My mother once said, nothing good happens after midnight. As a younger man in college, I thought that was bunk. Good times could be had after midnight.
Much older now, I understand what my parents meant. When it comes to your rights, it is rare to see legislation hit the ground after midnight on a weekday in a Republican controlled legislature.
Last night in Missouri was a breathtaking and sweeping attack on civil rights on citizens. And it began in earnest at 12:25AM, after the midnight hour.
Moving forward on extending a 72 hour waiting period to women who seek abortion services, including women who were victims of rape, incest and sexual abuse. We ended the night with a deal.. a deal that led to an end to early voting, a push to end unemployment benefits, and yes, that 72 hour waiting period.
The body had debated the bill multiple this session. Each time, Democrats would immediately begin to filibuster. Richard had threatened to employ a rarely utilized procedural move that would force an end to debate, which Democrats said could effectively kill other key priorities in the final days of the legislature, including the legislature’s large student transfers bill.More on what happened last night below.
“I’m convinced my pushing the issue would be counterproductive on a great deal of other issues,” said Sen. Scott Sifton, D-St. Louis. “Every piece of business that we’re going to take up in the next four days would be treated much differently in the vent a vote had to be forced.”
What was the grand bargain between Republican Senate Majority Floor Leader Ron Richard and Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jolie Justus?
According to a Senate Democratic source and a Republican source close to the negotiations, Democrats agreed to end their filibuster of the 72-hour waiting period for abortion and to not block the Republicans’ early voting proposal, while Republicans agreed to not bring up ‘Paycheck Protection’ and a ballot question that would allow the legislature to require voters to present photo identification at the polls.
When the Missouri legislature began debating the issue of a 72 hour waiting period for women, it included several parts.
* Women who seek an abortion will be required, after initial consultation, to wait 72 hours before services can be performed.
* Women would be required to watch an 'informational video' on the risks of abortion services.
* Women who are victims of rape, incest or other sexual abuse are NOT exempt to these restrictions.
An amendment to exempt victims of sexual assaults was shot down. A movement to eliminate the requirement to watch an 'informational video' succeeded, which means the bill will have to go back to the House rather than to the governor.
Missouri's Republican-led Senate defeated Tuesday an exemption for cases of rape or incest to the state's mandatory waiting period between a woman's doctor visit and a scheduled abortion.As I read through emails on the structure of the 'trade' this morning, it appears as though the Republican threat to their fellow democrats - outnumbered in the senate - was simple. They would use procedures to end the filibuster anyway and they would demand everything if the Democrats refused to yield.
The party-line 22-9 vote came as lawmakers started debate on legislation, HB 1307, tripling the state's current 24-hour waiting period. That bill was temporarily set aside following the vote on the exemption Tuesday evening.
Republicans opposed the exemption and argued that a pregnancy resulting from rape should be treated the same as others.
"Should the unborn child of rape have different rights and are they less important than another unborn child?" asked the bill's sponsor Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville. "I don't think so. I think they are both equal."
But Democrats said crime victims shouldn't be forced to wait to terminate a pregnancy. The exemption would also have applied to the 72-hour period instituted under the legislation.
"This just victimizes them further," said Sen. Paul LeVota, D-Independence. "It's just three days to further reflect and be reminded of a crime they were a victim of."
Democrats, believing much of this in the end would be found unconstitutional found that a continuing fight would not get them what they were after.
But what did Republicans get beyond a heinous anti-abortion legislation aimed at ONE clinic in St. Louis, the only clinic left in Missouri?
Well, let us begin with legislation brought forward at 12:24AM, HJR 90. This piece of legislation, a joint resolution, gives new meaning to stealing the vote by dark of night. Because it literally steals the vote in the dark of night.
Referred to as the 'Early Voting' bill, HJR90 moves to end early voting in Missouri.
Only six days of early voting, instead of six weeks. HJR90 would create a much more limited early voting window than the citizen-supported proposal.The legislation, drafted by ALEC removes voting after 5PM. Voting on Weekends is gone too. 6 Days of early voting is it, on weekdays. And the voting can be terminated at any time if Missouri Legislature removes the funds.
Prohibitions on weekend and evening voting options, preferred by many early voters in other states. Sunday is the day most preferred by early voters, and is included in the citizen-back proposal. The Senate Committee Substitute would create a constitutional prohibition on any early voting options outside of bankers hours.
A cynical ‘kill switch’ for legislature to cancel early voting at any time by removing appropriations in budget bills.
Intentional, unnecessary confusion for voters. Legislative leaders want to place a competing constitutional measure on the ballot after more than 300,000 signatures from Missouri voters were submitted to the Secretary of State for a real early voting proposal.
“This looks like a sham,” said Greg Oelke, who gathered signatures for months in the Springfield area. “When I talk to voters in my community about our initiative petition to allow more Missourians to participate in our democracy, they couldn’t wait to sign. What the legislature is doing now is just wrong.”
Before the night was up, Missouri Republicans advanced their next step for today. Cutting Missouri Unemployment benefits to the shortest in the country by tying them to the unemployment rate, another ALEC idea.
..lawmakers pushed through legislation last month that would tie the length of unemployment benefits to the state’s unemployment rate, a move that could ultimately shrink the maximum weeks of benefits in the state to 13 from the current standard of 20.The War on the Poor, Women, and the Vote had a good night in Missouri last night.
The idea’s fate now rests in the hands of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. His office declined to say whether he was considering a veto, but the governor’s Department of Labor spoke out in opposition to the idea at a House committee hearing.
The bill passed the Senate with enough votes to override a potential veto but did not get a two-thirds majority vote in the House.
Under the legislation, jobless benefits could be claimed for 20 weeks only when the state’s average unemployment rate is at least 9 percent. The maximum duration of jobless benefits would decrease one week for each half percentage point drop in the unemployment rate and bottom out at 13 weeks when the state’s jobless rate is less than 6 percent.
That would mean for March’s unemployment rate of 6.7 percent, workers could collect 15 weeks of unemployment by the proposed standards.
The bill would make the amount of time Missourians could collect jobless benefits one of the shortest in the country.
Republicans, along with business groups such as the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, have championed the legislation.
In the Dark of Night.
Maybe my parents were right, bad things happen after Midnight.