Missouri lawmakers begin their final push to adjournment this week. They have to leave town Friday.
To no one’s surprise, lawmakers passed a right-to-work law. We’ll see if the decision means more jobs for Missourians or less in their paychecks.
Beyond those accomplishments, though, legislators have been mired in a session full of accusations, back-biting and recriminations. And that’s just the Republicans.
We don’t want or expect those lawmakers to sing “Kumbaya” this week. We do hope they’ll get a few things done and leave a few others undone.
First, do no harm.
Quietly, the Missouri Senate seems to have abandoned the effort to stop minimum wage hikes in Kansas City and St. Louis. That commendable non-work should continue until adjournment.
The minimum wage in St. Louis actually rose last week, without causing a collapse in the state’s economy. Kansas City’s minimum wage is scheduled to go up in September, and the legislature should allow it to do so.
The Senate also should abandon efforts to restrict discrimination lawsuits in Missouri and to limit lawsuits against product manufacturers. The proposals would hurt workers and consumers, and both efforts are tainted by clear conflicts of interest.
Efforts to prevent payment of prevailing wages on public projects should also die before adjournment.
Then, approve needed legislation.
Lawmakers have yet to solve the problem with Real ID — the conflict between federal rules that require minimum standards for acceptable identification and the belief that somehow those rules are a threat to personal liberty.
Missouri’s obstinance on this issue will cause no end of headaches. Some federal locations already won’t accept Missouri driver’s licenses as ID. By January, Missourians who want to fly somewhere will need to produce something other than a Missouri license to do so.
This is ludicrous in a state that insists on a photo ID to vote.
We think lawmakers should simply require the state to come into compliance with federal standards. But a reasonable compromise sits on the desk: For those worried that the state ID surrenders too much to the federal government, a non-compliant Missouri ID would be available.
Lawmakers should take the deal and send it to Gov. Eric Greitens. Once it’s on his desk, Greitens should sign it and not wait for an exemption from the federal government.
We’ve heard there may be a special session called if Real ID isn’t figured out by Friday. Wasting that money is entirely unnecessary.
We’d still like to see legislators pass a prescription drug monitoring program for the state. Missouri remains the only state in the country without such a program, exacerbating the opioid crisis sweeping rural areas in particular.
We’re led to believe that chances for such a bill are small. If there’s time, lawmakers should revisit the topic.
Finally, ethics reform.
The cause of limiting the influence of money in Missouri politics was dealt a partial blow Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Ortrie Smith. He upheld the campaign contribution limits approved by voters last November but threw out provisions that prohibit donations from one political action committee to another.
Smith also said labor and business groups are free to make contributions to committees for and against ballot issues.
The opinion muddies the water around ethics reform and campaign contributions. Smith delayed his order, allowing the state to file an appeal. At the same time, opponents of the amendment approved say other legal challenges are possible.
The money infection in Missouri’s politics is deep and dangerous. Political cash and influence-peddling, like rust, continue to spread.
We expect the legislature to finish work on a measure limiting the purchase of gifts by lobbyists. We want lawmakers to go further by requiring dark money committees to reveal their donors.
We know Gov. Greitens’ lax approach to ethics angers senators and members of the House. We sympathize. Greitens talks a good game, but he has provided the legislature with a ready-made excuse to dodge ethics reform again.
Don’t be tempted. Send the governor a bill limiting lobbyists’ influence and taking Missouri politics out of the dark.
There is still a chance the Missouri General Assembly will be able to point to solid accomplishments in its 2017 session. We’ll know for sure Friday.