All eyes turn to football heading into this weekend. Even the Missouri legislature got into the spirit, voting last year to designate the Kansas City Chiefs as the state’s “official” NFL football team.
We have Patrick Mahomes and company to thank for that, with an assist from Stan Kroenke and his wandering eye. That L.A. television market was too much for the Rams to pass up.
So like the rest of us, Missouri lawmakers might have a little football on the brain. But they should look to another sport for a valuable lesson heading into the 2020 session that begins today.
The New York Yankees outscored the Pittsburgh Pirates 55-27 in the 1960 World Series, a long-forgotten fall classic that the Pirates won by pulling out four low-scoring games. Bill Mazeroski ended it in Game 7 in what would today be called a walkoff home run.
The lesson is this: Numerical superiority counts for little if you don’t take care of business when margins thin and things tighten up. In Missouri, GOP supermajorities in the House and Senate could be considered the political version of those 1960 Yankees.
Yes, they come through when it’s time to take a stand on abortion, toughen work rules for public benefits or hold the line on taxes, all issues with deep support from conservative voters. Other issues, like funding for bridge repairs or incentives for job creation, draw broad statewide approval. Rep. Sheila Solon and Sen. Tony Leutkemeyer were able to gain passage of a land bank bill that was vital to St. Joseph.
But on critical statewide issues of more nuance, the legislature can struggle to reach a consensus. Missouri remains the only state without a prescription drug monitoring program to combat opioid abuse. In the wake of court rulings, other states quickly adjusted tax law to account for the dominance of online commerce. Missouri is still waiting.
On Medicaid expansion, lawmakers appear loath to even touch the issue. They may instead leave it to voters, which becomes the equivalent of hanging a curveball to Maz in the bottom of the ninth.
Heading into this year’s session, we’re encouraged to find a local delegation with the potential to address some of the sticky issues facing Missouri. Maysville’s J. Eggleston has risen to the post of assistant majority floor leader in the House and chairman of committees on ethics and internet taxation. The latter is a critical issue in 2020. Solon was named chair of the children and families committee, while Brenda Shields has a leadership post on the education appropriations committee.
In the Senate, Dan Hegeman wields influence as chairman of that chamber’s appropriations committee.
All head to Jefferson City not as ideologues, but as fellow citizens ready to do the public’s business. It’s a good start.