The Buzz

Nixon, in KC, calls for sweeping ethics reform

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon once again called for sweeping ethics reform in Missouri to repair what he called some of the weakest campaign laws in the nation.

“Anytime that Washington D.C. has rules that are more transparent and accountable than we’ve got here in Missouri, you know you have a problem,” the governor said at Kansas City’s Union Station.

As he has in past years, the governor called for strict campaign donation limits to replace the unlimited donation law now in place, although he didn’t propose what those limits should be.

He also called for a halt to transfers between campaign committees, a move often used to disguise the source of contributions. Nixon also said he wanted to stop lawmakers from immediately becoming lobbyists once they leave office.

“It’s time that the people’s wishes were finally and permanently reflected in the laws passed by their elected representatives in a reform package that’s worthy of that name,” he said.

Unaddressed at the news conference was the attitude of Republican House leaders who have proven to be the biggest hurdle to reform in recent years.

Nixon also:

• Again said he hopes lawmakers address a student transfer law that requires KCMO schools to pay tuition and transportation costs of students who seek to transfer out of the district because of its unaccredited status.

• Said he hopes to have the name of the KC-area representative for the state Board of Education by the time lawmakers return to Jefferson City in January. The seat has gone vacant for a year.

• Insisted that a major incentive bill the General Assembly passed this month to lure a new Boeing production line to the state won’t undermine low-income housing projects around the state. Kansas City Mayor Sly James recently criticized the plan for just that reason, saying he had been misled by the proposal.

• Warned that state Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro “needs to have the confidence and support of our teachers and other educational groups.” He added that it’s important that the State Board of Education “monitor and evaluate” concerns that have been raised over how Nicastro and others have prepared long-range proposal for the unaccredited Kansas City Public Schools.

Nixon did not volunteer his office to conduct any investigation into the matter.