Missouri lawmakers seem intent on doing their worst when it comes to guns, abortion and voter ID bills in Jefferson City.
In a nutshell: The Republican-dominated General Assembly wants to make it easier to carry a firearm in the state, harder if not impossible to get an abortion and more difficult to vote.
That’s an A+ rating right there, using the ultraconservative playbook.
Unfortunately, legislators deserve a far lower grade from Missourians by taking things too far in all three cases.
Many House and Senate members are endangering the state’s residents when it comes to guns, thumbing their nose at federal law that protects a woman’s right to an abortion and trampling on the ability to vote in the Show-Me State.
Locked, loaded and permit-less
In their never-ending quest to help gun manufacturers make a buck, lawmakers are considering several head-shaking plans.
One would allow full-time faculty and workers at public universities to carry firearms on campus because Shakespeare-quoting, gun-toting English literature professors could protect their students during a mass shooting. Or some nonsense like that.
Democratic Rep. Jeremy LaFaver of Kansas City was a lonely voice pointing out the obvious: “This amendment makes children less safe, makes campuses less safe,” which is what many professors and university officials have said while pleading with lawmakers to not approve this action.
Not to be outdone by the gun lovers in the Kansas Legislature, Missouri lawmakers also want to allow people to stroll around with concealed guns without a permit. That basically means they would not be required to have training on how to actually use the weapons that can kill or maim others.
Scrap the ‘personhood’ bill
The Republicans striving to get rid of all abortions in the state — despite the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade allowing them — are pushing a measure to confer personhood on fertilized eggs.
The absurd explanation: These eggs “have a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the enjoyment of the gains of their own industry.”
No, we did not just make that language up. It’s the kind of wackiness the Christian Right espouses in trying to wipe out a legal medical procedure for women, including those who have suffered a rape.
The constitutional amendment also could criminalize some or all birth control and possibly stem cell research and in-vitro fertilization. Good grief.
Eventually, the General Assembly wants Missourians to approve this amendment. Courts will throw it out, of course, but it could be appealed and go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where abortion will suddenly be ruled illegal forever and ever!
At least that’s the pipe dream of strong supporters such as GOP Rep. Mike Moon of Ash Grove, who has blurted out, “The silence of those who want to protect the unborn is similar to the silence of Germans who stood by and allowed Jewish people to be slaughtered by the Nazis.”
Missouri voters should reject this atrocious bill if it gets on the ballot.
Unneeded voter ID changes
Here’s an amazing claim: Ineligible voters are flocking to the polls, swaying the outcomes of elections and derailing democracy as we know it in Missouri.
It’s a completely untrue contention, of course, but it forms the backbone of the claim by GOP Sen. Will Kraus of Lee’s Summit and other supporters of ridiculous attempts to make it harder to vote.
In fact, during the effort to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot, sponsors couldn’t prove that major or even minor voting irregularities or election fraud have tainted elections in the Show-Me State.
The attempt to force up to 200,000 Missourians to spend money and time to get photo IDs to vote was based on the same simple political fact in Missouri as it has been in other states: Republican lawmakers especially hope to disenfranchise more voters who are minorities, students, immigrants or elderly, many of whom tend to support Democratic candidates.
Rather than admit that plain truth, we get the bluster that the sanctity of the ballot box must be protected — when it has never been under siege anyway.
Again, if this amendment makes it to a 2016 ballot, voters will have to show more common sense than Missouri lawmakers have and kill it.
A ray of sunshine?
Lawmakers from both parties should cooperate to enact a state earned income tax credit.
On the federal level, the current earned income tax credit law helps working people by reducing some of their U.S. tax obligations. The law essentially encourages people, especially those with low incomes, to keep working.
Supporters of the concept hope the General Assembly will approve a state-level effort that would offer a credit for some state and local taxes. This is a modest attempt to help people in need keep more of their money, giving them a better shot at moving into the middle class.
Here’s one more piece of good news: The current session has a mandatory end date of 6 p.m. next Friday. Let’s hope the General Assembly can refrain from causing even more destruction before that time comes. Just don’t bet on it.