When copying someone else’s work to pass off as your own, it’s best to clean up the typos before publication.
The Missouri General Assembly learned that the hard way this week, as Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed one of its bills, citing “a significant drafting error.”
The error turned out to be an incorrect number. The bill, which unnecessarily requires criminal background checks for people who work or volunteer as “navigators” to help people enroll in the new health insurance exchanges, refers to Public Law 92-554. But that is a federal statute dealing with alcohol abuse. The correct reference would be Public Law 92-544, which pertains to background checks.
With unconcealed enjoyment, the Democratic governor noted in his veto message that “model legislation” from the American Legislative Exchange Council contains the same error.
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“It appears that in copying and pasting from the ALEC model act, the General Assembly failed to correct this incorrect reference...,” Nixon wrote.
Zinger alert. The GOP-dominated legislature has been accused of taking its marching orders from the exchange council, which wines and dines mostly Republican state lawmakers in its quest to promote corporate agendas. The verbatim language of the bill, error and all, reinforces that notion.
For good measure, Nixon noted in a footnote that while some legislatures corrected the error, other states have “simply parroted the incorrect reference from the ALEC model act.” Kansas, for example. Its legislature included the error in a bill which passed the Senate but didn’t have time to clear the House.
These bills are another petty GOP attempt to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. Republicans claim background checks are needed to protect citizens who share financial information. But similar checks aren’t required for tax preparers, who see as much or more than the navigators. Many navigators work as volunteers, and shouldn’t be subjected to the hassle and expense of undergoing criminal background checks.
Even without a drafting error, these copycat bills are veto material.