The Buzz

TheChat: Missouri House looks at new standards for its intern program


Good morning.

▪ “We’re going to have some electronic communications standards, restrictions and protocols.” — Missouri state Rep. Kevin Engler, a Republican, outlining a new House intern policy.

The changes come in the wake of a pair of troubling news stories involving former House Speaker John Diehl and outgoing state Sen. Paul LeVota of Independence. The House’s proposed policy includes an improved ombudsman program to handle complaints and a broader orientation program, Engler said. Democrats are now reviewing the proposed policy before it’s made public.

▪ “The states have no good reasons to believe that tax cuts will bring the desired manna.” — William Gale, a tax policy expert at The Brookings Institution, on his belief that state income tax cuts, like the ones in Kansas, are a bad idea.

Gale added this about the state: “Yet (lawmakers) continue to erode their tax bases in the name of business growth during an era in which few states can afford to cut critical services ranging from education to infrastructure repair. Some ideas live on and on, no matter how much evidence accumulates against them. States that follow them do so at their own peril.”

▪  “He's somebody you can work with. If he reaches an agreement with you, he will stick to that agreement. ... He will take arrows from his own side to hold up his end of the bargain. We need more of that in government.” — Missouri state Sen. Scott Sifton, a Democrat, speaking about outgoing Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, a Republican.

Dempsey, who is stepping down to pursue a job in the private sector, is receiving praise from both Democrats and Republicans these days for his work in the General Assembly. The fact the praise is bipartisan speaks volumes about Dempsey. (link courtesy of

▪ “I begged the federal government to participate in our drug court programs, and they didn’t want to hear a word about it.” — Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill saying it’s time for Washington to rethink who spends time in prison in this country.

At a committee hearing Tuesday, the Democrat urged Congress to consider programs like the Jackson County drug court, which provides treatment rather than incarceration for addicts facing non-violent drug offenses. That, she said, saved millions of dollars. She pointed out that 95 percent of prisoners in federal prisons are serving time for non-violent offenses and that lawmakers should look at shortening sentences for elderly, non-violent offenders who traditionally have low recidivism rates.