The Kansas City Star Is Right
A recent Kansas City Star piece excoriated the Missouri Senate for its behavior and failure in the recently concluded legislative session. I’ve certainly had my share of disagreements with the Star, but the Star is absolutely right about what our state Senators failed to understand in 2022—that “not doing bad things” isn’t quite the same as “doing good things.” From the Star:
Senators are not inherently wiser, or more patient, or more knowledgeable than their House counterparts. In a tweet Friday, state Sen. Lauren Arthur of Kansas City, a Democrat, defended the institution. “The Senate was designed to make it difficult to pass legislation,” she said.
Yet Arthur and her colleagues were unable to prevent the grotesque violation of Kansas Citians’ rights when the General Assembly imposed a 25% floor on police spending in its final day.
If your only goal is to prevent bad stuff, rather than pursue good stuff, failure can resemble success. But it’s still failure. [Emphasis mine]
Nebraska has a one-house state legislature. Perhaps the people skilled at gathering petition signatures can pursue a smaller Missouri General Assembly in 2023.
The Star is right about the philosophical importance of pursuing, and following through on “good stuff,” though I might disagree about what that “good stuff” would be. But for example, high among the alleged priorities of the state Senate leadership was passing a Parents’ Bill of Rights, and that priority was decidedly and bizarrely ignored throughout the session.
The Senate’s bias against its own priorities—debating key legislation last rather than first, and thus always risking its failure—isn’t new. Missouri voters have sent supermajorities to the House and Senate for a reason; it is not reasonable for the legislature to fail so emphatically and so often in enacting the reforms their constituents demand. In that, I agree with the Star.
Now, I’m not prepared to agree with the Star that Missouri should abolish the Senate entirely and adopt Nebraska’s unicameral legislature. But get back to me next year; maybe another year of failure will persuade me.