The current legislative session will go down in history as being like a circus with Gov. Matt Blunt as the ringmaster.
In the past, state lawmakers may have had to return to legislation passed in a prior session to correct any problems that arose.
This particular session is fumbling with passing legislation that has such immediate impact that they had to scramble in the last hours of the current session to try to correct their errors by introducing new substitute bills.
They underestimated the impact of special tax breaks and business subsidies by millions, increased the burden on medical debt and risks to the patient and posed constitutional problems.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce, the Missouri Municipal League, the Missouri Retailers Association and the Missouri Nurses Association voiced their concern over the improper use and abuse of amendments that slipped away from proper review.
I agree with Tim Fischesser of the Missouri Municipal League that there is a high degree of inexperience with the legislators.
I recall when I was a legislator, all amendments were reviewed by paid staff — not lobbyists — for appropriateness to the content of the bill and accepted or rejected before introduction.
This avoided such a situation caused by the recent tacking on of a ticket-scalping change to a bill on manufactured housing. Legalization of lay midwifery — no medical training — was tacked on to an insurance bill.
This procedure of amendment review needs to be reinstated and enforced by the speaker of the house and pro-tem. I would also recommend a line-item veto to give the governor power to remove any damaging provisions since legislators cannot alter a bill already duly passed.
Attempting to race a substitute bill that removes any unproperly reviewed provisions can die on the floor, and debate can impede the progress of other legislation. There may be a “sucker born every minute,” but Missouri taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay their salaries.
Jan Polizzi, RN, MS
Editor’s note: Jan Polizzi is a former state representative and former Mehlville Board of Education member.