What’s the matter with Missouri: 2017 edition

The blood-red Missouri legislature, the state’s once-Democrat-now-Republican Governor, and our party-uber-alles senior Senator continue to make this state a beacon for everything that’s going wrong in our country today. It’s not hard to find examples. Here are just a few:

  • Missouri’s first-term Republican Governor, Eric Greitens [of assault-weapon ad fame], has signed a bill that revokes the City of St. Louis’ minimum wage hike. So, as of August 28, workers in the City of St. Louis who were earning $10/hr. under the new minimum wage, will get a pay cut, back to the old minimum wage of $7.70/hr.
  • Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft [yes, he is the son of former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft] is one of only three Secretaries of State in the U.S., who have unconditionally surrendered vast amounts of voters’ personal information to Donald Trump and Chris Kobach’s election-suppression commission. No questions asked. Just handed it over because his Republican president asked for it.
  • Republican U.S. Senator Roy Blunt unequivocally supports the McConnell/Trump replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Well, Missouri never expanded Medicaid anyway, so what’s the big deal, right?
  • REAL ID is still a real problem in Missouri, because the legislature took 12 years to finally pass it. The 2017 legislature passed a bill that would bring state IDs into compliance, without which people using Missouri-issued IDs would be barred by TSA from flying. [Some ultra-conservative legislators held out for “privacy rights” by including a clause that allows people to opt out and just keep their old, non-compliant IDs.] But Missouri is about to run out of free passes from the federal government, and there’s still no plan to help people get the proper ID. But, y’know, why would anyone want to leave Missouri [or try to enter a federal building] anyway?
  • Just yesterday, I attended a meeting at which lawyers were explaining the rights of surviving spouses under Missouri law. Here’s how the statute begins:

…The surviving spouse [is] entitled to the following property of the estate without regard to its value: The family bible and other books, one automobile or other passenger vehicle, including a pickup truck, with its means of propulsion…

If the order in which things are listed is indicative, the most important possession is the family bible. Next in order of priority is the car or pickup truck, and the dead spouse can’t screw the surviving spouse by having had the engine removed. These are apparently the laughable priorities in Missouri law…

  • Missouri has some of the most lax gun laws in America. The legislature has decided that anyone can carry a concealed weapon almost anywhere in the state without the need to get a permit or training. Missouri also has the distinction of being the first state to adopt a “Stand Your Ground”  [otherwise known as “shoot first”] law since Trayvon Martin was killed in 2012. Naturally, that puts Missouri out of step with the rest of the country, where an American Bar Association task force and numerous other state legislatures have urged states to rethink such laws.
  • Governor Greitens, again: He is rapidly earning a reputation for being a “mini-Trump,” with no experience in government and grandiose ambitions [He has amassed a huge campaign war chest, and is clearly aiming for a presidential run in 2020.]  Last week, he boasted that he was going to go on a rampage against crime in St. Louis by putting the Missouri Highway Patrol out on the interstates in force, looking for bad guys. After deploying the Highway Patrol for the weekend, he further bragged that they had made “dozens of  felony arrests.”  Statistics revealed than the Patrol had made only one arrest.
  • While some people are describing the Trump administration as a “dumpster fire,” Missouri is home to the mother of all dumpster conflagrations—the one in St. Louis, where an underground fire in the Bridgeton Landfill is creeping ever closer to radioactive waste dumped nearby during the 1970s and 1980s. No one actually knows when the two will merge, and no one actually knows what will happen when the confluence takes place. Wait, it’s worse: No one knows if it has actually already happened.

And these are only the items that popped into my head over a period of about 15 minutes. It’s hard being a blue person in a red state. The only consolation is that things might be even worse in our once- proudly-blue-state neighbor, now turned fiscal laughingstock—Illinois.