Republican senators petty, not to mention hypocritical

‘Call the Tune’ by Mike Anthony

By Mike Anthony

All 24 of Missouri’s Republican senators kicked off the 2016 legislative session last week by thumbing their noses at the First Amendment.

On Jan. 6 — the first day of the legislative session — Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, introduced a resolution to move reporters from the Senate floor and relegate them to an upstairs gallery overlooking the Senate, effective March 29.

The next day, Richard’s resolution was approved by a 26-4 vote — all 24 Republicans and two Democrats.

While the Republican senators’ vote is disappointing, we can’t say we’re all that surprised.

But we definitely were surprised by the votes of the two Democrats supporting the resolution — Sen. Joseph Keaveny of St. Louis and Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal of University City. Particularly disturbing is the vote by Chappelle-Nadal, supposedly a strong believer in the First Amendment — apparently for her, but not the press.

We’re pleased to report that Sen. Scott Sifton, D-Affton, was one of the four Democrats voting against the resolution. Sen. Jill Schupp of Creve Coeur, Sen. Jason Holsman of Kansas City and Sen. Jamilah Nasheed of St. Louis joined Sifton in opposing the measure.

Two other Democrats, Gina Walsh of St. Louis and Kiki Curls of Kansas City, were not present.

The irony of the Senate vote was not lost on Sifton. He told the Call’s Gloria Lloyd that when the session started, “… The first thing we do in session is read the Bill of Rights. Then the first vote we take in session is this. Does anybody notice the irony in this juxtapositioning?”

While Sifton found the vote “disappointing,” he also said, “I’ll try to make myself as available as I can, given that we won’t be on the same floor.”

Richard was motivated by a couple of times a reporter had tweeted conversations that senators had expected to be private, according to published reports. If that’s truly the case, how petty — and hypocritical to boot.

While stomping on the First Amendment rights of the press, 18 of the Senate’s Republicans also found the time last week to join 100 of the 116 House Republicans in issuing a statement calling for the dismissal of the University of Missouri professor, Melissa Click, who attempted to block news coverage of the protests against the MU president last fall.

Apparently, Senate Republicans subscribe to the philosophy of do as I say — not as I do.