This will be remembered as the week that “manly firmness” leaped from the script of the Declaration of Independence into a Missouri legislative resolution.
The wording worked just fine back in 1776 when the founders commended the citizens for opposing the tyranny of King George III.
But in a resolution directing Missouri’s congressional delegation, which includes three women, to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Mike Moon’s usage provoked hilarity.
This was also the week that comedian Jon Stewart, on “The Daily Show,” pilloried Gov. Sam Brownback’s vision of Kansas as “no place like homophobia.” That hurts, but Brownback earned the ridicule by inexplicably rescinding job protections for state employees who are gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual.
In other news:
Child welfare experts picked apart Sen. Forrest Knox’s idea of creating an elite category of foster parents who could earn special privileges, such as permission to home-school children. Qualifying couples would have to be heterosexual, faithfully married for at least seven years, abstain from tobacco and alcohol, and have one stay-at-home parent.
Knox and his wife are long-time foster parents. For that they should be commended. But that doesn’t mean families that look different than his can’t do a good job caring for children. Or that the state should automatically assume children are safe if placed with a family that fits Knox’s definition of “normal.”
Knox, a Republican from Altoona, said he thinks children do best in a “Leave it to Beaver” kind of household. Unfortunately, Ward Cleaver smoked in that 1950’s sitcom, and was known to keep a bottle of brandy in the house. So even the Cleavers wouldn’t qualify as one of Knox’s special families.
Knox is right that Kansas doesn’t have enough high quality foster homes. That can be corrected through careful selection, training and supervision of parents, as well as better compensation. Knox ought to work toward those goals.
Advantage, Mr. Grissom
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach told a Topeka television station last year that he forwarded cases of suspected voter fraud to U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom, who has said voter fraud doesn’t appear to be a problem in Kansas.
Kobach said Grissom “doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
The Associated Press smartly sent an open records request to Grissom, who is based in Kansas.
Grissom produced a letter he sent to Kobach on Nov. 6.
“Going forward, if your office determines there has been an act of voter fraud please forward the matter to me for investigation and prosecution,” Grissom wrote. “Until then, so we can avoid misstatements of facts for the future, for the record, we have received no voter fraud cases from your office in over four and a half years.”
Kobach’s rather weak response to The AP was that he prefers to send suspected voter fraud cases to county attorneys rather than to Grissom, though he’s not satisfied with their response either, and he really wants his office to be empowered to prosecute voter fraud.
Given Kobach’s penchant for overreach and untruthfulness, the Kansas Legislature would make a very big mistake by giving him that authority.
Highs and lows
It doesn’t happen often, but the Missouri Senate granted unanimous approval to a bill this week.
For good reason. The bill would prevent Missouri cities from collecting more than 20 percent of their general revenue from traffic fines. Punitive traffic enforcement against low-income citizens was one of the issues that came to light in the season of unrest that began when a police officer shot a black teenager in Ferguson.
In a much more contentious vote, the House passed a “right to work” bill that would prevent unions from collecting fees from non-members, even though those workers benefit from union bargaining.
The vote was 92 to 66, short of the 109 votes needed to overturn an almost certain veto by Gov. Jay Nixon. Right to work laws are a badge of honor for GOP-controlled legislatures. An attempt to achieve it is unfortunately an annual exercise in Missouri, even though there is scant evidence to suggest that undercutting unions would result in a jobs boom, as supporters contend.