Wednesday, September 21, 2011
The potential exists for Missouri’s special legislative session to become an extraordinary waste of lawmakers’ time and taxpayers’ money.
A power struggle on an issue of authority and control threatens an unceremonious ending to the session that began earlier this month.
Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon called a special session — convened for what Missouri’s Constitution calls “extraordinary occasions” — to deal with economic development issues.
The special session agenda subsequently became laden with other issues, including: a Facebook prohibition in a new law for teachers; a date for Missouri’s presidential primary; tax relief for victims of natural disasters; and controlling authority for St. Louis police.
The governor’s initial call to address economic development was prompted by a deal crafted this summer by House and Senate leaders to restructure state tax credits and incentives to spur job creation.
The purported deal has taken the form of a bill titled “Complete Missouri.” The bill, which is supported by the governor, won bipartisan support in the Republican-controlled Senate and has advanced to the House.
Republicans who control the House have balked. They contend Complete Missouri grants too much authority and discretion to the governor’s executive branch agencies.
Rep. John Diehl, R-Town and Country, pronounced the Senate bill “dead on arrival” in the House.
Diehl, a lead sponsor and negotiator in the economic development efforts, said Monday night: “We have to either get together and get this thing figured out in the next 48 hours, or I think we just need to go home.”
Ticking clocks can be nerve-wracking, particularly when cracks appear in a deal deemed solid enough to prompt a special session.
We still aren’t convinced the occasion was extraordinary enough to warrant a special session.
But if the session abruptly ends with inaction, the results will qualify as both extraordinary and pitiful.