Excellent: Legislature Passes Bill Holding Local Governments Accountable
Congratulations to Rep. John Wiemann and others for passing House Bill 271, a now greatly expanded bill whose original language, carried by Rep. Wiemann, addressed a reform near and dear to my heart—local transparency. For the last few years, the Institute has been an active proponent of making state and local government checkbooks open to the public, and we’ve seen some progress with the creation of a great site that advances these ends in the Missouri State Treasurer’s office. House Bill 271 establishes a similar program in the Office of Administration, which takes us one step closer to the mandatory checkbook reporting we’ve long advocated. If local governments can take your money from you and spend it, they must report it, and if they can’t, well, that’s a problem. The bill moves us closer to fixing that problem.
The omnibus bill touches on other local government issues of interest to us, notably the manner and circumstances under which local governments can take away rights of association and commerce via pandemic “health orders” and lockdowns. Living in Chiefs Kingdom doesn’t make you Kansas City’s peasant, and the bill’s eminently reasonable restrictions on local governments’ ability to take draconian actions against Missouri residents were overdue. As with local checkbook transparency, the state has an obligation to ensure that local governments, which exist as a managerial convenience, are accountable for acts done in the state’s name. On health orders in particular, local governments far exceeded in the last year what the state should ever tolerate. Congratulations to Sen. Bob Onder for successfully attaching this limiting language to the bill and to Sen. Andrew Koenig, Rep. Jim Murphy, and others for adding fuel to the fire throughout the process.
House Bill 271 now moves on to the governor, who is expected to sign it. Congratulations to the legislators and advocates who achieved these objectives.