Joplin’s Ron Richard And Why Missouri Is Headed “South”

All you need to know about the state of politics here in Missouri is found in this lede today from the Associated Press:

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Federal agents would be sent to jail for enforcing some federal gun control laws under legislation endorsed by a Missouri House panel.

The ridiculous and unconstitutional quasi-secessionist legislation passed the state senate last month. In the mean time, Joplin’s Ron Richard, who is the Senate Majority Leader and who helped craft this revised version of a bill that he voted against last year, said this recently:

We’re the poster child for the second amendment in the country. 

No, we’re the poster child for stupidity, legislative malfeasance, and wasting government resources, since many millions will be needed to defend this nutty idea in court, if it ever becomes law.

In the mean time, to give you a further idea of what it is like here in regressive Missouri, made so with a lot of help from Joplin’s most important state legislator since Moses was floating on the Nile, try this:

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Senate Majority Floor Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said Thursday he support using a rarely used Senate procedure to force a vote on legislation that would triple the current 24-hour waiting period for abortions.

Richard’s response to those who thought that Democrats, what few there are, in the state senate might not like his use of this procedural tactic—which hasn’t been used since 2007, and then, too, on an anti-choice bill—was a classic authoritarian impulse:

We’ve gotten along very well. We’re just in the majority, and I want to do what I want to do.

Some day, God or Allah or demographics willing, the reactionaries won’t be in the majority here in Missouri. But they are in the process of winning the race to the bottom and help better arrive real soon.

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Would Jesus Expand Medicaid In Missouri? I’ll Let Him Tell You (UPDATED)

“Missouri’s low income and vulnerable citizens will have access to excellent health care in order to maximize their quality of life and independence.”

—The “vision” statement of Missouri’s Medicaid program, MO HealthNet Division

I swear the following story is in your Bible:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But the expert in the law wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said, “A man was going down from Jefferson City to Joplin, when he found out his job was being outsourced to China. All in one moment he lost his income and along with it his health insurance, which he needed because his wife had a serious health condition. A Religious Right preacher happened to be going down the same road on his way to vote for a Republican, and when he saw the uninsured man on the side of the road in much distress, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Teapartier, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side, as he was also on his way to vote for a Republican.

But a Samaritan, a man who believed in the social safety net, came by where the man was, and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and told him not to worry. He told him that he was voting for someone who would make sure that he and his wife had affordable health insurance, whether he had a job or not. He told him that he was voting for someone who would make sure his unemployment benefits wouldn’t dry up before he had a fair chance to get another job. Then he put the man in his car, registered him to vote, and brought him to the polling place. 

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who lost his job and his health insurance?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Here in Missouri, Republicans have blocked the expansion of Medicaid, which would have been fully paid for by the federal government for the next three years. After that the state would eventually pay no more than 10% of the cost, as the program is fully phased in by 2020. The point is that it wouldn’t cost the state a dime—not a dime—until 2017, and even then it wouldn’t cost much. It is estimated that in 2015 Missouri would receive $1.7 billion to help expand the program and bring insurance to more people who can’t now afford it, which could be somewhere between 260,000 and 310,000 Missourians.

Here is a look at just who would benefit if the program were expanded today, again at no cost to the state:

medicaid expansion in missouri

Right now, without Medicaid expansion in this Jesus-loving state, if you are a parent or parents in a family of four and can’t afford private health insurance but have an income over $4,475 a year (19% of the 2013 Federal Poverty Level), you aren’t eligible for Medicaid. Yes, you read that right. If you preside over a family of four and make over $4,475 a year (a bleeping year!) but don’t make enough to buy health insurance, as a parent you are not eligible for Medicaid in Missouri. If you’re wondering, that cutoff for eligibility is the lowest allowed under the federal law that initially established the national program.

Under expansion, your family situation wouldn’t matter. Neither would your disability status. If you were parenting a family of four and earned up to $31,322 a year (based on 133% of the federal poverty level for 2013), you would be eligible for help if you didn’t otherwise have health insurance. If you were a single adult, you could earn up to $15,282 a year and qualify for health insurance under Medicaid. And as a comprehensive study indicated, the expansion is not only good for the entire state (it would actually bring in more dough to the treasury), but it is especially good for folks who live in places like where I live here in the southwest corner:

medicaid expansion map

See that? Just in our part of the state more than 60,000 of our New Testament-toting neighbors would get health insurance. Hallelujah!

Except that here in this Jesus-loving town of Joplin, here in God-fearing Southwest Missouri, lives the Majority Floor Leader of the Missouri Senate, Ron Richard. I don’t know if he loves Jesus or not, but I do know he is opposed to Medicaid expansion and voted against it last week, as did every single Republican in the Senate. Here are the duties of his august position:

The Majority Floor Leader sets the schedule of bills up for consideration by the full chamber, the time spent on floor debate for legislation, and the meeting times and dates of the Missouri Senate, among other duties.

As you can see, Ron Richard is a powerful man. He can change the dynamics of the debate on the expansion of Medicaid in Missouri in less time than it would take a House Republican to say, “Impeach the socialist in the White’s House!” Below are ways to contact him:

Jefferson City Office, Pattie: 573-751-2173

Joplin Office, Gwen: 417-623-0022

Or send him a message:

http://www.senate.mo.gov/D32WebApps/Contact.aspx
http://ronrichardmosenate.com/contact.php

You can use one or all of the above methods in order to a) ask him if he loves Jesus, or b) ask him if he wants to treat his fellow Missourians like a good neighbor, or c) do what I did and send him a message like this:

ron richard websiteI respectfully ask that Sen. Richard lead the charge on expanding Medicaid in Missouri and bring some relief to hundreds of thousands of Missourians who need health insurance. We are leaving billions of dollars on the table, money that is needed here in our state to care for our own. Do the right thing, please.

_________________________________

UPDATE: Here is the email response I received from Sen. Richard. Based on this response, it wouldn’t hurt for all of you who are interested in this issue to let him know where you stand:

Thank you for your email. This was brought up on the Senate Floor for debate. This was just the first discussion on the floor and I believe there will be a lot more before we have a chance to vote on the bill. I will keep your thoughts and comments in mind as this bill becomes perfected and we vote on the measure.

Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Ron Richard
Senator District 32

Why I Know Ron Richard Will Run For Missouri Governor In 2016

Joplin’s Ron Richard, I guarantee it, will run for Missouri governor in 2016, after the departure of Democrat Jay Nixon.

Right now he is doing time in the Missouri Senate, after being elected to a four-year term in 2010.  He previously served as the speaker of the Missouri House until term limits forced him to jump, and jump rather easily since he had exactly no opposition, into the upper chamber, where he now holds the number two leadership post for the Republicans.

Some of you may recall that more than three years ago, Tony Messenger of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Richard, who started his now permanent political career on the Joplin City Council, had his long-term eyes on Missouri’s top prize:

Speaking to the Political Fix at Lincoln Days, Richard said that he has pondered a possible run for governor in 2016. That would be midway through a possible second term in the state Senate, and the scenario assumes that current Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, wins a second term in 2012, where he is likely to face Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican.

“I’d like to be on the short list and see what happens,” Richard said.

Even though Richard later denied being interested in running for governor in 2016, Messenger stood by his reporting, saying that Republican Lt. Governor Peter Kinder “was a little miffed when he read of Richard’s political plans,” which led to Richard backing away from what he said. Today, though, Peter Kinder’s political stock in the state has fallen considerably, mostly at the hands and, uh, other body parts, of an exotic dancer.

So, it appears Richard can run conscience-free in 2016 for the vacant governorship. But that’s not why I am certain he will run. It was the nice and cozy piece I saw in the Joplin Globe today that convinced me. It began this way:

State Sen. Ron Richard on Thursday said he has started drafting a new gun rights bill to replace a controversial measure that failed Wednesday when it fell one vote short of a veto override in the Missouri Senate.

Richard, R-Joplin, the Senate majority floor leader, was one of two Republican senators who voted against the override in the Legislature’s veto session. 

Obviously, even though Richard was stupidly in favor of the bill before he was wisely against it, no Republican candidate can be caught voting against a “gun rights” bill—even a machine-gun rights bill—and live to tell about it, so Richard is fast at work on repairing the damage:

His goal in the new legislation, Richard said, will be a bill that “protects the First and Second amendments, doesn’t hinder law enforcement in doing their jobs, and doesn’t end up challenged in court as soon as it’s enacted.”

The would-be governor also noted to the Globe that the National Rifle Association—yep!—has offered to help write the new version of the bill.

I rest my case.

Missouri Is Only One Vote Shy Of Insurrection Insanity

I’ve tried to avoid talking about it, but I can’t anymore.

Missouri, the state I’ve called home for more than twenty years now, the state that is in a tax-cutting, service-reducing race to the bottom against my old home state of Kansas, is an embarrassment to anyone with an IQ that exceeds air-conditioned room temperature.

And that embarrassment comes at the hands of extremist Republicans who, because there is a lot of apathy and even more electoral laziness in this state, overwhelmingly control the state legislature, even though, for now, we have a Democratic governor.

I speak of a successful vote—I said: successful vote—by the Missouri House to override Democratic Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of one of the most obviously unconstitutional and one of the stupidest bills in the history of governance by otherwise sane members of the Homo sapiens species.

As the Associated Press summarized the bill—which late Wednesday night failed by only one vote—one bleeping vote!—to get the needed two-thirds margin in the Missouri Senate to override—it is breathtaking in its affront to our federalist system of government and in its indifference to the Civil War in our past, not to mention a profound indifference to civilization:

The legislation declares any federal policies that “infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms” shall be invalid in Missouri. It allows state misdemeanor charges to be brought against federal agents who try to enforce those laws or against anyone who publishes the identity of a gun owner.

The AP continued:

Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat, also raised concerns last week about the ramifications of a potential veto override. He said a court likely would strike down the nullification provision but could leave intact other sections of the bill that could potentially prevent local police from cooperating with federal authorities on crimes involving guns. He said the bill also could open Missouri police to potential lawsuits from criminals if they refer gun-related cases to federal authorities.

CNN opened a story on this nuttiness like this:

The Missouri state legislature is one step closer to accomplishing something that’s never been done: passing a law that will technically not only let residents own a machine gun, but also arrest federal agents if they try to take it away.

The Springfield News-Leader added this:

Democrats who spoke in opposition said the bill would “shred” the First Amendment, criminalizing the actions of journalists involved in the publication of the names of gun owners.

Locally, where all of our state legislators are rabidly right-wing and thus out of their minds, I suppose we can sort of praise Joplin senator Ron Richard—the Republican Majority Floor Leader in the Missouri Senate—who voted against overriding the governor’s veto on Wednesday night, except that Ron Richard, stupidly, voted for the bill originally. Here’s how the Joplin legislator, who wants to be governor of the state someday soon, explained his unexplainable position on this ghastly piece of legislation:

“The attorney general made some valid points about its constitutionality,” he said. “And after reflecting, reading it again, and talking to a lot of people including those in law enforcement, I’m not sure Missouri needs to be the only state in the union to impose this unconstitutional bill.”

He’s “not sure”? Oh, I guess that means if other states join us, Richard would have no problem with machine guns all over the place, and putting FBI agents and journalists in the hoosegow. But he wasn’t done explainin’:

Richard said officials in law enforcement with whom he talked were uneasy with a law that would nullify federal gun laws in the state and would make it a crime for federal agents to enforce them in Missouri.

“They said, ‘You’re going to force us to arrest an FBI agent,’” he said. “That’s not going to work.”

You think? You don’t think state cops arresting federal cops for being federal cops is going to work? Brilliant, Senator Richard. What a brilliant insight. You should be Missouri’s governor with a brain like that. More:

The senator, who earlier was speaker in the House of Representatives, said he did not regret votes to pass the initial measure, which he said “makes a statement the feds need to stay out of state business.”

Yeah, that’ll show those meddlesome feds! Dammit, if you come near Missouri again, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll let citizens shoot you with their machine guns! And the senator, who earlier noted the bill was “unconstitutional,” nevertheless said “he did not regret” voting for it in the first place. Wow.

It’s insanity.  I feel like I’m living inside of Franz Kafka’s worst nightmare. This state is falling into a black hole of right-wing reactionary ridiculousness and every single one of my local representatives is contributing to it. And there isn’t a damn thing that can be done about it as long as Democrats, and other sane and civilized people, sit at home in large numbers on election day and let these people ruin our state.

By the way, a supporter of this insanity, Senator Brian Nieves, says “we’ll be back to visit it again”:

This fight ain’t over, it ain’t over, it ain’t over.

Kafkaesque, I tell you.

One vote, people. We’re only one vote away.

The Joplin Globe: A New Low, Indeed

Perhaps because its bread is mostly buttered by conservative readers and advertisers, or perhaps because all of our local legislators are Republicans and it wouldn’t do to make them mad, but there really is no excuse for what the Joplin Globe did—really, what it didn’t do—in today’s otherwise excellent editorial.

The piece rightly criticized the move in the Missouri legislature to force anyone wishing to vote in our state to present,

either a valid Missouri driver’s license or state-issued identification card, a passport, a military ID card or an unexpired state or federal photo ID card.

The Globe pointed out that,

The legislation would end the use of other forms of ID, including student ID cards, utility statements and expired Missouri driver’s licenses. A county-issued voter registration card wouldn’t even be good enough. If the bill is passed, Missouri would rank with Indiana for the strictest voter ID law in the country.

The paper mentioned the cost to the state of issuing the ID cards and also made the incontrovertible point that all of the fuss is over nothing. Missouri’s Secretary of State Jason Kander, according to the Globe, said in a report that,

no cases of voter impersonation fraud have been reported since the state’s current voter identification requirements were put into place in 2002.

That bears repeating: there is no fraud to fight with this new voter ID law. Nothing. Not one single case has come up in more than ten years. That is why the Globe asks,

Why are Missouri legislators so eager to invent problems that aren’t there?

Now, that is a very good question. The problem is that the Joplin Globe is in a position to answer it—and it didn’t. It failed Journalism 101.

First, the paper used the term “Missouri legislators” to describe the perpetrators of this scheme. While technically correct, the term manages to hide the truth: it is only Missouri Republican legislators who are inventing problems that aren’t there. Why didn’t  the Joplin Globe tell its readers that?

Second, the paper knows full well what is behind the scheme: disenfranchising Democratic voters. Couldn’t the paper have found a Democratic legislator to make that obvious claim and report that in its editorial? Sure it could have. I found a Democrat willing to call this for what it is on my first Google attempt:

“Jim Crow is alive in this room today,” said Rep. Chris Kelly, a Democrat from Columbia who served in the Legislature in the 1980s and ’90s before returning in 2009. “This is the single most immoral act that I’ve ever seen happen in my time in the General Assembly.”

Would it have been too much to ask that the editorial—which after all is expressing an opinion—present to readers at least what Democrats believe—and what the editorial writer actually knows—is behind the voter ID bill? But we must remember, again, who butters the Globe’s bread and the ultimate objective of bottom-line journalism: don’t piss off your subscribers or the people they put in political office.globe logo

Third, the paper has a very cozy relationship with area Republican legislators and we are often treated to favorable coverage in the paper of their mostly reactionary legislative exploits. Thus, since the offensive voter ID legislation has already passed the Missouri House, a reader of today’s editorial might wonder: How did our local representatives, like Bill Lant and Bill White and Charlie Davis and Tom Flanigan and Bill Reiboldt, vote? The paper doesn’t mention them.

Further, the bill is now before the Missouri Senate and a reader might want to know what our local senator, Ron Richard—the majority floor leader and recipient of many puffy pieces in the local paper—thinks about it. But the reader is left to wonder.

The Globe offered us nothing in the way of discovering what our local representatives think about this bill, this bill the Globe calls in the headline of its editorial,

A new low

A new low? That’s pretty strong language. Yet the paper doesn’t bother to call out Republicans in general for what they are doing nor does it bother to name names locally.* Again, think about the butter and the bread.

I guess I should be satisfied that at least the Joplin Globe is on the right side of the issue, but it would help much more if the paper used its clout to call out our local legislators for their disgusting attempt to disenfranchise large numbers of Missouri citizens, uh, Missouri Democrats.

__________________________________

*For the record, all of our local House members (except an absent Bill White) voted for the bill the paper called “A new low.”

I also called state Sen. Ron Richard’s office in Jefferson City and asked what his position on the pending legislation was. The nice lady who answered the phone told me that he had supported voter ID bills in the past but she couldn’t say for sure what his position was on this present legislation. She took my number and said she’d get back to me.

Oh, she also told me that lots and lots of voter fraud is going on, including buses full of folks hauled into the polls to vote illegally. I asked her to send me the evidence for this startling claim. I’ll let you know what I get, if anything.

A National Popular Vote?

Chuck Todd did a 10-minute segment this morning on an important issue: The Electoral College and the popular vote.

Todd’s guest was Dr. John Koza, originator of a proposal to move to a national popular vote in presidential elections (nine states with a total of 132 electoral votes have signed on so far).  Koza deftly defended his proposal, as Todd asked him all the relevant questions.

Interestingly (I did not know this) here in Missouri, Joplin’s own Sen. Ron Richard introduced a bill last month that would, if passed, ratify Koza’s proposed legislation, which essentially is a compact among the states to agree to certify electors (thus the Electoral College remains intact) who would vote only for the winner of the national popular vote.

A bipartisan National Popular Vote bill was also introduced in the Missouri House in February, as reported by the St. Louis Beacon:

In a rare bipartisan move, the Missouri House’s top Republican and Democrat have signed on as cosponsors to a bill — part of a national movement — that seeks to commit the state to awarding all of its presidential electors to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

House Speaker Steve Tilley, (far right) R-Perryville, and Democratic Minority Leader Mike Talboy, (near right) D- Kansas City, are among the co-sponsors of the bill, filed this week. The chief sponsor is Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst, R-Eureka.

Called the “National Popular Vote bill,” national supporters say it “would guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the entire United States. The bill ensures that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election.”

During the segment on MSNBC, John Koza pointed out that under our present system, 200 million voters are essentially disenfranchised. Yikes.

In the Missouri House the bill has been referred to the Elections Committee and no hearings have been scheduled. In the Senate, the bill has been has been handed to the Financial and Governmental Organizations and Elections Committee and no hearings appear to be scheduled.

I urge everyone to watch the informative segment below and if so inclined, contact Senator Richard at (573) 751-2173 or email him. If you live outside the Joplin area but still in Missouri you can contact your own state senator (or representative) by going here.

In the House,

Joplin representative Bill White’s phone is (573)-751-3791 or 417-623-0038 and his email address is Bill.White@house.mo.gov or wew@cableone.net

Bill Lant’s phone is 573-751-9801 or 417-623-5286. His email address is Bill.Lant@house.mo.gov or lantsfeed@netins.net

Webb City/Duquesne rep Charlie Davis can be reached at 573-751-7082 or 417-825-1193.  You can email him at Charlie.Davis@house.mo.gov or charliedavis@cableone.net

Vodpod videos no longer available.

“Citizens For A Republican Environment”

Citizens for a Decent Environment.”  That sounds like a group of left-wing tree-huggers, no?

Except it’s not.

The identity of the organizer of the group gives it away: John Putnam, Chairman of the Jasper County Republican Party and a local cheerleader for a right-wing nanny state. 

Mr. Putnam is galloping giddy over a ruling by the Missouri Supreme Court upholding a 2010 law restricting sexually oriented businesses. In a Joplin Globe article today on the court ruling, Putnam is quoted as saying:

“We’ve largely stopped adult businesses from coming to Missouri,” he said. “In Jasper County, no more have come in, and one has closed. One that stayed open has closed its video viewing operation.”

Imagine that.  A right-winger’s right-winger, John Putnam, is boasting that his efforts—along with area legislators including a possible candidate for Lt. Gov., Joplin’s Ron Richard—have “stopped” businesses “from coming to Missouri.” 

Reporter Susan Redden, who wrote the front-page story, described how Putnam and his legislator friends pulled off this big-government caper:

Part of the law targets operations that market adult videos shown in viewing booths. Putnam said the key to the measure is not trying to regulate what is being shown, but the manner in which the showing takes place.

Get that?  The key is to “regulate” the businesses out of business.  Now, I happen to know, because I’ve attended all three Joplin Tea Party rallies—organized by John Putnam—that Mr. Putnam is no fan of regulation.  He’s a small-government kind of guy.  Except when he isn’t.

You see, Putnam is all too typical of the kind of Republican in vogue today. These Republicans pledge fealty to the Constitution, pledge to rein in the reach of government, pledge to get government off the backs of the people and businesses. But they don’t mean a word of it, when it comes to their own moralistic goals or their own vision of the Great Society. 

This stuff is nothing but big-government bullying, whatever one thinks of the morality of the sex business.  I want to be clear: I don’t necessarily dislike the use of government to clean up our environment. In fact, I could today join Mr. Putnam’s “Citizens for a Decent Environment,” if it now, after its great victory, focused its efforts on other things that would make for a decent environment.

How about our tax laws?  How about making things more decent for the country, John, by insisting that your Republican friends raise taxes on the wealthy, so we can begin to get a grip on all this debt pollution?  Or, surely you can see that the large disparity between the richest Americans and the rest of us is mucking up our national neighborhood—maybe even more than peeking at nekkid women at a sex shop? Let’s do something about that, okay?

Or, how about demanding that the Republican party clean up the dysfunction fungus it has been culturing in Washington, D.C?  Urge them to join President Obama in his modest quest to create jobs, John. How about it?

But, no, Mr. Putnam doesn’t have much time to worry about silly issues like how income inequality is damaging America. He’s fast embarking on more efforts to run businesses out of the state:

Putnam said he has questions about a men’s spa that operates in conjunction with Vegas Video on County Road 100. [Capt. Derek ] Walrod [with the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department] said deputies also raised questions, and have been told that the operation does not come under the law because it is being run as a private club.

“Scott (Bergthold) thinks there is a bill that could address that, and it could be passed on a county level,” Putnam said.

Mr. Bergthold is an attorney Putnam’s group enlisted to draft airtight, nanny-state legislation that courts wouldn’t strike down.  So, stay tuned for more big government from our local Republican leaders, even as they attack the “socialist” Barack Obama.

Joplin Globe Focuses On Right-To-Freeload

The Joplin Globe, undoubtedly because it doesn’t have the resources to assign a reporter full-time to the goings-on in Jefferson City, doesn’t often feature stories on what is happening in state government.  But Sunday’s edition was an exception.

A front-page story by Susan Redden brought readers up to date on the right-to-freeload legislation percolating in the Missouri legislature.

I doubt too many locals knew that Bill White, Joplin representative in the Missouri House, is sponsoring his own right-to-freeload bill. From Redden’s article:

White said current Missouri laws are seen by those involved in economic development as the reason some manufacturers choose neighboring states such as Kansas or Oklahoma.

White’s bill specifies that no worker, to be hired or to keep a job, will be required to join a union or pay union dues. White said his bill “is a freedom-of-association issue.”

“Why should someone have to join a union and pay dues to be able to work? I don’t think that’s what this country’s about,” he said.

“Only 11.9 percent of the work force is union. I don’t think they can make the case that the other 88 percent can’t have a good job, or do a good job.”

I’ve dealt with this nonsense before, but I find it amazing that White, a former attorney who is married to a doctor, fails to bring to his argument any examples of businesses that did not locate in Missouri, or businesses that relocated to other states, because of our state’s anti-freeloading statutes.  Not one example.

Joplin’s representative in the Missouri Senate, business-owner Ron Richard, also favors the right-to-freeload legislation, although he concedes it’s not going to pass.  Here’s his reasoning, such as it is, for supporting efforts to further weaken labor unions in Missouri:

“I’ve always been told (right-to-work) makes the state more attractive, particularly to manufacturers,” he said.

I’ve always been told“? How about a little evidence, Mr. Richard? What can you provide us to support your view? One would think before you simply accept such claims you would ask for some examples of businesses that made decisions based on the right-to-freeload status of the various states and then share those examples with the rest of us, your constituents.

As Michael Kelsay, writing in the Globe‘s Sunday Forum, said,

Employers uniformly report that right-to-work is not an important factor in their location decision. In 2009, Area Development magazine’s annual survey of small manufacturers found that right-to-work was ranked 14th as a factor in location decisions; in 2010, right-to-work had fallen to 20th as a factor in location decisions. Over the past several years, right-to-work has never ranked in the 10 of the most important factors that influence manufacturers’ location decisions. Those factors that are consistently ranked in the top 10 of importance are factors such as highway accessibility, availability of skilled labor, state and local tax incentives, tax exemptions and construction costs.

And Kelsay provided the most succinct description possible of the right-to-freeload bills pending in Missouri:

The legislation will lower wages and benefits and will have no impact on job growth.

______________________

Finally, again in the paper’s Forum section, a frequent commenter on this blog, William Gerald Malan, wrote a nice piece on what our Missouri legislators are proposing in regards to tax policy (eliminating the corporate franchise tax at a cost of $85 million, while simultaneously modifying tax credits in ways that hurt the poor), and whether Missouri will continue to receive extended federal unemployment benefit funds (thousands of Missourians will be eligible for the benefits beginning next month, but three Republicans are delaying passage in the Senate).

Gerry ends his column:

Missourians need help now.

Indeed.

Charles Dickens Call Your Office

Most of the civilized world has evolved to the point where it is no longer debatable whether children ought to be sent off to work each day.

But not in neo-Victorian Missouri, if State Senator Jane Cunningham has her way.

Via FiredUp!Missouri, I learned that Mike Hall, at AFL-CIO Now, had written a post detailing what Sen. Cunningham has in mind for Missouri’s youth.  Mr. Hall commented on her proposal by calling it “insane.”  No, no, no.  It’s not insane in the context of Republican politics these days.  It fits perfectly.  Sure, it’s insane in the context of normal, civilized thinking.  But conservatism has devolved into a senseless, insensate, tasteless collection of absurdities.

And adding one more senseless, insensate, tasteless absurdity is perfectly compatible with a disordered political philosophy.

Here is SB 222 in all its glory, copied exactly from an official summary of the bill:

This act modifies the child labor laws.

It eliminates the prohibition on employment of children under age fourteen.

Restrictions on the number of hours and restrictions on when a child may work during the day are also removed.

It also repeals the requirement that a child ages fourteen or fifteen obtain a work certificate or work permit in order to be employed.

Children under sixteen will also be allowed to work in any capacity in a motel, resort or hotel where sleeping accommodations are furnished.

It also removes the authority of the director of the Division of Labor Standards to inspect employers who employ children and to require them to keep certain records for children they employ.

It also repeals the presumption that the presence of a child in a workplace is evidence of employment.

Hoping that Joplin’s own Ron Richard, newly elected to the state senate, was not a part of this manifestly Dickensian nightmare, I  phoned his local office and talked with a very nice woman named Gwynn.  I identified myself as a Democrat and she very quickly assured me that my politics didn’t matter; she would try to help me.

I mentioned SB 222 and she said she had heard something about it.  She asked me what I thought of the bill and I told her.  At one point I ask her if she had ever read any Dickens.  Yes, she said, and she remarked that she thought about that when I was reading the official summary to her.  Good.  Then she said she would call the Jefferson City office and have someone get back with me.  She was true to her word.  She phoned me about 15 minutes later and said someone from Jeff City would be calling within about 45 minutes.

Sure enough, Kenny Ross, chief of Richard’s two-person staff, called me and assured me Mr. Richard “Doesn’t like” the bill and “doesn’t agree” with it.  “Ron’s all in favor of job creation,” Ross explained, but not in the way SB 222 does it.

Thank God and Charles Dickens for that.

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Political Fix relates the inevitable Jay Leno joke last night:

Missouri Statehouse received a nod Tuesday night from comedian Jay Leno, who mocked a Senate bill that would significantly weaken child labor laws.

And in Missouri, Republican state Sen. Jane Cunningham has introduced a bill that would eliminate her state’s child labor laws,” Leno said at the conclusion of his monologue on “The Tonight Show.”

Well, yeah, I mean, why should the 10-year-olds in China be getting all the good factory jobs?

Slimy Republican Politics In The Name Of Jesus

Yesterday’s Joplin Globe carried a story on the issue of fake caller IDs used during this year’s election by the Missouri House Republican Campaign Committee.

Known as “spoofing,” the idea is to use reputable caller IDs—say, from hospitals—as a disguise to get people to answer the phone.  People then find they are listening to a recording saying nasty things about Democrats. Most folks obviously are more likely to answer a call when the ID reads “St. Luke’s,” as opposed to reading, “slimy Republican political operative.”

One such slimy political operative, Tom Smith, works for the state of Missouri as the legislative director for Joplin’s own, Ron Richard.  Mr. Smith owns Survey Saint Louis and Survey Missouri.  A victim of stolen identity, St. Luke’s Health System, alleged that one of Mr. Smith’s companies was the source of the automated calls and sued to have the practiced stopped, four days before the election.

Although Mr. Smith eventually settled the lawsuit by paying St. Luke’s attorney’s fees, he claims he didn’t know anything about the bait-and-switch practice until he read about it in the media.

Yep, that’s what he said.  But, if so, why settle the suit?

One thing Mr. Smith can’t deny, though, is the content of the robo calls.  His company produced the following attack on Democrat Courtney Cole (which I posted last month):

Female voice: This is an urgent alert for all Christian families. Before you vote you should know that state representative candidate Courtney Cole has taken hundreds in campaign donations from a representative of the hard-core pornography industry, including gay pornography.

“By allowing her Democratic campaign to be funded by those who are involved with and support hard-core pornography Courtney Cole clearly does not share our Christian family values.

“On election day stand up for what’s right and decent by voting no on Courtney Cole. Paid for by House Republican Campaign Committee, Inc.”

Similar disgusting calls were made to folks in other districts, including the 21st, where Democrat Kelly Schultz was a victim.  Republicans in Jefferson City knew Schultz very well, since she worked in the state capitol for eleven years, most recently as a legislative assistant to Rep. Sara Lampe, of Springfield.  But that didn’t stop some Republicans, including an aid to Ron Richard*, from attacking her, in the name of Jesus and family values.

And before I hear from someone who says, “Democrats do this stuff, too,” please be prepared to show me where in Missouri that Democrats used religious robocalls to smear Republicans?

That’s what I thought.

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*Perhaps someday, before hell freezes over, some local reporter will ask Ron Richard what he thinks about such things and what he thinks about his aid, Tom Smith, and his tactics.  Or what he thinks about his close colleague, Steve Tilley, who leads the House Republican Campaign Committee that paid for the robo calls. 

My money is on hell freezing over.

But we do know that the Kansas City Star reported last year that Tom Smith made “almost $500,000” via his political consulting business, which this year produced the robo calls above.  As an AP story put it,

Richard said he doesn’t have a problem with Smith’s side job as long as he doesn’t work on campaigns during the legislative session. 

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