The people of Missouri voted in November to hold their state representatives more accountable with a transparency initiative that would subject lawmakers to public records requests.
But Republicans were displeased with the measure and are now attempting to amend it in a manner that would all but dissolve its power.
Local news station KSHB reported on Thursday that GOP lawmakers are working to overturn the voters’ will just as they did twice before: once regarding an anti-concealed carry law in 2003, and again in 2011 when voters wanted to regulate puppy mills.
Now, "Clean Missouri" is at risk of being overturned.
“That is correct. Current Sunshine Law does provide me the opportunity to redact certain personal identifying information—social security name, phone numbers, things of that nature—but it does not protect the story,” said Clay County Rep. Doug Richey.
Missouri legislators were immune to public records requests prior to November’s voter-approved initiative.
Richey and 102 other house members passed a bill that would virtually gut the "Sunshine Law."
“I want to do everything I can to protect my constituents. From finding their information, their story, their trials, in the public eye,” said Richey.
Kansas City Rep. Greg Razer (D) said the Republicans have essentially “gutted all of the Sunshine Law” with their amendment — which he voted against.
“I was proud to vote against the amendment. It still got on the bill so I voted against the bill and I am proud to fight for Clean Missouri,” said Rep. Razer.
An amendment to the bill also extends the right to withhold information to city leaders, boards and law enforcement.
“I've definitely got reservations about some of the stuff that is in there,” said Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.
Asked for his thoughts on the proposed law change, Parson said: “I think you have to be careful anytime you are overturning the people's vote but I also think there is a legislators' process to make sure things are done right and if they think something is wrong they can take a look at that.”
The Kansas City Star editorial board penned a scathing rebuke of the Republicans’ work to undermine the state’s voters.
Way back in November, 62 percent of Missouri voters said yes, they do think that state lawmakers — ostensibly working on behalf of the public, after all — should be transparent.
They voted two-to-one that yes, the official records of state lawmakers should be wide open to the scrutiny of their employers, and that’s all of us.
But in Jefferson City, it’s often “opposite day.” So the Republican-controlled Missouri House put overturning the “Clean Missouri” ethics reforms on open records at the very top of their do-list.
And determined as they were, they got it done, too.
The editorial board even raised the spectre of Hillary Clinton in its attempt to shine a spotlight on the deceit and hypocrisy evident in Republican lawmakers’ actions:
We’re guessing that some of these same lawmakers were appalled by Hillary Clinton’s apparent attempts to get around Freedom of Information Act requests and to decide on her own which of her emails should be subject to public records requests. This is not as different as they’d like to think.
Hollowing out a constitutional amendment is unconstitutional on its face, and courts can’t allow this arrogant action to stand.