Editorials

Move past the vacuum in the Missouri legislature after John Diehl’s resignation as House speaker

Revelations that John Diehl had traded sexually charged text messages with a 19-year-old college intern made it impossible for him to lead the House.
Revelations that John Diehl had traded sexually charged text messages with a 19-year-old college intern made it impossible for him to lead the House. The Associated Press

Missouri House Speaker John Diehl did the right thing by resigning his office and his legislative seat.

Revelations that Diehl had traded sexually charged text messages with a 19-year-old college intern made it impossible for him to lead the House. Lawmaking often requires a show of values, and Diehl had yielded the higher ground.

And having worked for years to secure the powerful speaker’s job, it would have been unthinkable for Diehl, a Republican, to remain in the legislature and watch someone else carry out his dream.

Diehl acted badly, both in his flirtation with the much younger woman and in his attempts to mislead a Kansas City Star reporter who confronted him about the texts. Diehl’s obfuscation resulted in the story breaking in the final week of the legislative session, and bringing the House to a standstill at a crucial time.

Republican leaders in the Senate also made bad decisions — of a legislative nature. They should not have breached protocol and brought a contentious anti-union bill up for a vote with other pressing business on the calendar. In protest, Democrats have filibustered business since Wednesday.

Their stonewalling will prevent more bad bills from becoming law, but some crucial legislating remains before the 2015 session ends Friday night.

At the top of the list, the Senate must vote to reauthorize a tax on health care providers. This money is used to draw down federal funds. Failure to renew the tax could cause the state to lose about $3.6 billion for its Medicaid program.

Clearly that can’t be allowed to happen. Leaders of both parties must set aside their wounded feelings for a few remaining hours and work for the good of the state.

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