In Another Grinding Legislative Session, Missourians’ Priorities Getting Ignored Again
After countless hours of debate and filibuster, the Missouri Senate finally passed a version of a redistricted Congressional map—a regular and expected exercise required of legislatures after each Census. That redistricting debate is still not over, but the slow and plodding pace on this relatively simple piece of legislation is indicative of both the House and Senate’s failure to get much done this year. Coming into 2022, a lot of leading Missouri politicians talked a good game about getting freedom-enhancing priorities passed for the public, but so far that talk has amounted to just spending billions of dollars of federal money. Not much extra freedom there.
What’s the cost of this legislative inaction been so far? From failing to establish a parents’ bill of rights to making no progress on reforming taxes, priorities of all sorts are increasingly in peril as the end of the session draws ever nearer with each passing fruitless legislative day.
Congressional maps are only part of the problem, of course. The main problem is that the Senate supermajority, bizarrely, cannot agree among themselves on what major legislative priorities to pass and when to test the commitment of the minority to a filibuster of the majority’s plans. Bills are filibustered. Resolutions are filibustered. The journal (!) is filibustered. And economic freedom and school choice and transparency and tax reform go by the wayside.
The result is that instead of fending off just one faction of filibusterers, the Senate now has two sizable filibustering factions: the liberal minority and, now, the conservative caucus.
It’s easy to dust off the old saw that this is just how the Missouri Legislature operates, but years of rewarding filibusters in the Senate has invited more of them and made filibusters the norm rather than the exception to managing legislative business. You’d be forgiven if you thought the legislative priorities of Missouri’s conservative supermajority were a bit unclear, especially in contrast to states like Arizona and Florida that committed to transparency in curricula and acted at the first opportunity. If not getting things done in 2022 is the intent of representatives and senators, well, mission accomplished. But I don’t think that was the deal taxpayers thought they were making with their elected officials when they put them in office.
Whatever the majority’s objectives might be for 2022, the clock is winding down on them. Missourians deserve far more than has been delivered by the legislature, and so far, the session has been a giant disappointment.