Thursday morning started as any ordinary day in the House. I went to the my 8:00 a.m. meeting of the Special Committee on Government Accountability and Ethics Reform. We have worked all session to do public hearings on more than a dozen "ethics reform" bills that were filed this year. After that we worked weeks on combining them into a bill that the entire committee 7 Rs and 5 Ds, including me, all signed. That is the bill that we sent forward last week that was kicked back from the Rules committee. Following that about 60 House members, Democrats and Republicans, signed a petition to take the bill directly to the floor. Now the irony of using this tactic is that the last time it was used was on an adult entertainment bill. You may recall that is the topic that caused the grand jury investigation that triggered the current call for reform. In that case also Rs, including the current Floor Leader, signed the petition. That bill was promptly debated. But this year the Floor Leader and Speaker say that the petition "killed the bill." They expressed outrage that House members would actually demand public debate.
So, at 8:00 a.m. Thursday, while the real ethics committee was meeting across the hall a little known committee called "General Laws" passed a 66 page sham ethics bill in ten minutes without debate or notice to anyone. That bill then had to clear the Rules Committee to go the the Floor. It was put on the 9:00 a.m. agenda! I also serve on that committee. Rules passed it out immediately and sent it to the Floor. Now our rules say that the body has a full day to review legislation. But that did not slow that train. They simply suspended the rules on a straight party line vote of course and went right on. The debate on the floor was not truly debate. Not one Democrat was recognized to offer any amendments. What they did was call on experienced Rs who then "inquired of" Dems who were not on the ethics committee. As you may imagine neither I nor anyone on the real ethics committee was called on even for this little charade. Then debate was closed and the bill passed on a straight party line vote 88-71.
What is truly terrible about this travesty is that the Republicans believe that the public will not pay any attention to this debacle. Since it was a straight party line vote they are depending that the public will simply ignore it as partisan bickering and true ethics reform will not be necessary.
As to the contents of this so called ethics bill it is truly pathetic. Here is what the Post Dispatch says:
"It is an "ethics bill"repackaged as a 66-page long wingnut wish list, a union-busting, constitutionally dubious, ethically suspicious, voter-disenfranchising, power-grabbing waste of paper and ink."
Here is what the KC Star says
The Missouri House on Thursday passed a watered-down and politically divisive version of ethics reform legislation, advancing it to the Senate but eroding what was once strong bipartisan support for reform.
Despite months of Republican and Democratic cooperation on the basic thrust of the legislation, the final vote fell strictly along party lines, with 88 Republicans voting yes and 71 Democrats voting no."
Sunday, May 09, 2010
Burnett: Ethics reform is dead
Ethics reform is dead for 2010 in Missouri, Rep. John Burnett, D-Kansas City writes in his latest report: