MOScout Daily Update: Dwindling Pro-Choice Defense? - Crowell on LIHTC - Wolff on Term Limits and more...

Dwindling Pro-Choice Defense in Senate?

Springfield News-Leader reports on the slew of pro-life bills making their way through the legislature.  See it here.

Among the dozens of abortion-related bills filed this year are what could be some of the strictest regulations in the country… Three Missouri lawmakers have filed legislation known as "heartbeat bills" because they prohibit abortions once a fetus's heartbeat can be detected, barring a medical emergency. And if there's one thing sponsors and opponents can agree on, it's that heartbeat bills could drastically cut down on abortions… Republicans are also considering a smaller step and banning abortions after 20 weeks, when they say science shows fetuses can feel pain… Senate Bill 106 and House Bill 127, sponsored by Sen. Denny Hoskins of Warrensburg and Rep. Rocky Miller of Lake Ozark, would require parents and guardians of minors seeking abortions to let "any other parent or guardian" know what's going on before giving their permission…


One observer wonders if the latest batch of pro-life items will find any barriers to quick passage… “I'm doing a quick whip count in my head and I don't think there are enough pro-choicers in the Senate willing to stand on that issue. We know how those things work and you need 5-6 to pose a serious threat of forcing the PQ. Sometimes you can bring in relievers from your party to help but not if you don't have enough core supporters. I'm counting 3 maybe 4. That's not enough to stop much.”

He continues… “In my opinion, the weak pro-choice caucus is a reflection of the MDP moving away from messaging on the issue and groups like NARAL supporting only a narrow group of candidates. It's a shame from my perspective, but the reality is that it just doesn't make a whole lot of political sense to stand up as a pro-choicer in Missouri right now.”

I believe, scanning the Senate Dems caucus, that there would be enough senators for a filibuster. However, I do acknowledge I could be wrong because…

·         Dems remain a super-minority, so there’s not a lot of them in the Senate to begin with.

·         As the observer notes there’s a difference between voting pro-choice, and being willing to partake in an hours long filibuster.  The issue has to be a priority for that.  For example, a senator who primarily worries about labor or tort issues may not want to expend their capital on the choice issue.

·         Likewise, the caucus as a whole may decide they can’t fight everything.

·         For several session the Dems best defense on issues has been to let divisions among Republicans bring legislation to a halt.  That playbook doesn’t work in the pro-life arena where the GOP is unanimous.


Up Ahead

Coming soon though – before the pro-life legislation – are a few topics which will reveal a bit more about the character of this Senate.

Sen. Ed Emery’s tort reform bill and Pro Tem Dave Schatz’ resolution to enable the governor’s bonding plan may see floor time this week.

Both could produce some interesting debating coalitions.  Often Republicans with a legal background balk at tort reform legislation which isn’t nuanced enough.  And Parson’s debt for bridge repair might find some opposition from the Senate’s Conservative Caucus.  We’ll see.


Follow-Up on Term Limits

Former Missouri Supreme Court Justice Mike Wolff penned this op/ed about a decade ago…

Term limits for legislators are like the weather.  Lots of people talk about them, but no one does anything.             

Why not?  Because, conventional wisdom says, the public likes them.  The voters, after all, overwhelmingly approved the constitutional amendment…

Let’s try another tack:  How about giving the public something it likes, perhaps likes even better?  I speak, of course, of local choice…

Here’s a plan:  Ask Missouri’s voters to approve a constitutional amendment that would put the following question to the voters of each district in the election after the districts are created by the decennial redistricting that follows each new census:

“Shall the representative (senator) elected to represent this district be subject to the eight-year term limits specified in this constitution?”

If the voters of a district say yes, their legislator will be term-limited.  If the voters say no, they can elect the man or woman of their choosing without regard to term limits.

In other words, good-government types and legislators alike may wish to heed this well-worn advice: Trust the people.  And the people as a whole may amend the constitution to trust the people of each district to decide how they will be best served.


Quote of the Week

It’s not wise to proclaim “quote of the week” on a Monday, but here’s former Sen. Jason Crowell on the Senate’s LIHTC compromise“You would be better off giving all of the money to Habitat for Humanity and letting them build the homes…”


View from Corrections

Jefferson City News Tribune reports on the frontline workers in Missouri correctional facilities.  Worth reading.  See it here.

If something can be sharpened to a point or ground to a sharp edge, some offenders in Missouri's prisons will likely do it. But the inmates don't need a weapon to do serious harm to a guard, according to Stanley Keely, a deputy warden at Jefferson City Correctional Center. Officers have been slashed with makeshift knives, but they've also been beaten with bare hands, kicked, or had bodily fluids thrown or spit on them. Threats to Missouri's corrections officers are real and constant.

During an interview with the News Tribune, Keely talked about the dedication of staff at the prison and described two recent incidents of assaults on guards in JCCC… "I wish I could show you the kind of people who will get assaulted in the middle of their shift and go to the hospital and get stitches in their face and come back to work," Keely said while motioning at his left cheek. "We had an officer earlier this year, or 2018, that got punched in the face so hard by an inmate it knocked a hole through his cheek. He was blowing bubbles through his cheek — blood bubbles."

The incident enraged Keely.  The guard tried to calm Keely down. "Oh, don't worry about it, Stan," the guard said. "I'll be OK." As the management team waited, doctors sewed up the guard's cheek — inside and out. Then, because his housing unit was so short-staffed that day, the guard insisted on going back to work because he didn't want his coworkers to have to finish their shift short-handed…

Officials struggle to reach their goals in those areas, in part because corrections officers in the state are among the lowest paid in the nation. It is an issue governors have struggled with for a number of years. 

And although safety for guards and prisoners is the main concern, sometimes incidents do happen. Only recently, the department has begun posting summaries of reports concerning major incidents at the state's prisons. It lists eight incidents in the state's prisons since Jan. 14…


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Happy birthdays to Rep. Jeffery Justus, and Rose Marie Hopkins.