposites on the political spectrum. But the chances of Nasheeds amendment staying in the bill? Not a shot.
Art of the deal
Just when you thought compromise was a lost art, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced a possible deal on tax cuts.
The Democratic governor said hed been talking with GOP lawmakers about a plan that would authorize a broad-based income tax cut in exchange for tighter limits on some of Missouris runaway tax credit programs.
Some GOP lawmakers quickly threw cold water over Nixons hopeful talk, saying the plan isnt a real tax cut.
But you never know. Nixon won last years round on tax cuts. Republicans will have to either work with him or around him this year.