(Friday, December 18) — This is my farewell Capitol Report. Special session officially closed yesterday (please see below), and as a result I have performed my last official duties on the House floor. I will be performing limited official duties until the new House members are sworn in the first week of January.
Special Session Update
As the special session called by Gov. Mike Parson came to a close, members of the House Special Committee on Government Oversight took time to discuss a piece of legislation that calls for investigations into the claims of election fraud in six states.
House Resolution 2 declares the members of the Missouri House of Representatives have no faith in the validity of the results of the 2020 presidential election reported by the states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada. The resolution also states it is necessary to conduct a full and fair investigation of election results, including analysis of absentee and mail-in ballot samples for compliance with state election law, to ensure free and fair elections were conducted in the six states.
Justin Hill (R), the resolution sponsor remarked that, “This statement represents my constituents and others across the state and simply says the House of Representatives in the State of Missouri has no confidence in the reported results in six states unless full and fair investigations are completed into those claims of fraud.”
The committee also heard from Rudy Giuliani, who is the former mayor of New York and an attorney for Donald Trump. Giuliani told the committee members about the examples of election fraud in the other states. “All I have are a thousand affidavits from people who say in one form or another they saw fraud and all of them would like to be heard, but at least some of them should be heard and assessed in the way we do things in America — fair-minded. If they’re lying, not telling the truth, fine, but the frustration that is going to be caused by cutting this off like with censorship is going to be permanently damaging to this country.”
The House Special Committee on Government Oversight approved the resolution by a vote of 6-3, but the subsequent rules committee did not take up the resolution, and by constitutional requirements the special session closed on Wednesday.
I have been studying and teaching the Constitution for over 30 years. I am continually amazed at how wise our Founders truly were and how well they understood human nature and the lengths that some might go to attempting to achieve their desired ends. In that vein, they produced a document of government full of checks and balances as well as separation of powers to make certain that no one group, faction, or party could achieve total control. They left it to us to maintain the system they established, and every so often in history it is tested. In my opinion, this is one of those times.
HR 2 asks that investigations be undertaken in the questionable, and I would argue unconstitutional, electoral practices used in several significant states. In lieu of this, the resolution asks Congress to reject the questionable electoral votes as disenfranchising of those states with open and fair procedures. This is certainly not an unprecedented request and has a rather significant history.
In 1876, the electoral votes of four states were in question (there were several issues distributed among the electors of Oregon, Louisiana, and Florida, but perhaps the most interesting occurrence was that South Carolina had 101 percent voter participation!). Congress did not accept those tainted votes, no candidate received a majority, and eventually the House chose Rutherford B. Hayes as the president and Reconstruction ended in the South. Article II and the 25th Amendment provide these congressional safeguards if the outcomes of some states are less than pristine. It is the proper procedure, and unfortunately this presidential election seems to be headed in that direction. However, discomfort should not dissuade us from doing the right thing.
We have been conditioned in the last 100 years to resolve high-level policy questions in the courts, and that is where many turn when an election is in question. This is a legal avenue, but certainly not the only avenue. The fact of the matter is courts prefer to avoid political questions, and they are unquestionably holding to their history in this election cycle. However, this simply opens the door to the process envisioned by our Founders.
Throughout the debate in 1787 that brought us our current constitution, the Founders nearly passed on an elected presidency. They feared demagoguery and too much centralized power, along with other possible negative side effects. They debated several methods, including the House selecting the president before devising the Electoral College and the checks and balance of the vote going to the House if a majority is not obtained by any single candidate. We should certainly not fear the ingenious system they devised, but rather we should let it work its course.
State Budget Leaders Announce Fiscal Year 2022 Consensus Revenue Estimate
Budget leaders from the legislature and the governor’s office have come to an agreement on the state’s Consensus Revenue Estimate (CRE) for the next fiscal years. The CRE is calculated each year to give budget makers an estimate they can use to balance Missouri’s state spending plan.
Budget leaders project general revenue collections for Fiscal Year 2022 will be $9.78 billion. This represents a net decrease of $418.8 million $10.2 from the estimated revenue for Fiscal Year 2021. The revised estimate for the current fiscal year (FY21) is billion. This estimate is artificially high due to the income tax filing date being moved from April 15 in FY20 to July 15 in FY21, resulting in two income tax filing dates in FY21. The FY22 estimate reflects a return to a single filing date in the fiscal year.
Governor Parson will detail his proposed budget for FY22 during the State of the State address in January. The Missouri House will then begin the process of preparing the budget.
It has been an honor to serve the 51st District in the Missouri House of Representatives. Thank you for working with me to make Missouri a great place to live!
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!