Our Opinion: Amid inaction, a motion to adjourn
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
The state Senate adjourned Tuesday, foreclosing any possibility of restarting stalled negotiations with the House, which remains in session.
Lawmakers leave behind a profound lack of accomplishments.
The special session spanned seven weeks and, as of last week, cost taxpayers upward of $279,000.
The only two items approved during the session already have been signed by Gov. Jay Nixon.
One was a “Facebook fix” allowing school districts to adopt policies regarding educators’ use of social media to communicate with students. Although Nixon signed the bill, the fix deviated from his request to repeal the social media provision in an existing law now being challenged in court.
Also signed by the governor was the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act, which creates a fund to offer incentives for development and expansion of science-based businesses.
The law, however, contained a provision preventing it from becoming effective in the absence of a more comprehensive economic development bill. A legal challenge based on the provision is likely.
The special session was called by the governor after Republican legislative leaders held a series of news conferences touting a deal on economic development.
The boast proved premature and the bill — the centerpiece of the special session — was left on the chamber’s cutting-room floor when senators adjourned.
Another key failure was inability to change the date for the 2012 presidential primary to satisfy the Republican National Committee and avoid punitive consequences.
As a result, although the costly primary will be held in February, GOP delegates will be selected not by the public vote, but by the caucus system.
Other failures include measures to: provide property tax relief for tornado-devastated Joplin businesses; grant St. Louis greater authority over its police force; and create an amnesty period encouraging overdue taxpayers to settle their debt to the state.
The protracted stalemate and prospect of failure prompted us to write last week in this forum: “Perhaps this debacle will end the nearly routine practice of reconvening to reconsider unfinished business.”
The regular legislative session spans from January until May — ample time for our elected representatives to do their jobs.