Our Opinion: A plane example of micro-management

Is the Missouri Legislature trying to get its pictures in the dictionary under the definition for micro-management?

That might explain the motivation for a state law that requires the Missouri Highway Patrol to seek legislative permission to buy a vehicle that costs more than $100,000.

The measure was prompted not by concerns the agency might outfit its troopers with Lamborghinis. Instead, it is a reaction to controversy in January surrounding the patrol’s purchase of a new $5.6 million airplane.

News of the purchase sent lawmakers into a bit of snit. The patrol superintendent and acting director of Office of Administration (OA) were subjected to legislative interrogation. In addition, lawmakers delayed confirmation for the interim OA chief to have the job on a permanent basis.

Despite the brouhaha, the patrol’s purchase and OA’s affirmation met all requirements and clearly were authorized.

Some lawmakers, however, maintained the purchase reflected a lack of good judgment. And they were uncomfortable facing constituent questions about whether a new plane was more important than money for education, mental health and other social services.

To avoid future discomfort, the House on Tuesday voted 112-42 to impose the spending limit. House action follows earlier Senate approval, and the bill now advances to Gov. Jay Nixon.

Proponents, largely Republicans, contend the bill fosters transparency and fiscal responsibility. Opponents, largely Democrats, criticize the measure as GOP retribution.

Both are correct.

The limitation is not a bad idea. It’s origin, however, may be.

Some lawmakers are predisposed to show who’s in charge.

Excessive control is micro-management, which is not a legislator’s job.

In public life — not only for lawmakers, but for all government officials, elected and appointed — a little humility goes a long way.

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