Growing up, I was a voracious reader. I loved fiction of all sorts.
One of the books I enjoyed reading was Lord of the Flies by William Golding.
Golding weaves the tale of a group of British boys who became stranded on an uninhabited island. It was not a Gilligan’s Island story. The book describes the disastrous attempt of the boys to govern themselves with no one watching.
You might ask, “what does that have to do with the Missouri General Assembly (#MOLEG)?”
When the General Assembly reconvened during the COVID-19 event, they did so under the stated intention of passing the budget by the Constitutional deadline. They also indicated they would be addressing only those things which needed to be done in consideration of the COVID-19 situation. They noted the Capitol was open but asked everyone to stay away including lobbyists and the public.
For the most part, both lobbyists and the public heeded the call to remain out of the building. The #MOLEG then proceeded to do far more than people were led to believe they were going to do.
It doesn’t take a cynical person to see that the #MOLEG is taking advantage of no one or at least very few being in the building these days. They have cobbled together what is officially known as Omnibus Bills, bills that would typically have been in multiple, single bills are now being combined into one bill.
The bills the #MOLEG has put together during this period should be called OMINOUS bills, not Omnibus!
These bills are OMINOUS because they generally contain multiple subjects, changes to the original title(s) to make these multiple subjects fit, includes bills that have not been heard in committee or have allowed the public the opportunity to weigh in on them.
One of the tips of the spear has been going on for quite some time. The #MOLEG has violated the constitution repeatedly by legislating in the budget. Specifically, they have been authorizing illegal slot machines in Fraternal organizations for several years. We have often pointed this out to them, but they continue to do so.
This year, the Senate version of the budget takes this violation a step further. It allows expansion in the number of slot machines permitted and expanded the “authorized” locations to truck stops. Pretty much any gas station with a diesel pump could be a truck stop! All of this language is unconstitutional for a couple of reasons.
First, the constitution prohibits legislating in budget bills. The proponents of these slot machines claim they are not slot machines. The appearance is changed, and the “payout” mechanism is different. All these changes are nothing more than putting different lipstick on a pig and expect everyone not to notice that it’s still a pig—the provision for these slot machines is legislating in a budget bill.
Second, slot machines are games of chance. The constitution requires games of chance to be overseen by the gaming commission. The budget provision places these slot machines under the oversight of the Lottery Commission.
Why is all this important? Why is this issue considered the tip of the spear?
Because the #MOLEG has successfully and repeatedly gotten away with this unconstitutional provision, they are emboldened to do these OMINOUS bills, many of which are blatant unconstitutional vehicles.
In Lord of the Flies, the boys were stranded. They were all alone without anyone to watch them or check them in any way. They were rescued in the end, but not after some very devastating outcomes had occurred.
The OMINOUS bills will not kill anyone, but they will have impacts that are not good and many that are unintended.
The solution is that the #MOLEG not pass these OMINOUS bills in the first place.
If the #MOLEG doesn’t do their part, the Governor should veto all of the OMINOUS bills.
Failing that, I’m sure many will be successfully challenged in court for their constitutional violations.