The Buzz

TheChat: Emanuel Cleaver expects criminal justice reform

FYI: One year from today, a new president takes the oath of office.

▪ “People have watched for the last year or so, the goings on in various cities around the country, and they have been stunned and shocked at what they’ve seen to the degree that I think we will get some great criminal justice reform this year.” — Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, a Kansas City Democrat.

Cleaver says there’s bipartisan support for changes that would include the appointment of a special prosecutor when a grand jury considers indicting a police officer. Another possible change: giving judges more flexibility when it comes to sentencing non-violent drug offenders. (link via

▪ “I felt a little bit like we were listening to Goldilocks out there.” — Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson responding to Democratic complaints that ethics bills passed so far don’t go far enough.

Richardson reminded Democrats that it’s not often that anybody gets exactly what they want. He also said Republicans plan to work more bills in the days ahead, including one dealing with lobbyist gifts. Cleaning up state government has emerged as the hot early issue in the 2016 session.

▪ “I’m not going to micro-manage the university.” — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on whether embattled MU journalism prof Melissa Click should be fired for her actions during student protests last year.

Nixon said he personally thought Click’s behavior was unacceptable, but he’s not going to tell university administrators what to do. Meantime, University of Missouri Curator David Steelman and more than 100 state lawmakers have called for her ouster.

▪ “We have a statutory contingency fund — the 7.5 percent — which we throw out any time it’s inconvenient. So unless we put this in the constitution, I don’t think it works.” — Kansas state Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat, on the need to establish a rainy day fund for state government.

Kelly’s point is that unless the state constitution requires such a fund, it won’t happen. Money is too tight these days to create an emergency account.