Editorials

Gov. Mike Parson ignores actual issues, calls special session to help used car dealers

In Missouri, kids are being shot to death with alarming frequency. Thousands of young people are inexplicably losing health care coverage. Students are returning to schools, unprotected from mayhem.

So it’s a good thing Gov. Mike Parson has called a September special legislative session to take up sales taxes on used cars.

Wait. What?

That’s correct. Parson has called lawmakers into session Sept. 9 to decide if car buyers can get a sales tax credit for more than one vehicle at a time.

This is apparently an issue in some parts of rural Missouri. Because of a state Supreme Court ruling, hundreds of Missourians, including a few car dealers, are worried about losing a multiple-vehicle sales tax credit.

Meanwhile, millions of Missourians who are worried about gun violence or substandard health care will have to wait.

The lack of focus on consequential, urgent issues is ridiculous. Parson hasn’t called a special session; he’s called a session for special interests.

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway wants lawmakers to take up state funding to provide armed resource officers in every school. In a tweet, state Sen. Bob Onder said the legislature should use the special session to give voters another crack at Clean Missouri’s ethics and election reforms.

We don’t support armed guards in every school, and there’s no need to repeal any parts of Clean Missouri. But both are serious issues that deserve a serious debate, which is what special sessions should be about — not handouts to car dealers.

Victims of gun violence can’t wait. Children losing health care need help now.

Some lawmakers say those issues, and others like them, are too complicated for a special session. They’re wrong. A special session is precisely the place to take up challenges such as guns and Medicaid reform.

In a regular session, hundreds of topics are on the table, making it difficult for legislators to find compromise on complex issues. A special session, on the other hand, gives legislators time and space to explore answers to tough problems.

Imagine a special session limited to, say, gun violence. A serious debate over solutions for the bloodshed would be clarifying and is long overdue. It would certainly be worth the cost of a special session.

The Missouri Constitution limits special sessions to topics raised by the governor. Interestingly, though, Parson’s recent proclamation contains a wild card: lawmakers can address “such additional and other matters as may be recommended by the governor” during the meeting.

The agenda is wide open, and up to Gov. Parson. Failure to address these issues is on him.

He should take the opportunity to consider that fact. Here in Kansas City, governor, kids are being buried. It’s a crisis. Car dealers can wait.

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