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Our Opinion: Jayhawk plates, school bus ads deplete time, dilute focus

Our Opinion: Jayhawk plates, school bus ads deplete time, dilute focus

May 17th, 2012 in News

As the legislative session nears Friday adjournment, Missouri lawmakers Tuesday dealt with Kansas Jayhawk specialty license plates and advertising on school buses.

Although these were not the only issues receiving attention, we agree with those readers who criticized the time devoted to trivial topics at this late date.

The license-plate debate included a bizarre effort to legislate perpetuation of a sports rivalry.

The House on Tuesday approved an amendment by Rep. Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, permitting only Missouri schools to be featured on Missouri license plates, unless otherwise allowed by lawmakers.

Webber added, however, he would seek to amend or repeal the amendment if Kansas challenges Missouri to a football or basketball game next year.

The storied rivalry between the two schools may end because Missouri has left the Big 12 Conference for the Southeastern Conference (SEC).

Left unresolved is how Webber's amendment will affect a Missouri specialty license plate touting Pittsburg State University, located in southeastern Kansas.

Meanwhile, a bill to permit public school districts to sell advertising space on buses stalled in the Senate Education Committee, where its chairman, Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, declared it dead for the session.

Recall, however, the quotation from Senate Floor Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, who said: "When I die, I want to die on the Senate floor, because nothing's ever "dead' on the Senate floor."

We consider advertising on buses on a par with selling corporate naming rights for elementary schools or designating an official corporate sponsor of chemistry class.

Pearce objected to the bill on the grounds that ads on the exterior of buses would distract other drivers and jeopardize student safety.

We credit another opponent, Sen. Kurt Schaefer, D-Columbia, with stronger reasoning. He feared the bill's restrictions on ad content might lead to lawsuits based on freedom of speech.

The deadline looms. These final days of the session are a time to focus on the people's issues, not personal agendas.