Our Opinion: A session haunted by past and future
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Ghosts of politics past and future will haunt the legislative session that begins today.
Gloom from the special session will cloud present proceedings. The special session — from September to November — was not only unproductive, it was counter-productive.
As you may recall, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon called the special session after Republican legislative leaders held a fly-around series of press conferences announcing an agreement had been reached on expansive economic development incentives.
The gathering, however, proved anything but agreeable, with the deal progressively unraveling, leaving legislative credibility in tatters.
GOP architects of the collapsed agreement now have lowered their sights and will focus on piecemeal, business-friendly legislation designed to boost hiring.
Initiatives by the Republican majority likely will be buffeted not only by past failures, but by swelling partisanship in this election year.
Democratic objections may become more vociferous, as the countdown begins toward the August primary and November elections for both lawmakers and a number of statewide elected officials.
The opening days of a legislative session include many ceremonial activities. Legislative leaders will outline agendas, welcoming receptions will be held, the governor will host the annual prayer breakfast.
The governor’s annual State of the State address typically is followed by a combination of partisan bickering and roll-up-the-sleeves committee work. The varying degrees of each serve as an early indicator of the legislative temperament.
Expectations of accomplishments this session are low. The special session debacle appears to have dampened proposed legislation.
No matter, some observers will respond.
The legislature’s only constitutional duty is to pass a budget for the state business year that begins July 1.
But, with state revenues still predicted to be tight, contentious budget battles loom as a distinct possibility.
Each legislative session is unique. But, to adapt a remark from George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” this session may be more unique than others.