Our Opinion: Extract poison pill before enacting tax cut bill

News Tribune editorial

Knowingly enacting a flawed law is never a good idea.

Some Republican lawmakers and business leaders, however, are encouraging Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon to do just that.

The plea to sign the bill and let lawmakers fix it later comes after Nixon’s staff found a serious glitch while reviewing tax-cut legislation championed by the Republican majority. The bill was approved during the recent legislative session.

An unintended consequence in enacting the tax cut could result in a more than $200 million tax hike on prescription medications.

Republicans and supporters in the business community were dumbfounded by the revelation announced by Nixon, who is not a fan of the proposal.

Although the GOP admitted repealing the prescription drug exemption was not intended, they assigned blame for the error not to themselves, but to the governor.

Republican leaders went so far as to accuse Nixon’s Department of Revenue of suggesting the tainted language.

“This is as much the governor’s slip up or mishap,” said Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit, a supporter of the tax cut bill.

Added House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka: “The governor really jumped the shark hard on this one. It’s pretty much his fault.”

We have no way of knowing whether Nixon or his administration slipped this poison pill into the legislation. If such foul play occurred, it does not exonerate Republicans who should know what they are proposing and passing.

Finger pointing aside, the poison pill remains.

And suggestions that lawmakers will surgically extract it later are not reassuring.

All too often, we have observed a popular proposal on a projected smooth trajectory encounter all manner of turbulence in the legislative process.

The process subjects proposed laws to the scrutiny of: lawmakers; their staffs and constituents; lobbyists; and the governor and administration.

It is a process designed to catch and eliminate errors before a law is enacted, not after.

The proper course of action is clear.

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