Editorial Roundup: Missouri

Kansas City Star. May 19, 2022.

Editorial: Every GOP Missouri and Kansas US representative voted no on baby formula bill — but 1

Wednesday, the U.S. House approved a bill providing $28 million to the Food and Drug Administration “to address the current shortage of FDA-regulated infant formula.” The vote was 231 yes, 192 no.

Every Republican U.S. congressman and congresswoman from Kansas and Missouri, save Rep. Ann Wagner of the St. Louis area, voted against the money. Every one.

For those keeping score, that’s a big no from Reps. Tracey Mann, Ron Estes, and Jake LaTurner in Kansas; in Missouri, Reps. Sam Graves, Vicky Hartzler, Billy Long, Blaine Luetkemeyer and Jason Smith voted no.

All were following the direction of GOP leadership in the House, which offered vague opposition to the measure in the hours before the vote. Rep. Steve Scalise said Democrats offered the bill “in hopes of covering up the administration’s ineptitude by throwing additional money at the FDA with no plan to actually fix the problem.”

In truth, the bill won’t solve the infant formula shortage overnight. The bill, which still needs Senate approval, is only a small step in addressing the critical shortage of food for infants.

But the GOP votes are clarifying anyway. This is about politics, not children: Republicans in Congress are far more interested in using the shortage as a political issue than actually addressing the problem and feeding hungry infants. That’s appalling.

The roots of the shortage are complicated and deep. Infant formula production is limited — 90% of the nation’s formula is packaged by just four companies. The supply chain issues that have rocked the larger economy have played a role in the baby formula shortage.

The U.S. imports very little formula, in part because of safety concerns. Taxes on formula imports are also very high.

But the current crisis began earlier this year, when one manufacturer shut down a major production facility in Michigan over concerns about contamination and sickness. The subsequent loss of formula disrupted supplies across the country, which prompted a run on the product and some hoarding, making a bad situation worse.

The government is trying to unstick the mess. The FDA has authorized reopening the Michigan plant. Wednesday, the Biden Administration invoked the Defense Production Act, which enables the government to require private makers to prioritize formula components.

Against this backdrop, $28 million will have little immediate impact. But it could help in the weeks ahead, by allowing the FDA to increase industry oversight and get more formula on the shelves.

There are important questions involving infant formula production and consumption that the government should address once the crisis has abated. Should the nation diversify formula production? Should it import more baby formula? How can the nation respond to shortages more quickly?

What Congress cannot do is degrade regulations for infant formula, or relax oversight. Babies should not be forced to drink substandard formula, or risk illness and death just to get more cans on the shelves.

And Congress should not turn the shortage into a political issue, ready for exploitation from either party. The government must do what it can, in a bipartisan way, to help out hungry kids and their parents. Finger-pointing is always possible later, and in the current environment, inevitable.

The Senate should approve the $28 million bill quickly. Then the country can address the supply issue, to make sure this calamity never happens again.

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch. May 22, 2022.

Editorial: Voters should nail down lawmakers on how far they will go to restrict abortion

For years, the anti-abortion movement has generally tolerated exceptions in cases of rape or incest, or when the health or life of the woman was at risk from pregnancy. It was seemingly neutral territory in the debate, a recognition of the complexity of real-life circumstances.

But now that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to reverse Roe v. Wade, those exceptions are evaporating. Missouri, like other red states, has a law ready to go into effect as soon as Roe falls that would outlaw abortion from conception, without exceptions for rape or incest — thus promising to revictimize women already traumatized by one of the worst violations imaginable.

And greater danger lurks on the horizon. As The Washington Post reports in an extensive examination of the issue, those health-and-life exceptions around the country are being softened, even as the activists who have Republican lawmakers’ ears increasingly call for ending exceptions altogether. As the primaries and midterms approach, even moderately anti-abortion voters should insist that Republican candidates specify just how far they’re willing to go in restricting those rights — and then consider whether those answers are reasonable.

In hindsight, it is becoming clear that the acceptance in the anti-abortion movement of some exceptions wasn’t a gesture of compassion toward women in impossible circumstances, but was more about legal and political strategy, which might soon be rendered unnecessary by the Supreme Court. Ditto with the nearly ubiquitous reluctance to directly punish pregnant women who seek abortions (as opposed to the doctors who perform them). It took Louisiana lawmakers just days to overcome that reluctance after news of the leaked draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, when they briefly considered a bill to charge women who seek abortions with homicide.

While the sponsor ultimately yanked the bill, there’s no reason to believe the idea won’t be back, there and elsewhere. The court could leave states completely unfettered in dealing with abortion. Could America reach a moment in which a woman is raped, impregnated, faces serious health problems from the pregnancy — and then ends up on some state’s death row for ending the pregnancy? Nothing in the court’s draft opinion would prevent it.

Anyone who thinks there aren’t red-state legislators who would accept such a scenario hasn’t been paying attention. In Missouri alone last session, legislators considered a measure from one lawmaker that sought to have the state’s anti-abortion laws stalk Missouri women wherever they might go and censor any information they could obtain about abortion, while another lawmaker pondered the possibility of making abortion punishable by death.

The courts have constrained such fanaticism for the past half-century, but those constraints are very likely about to disappear. Now — before they win reelection — is the time to make Republican politicians provide details about exactly what they intend to do with these vast new powers.

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Jefferson City News Tribune. May 20, 2022.

Editorial: Boating safety season

The unofficial start to summer is just a week away.

Memorial Day weekend is to honor and remember members of the Armed Forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country.

It’s also typically the time of the year pools start to open and our thoughts veer from work to barbecuing and, for some of us, boating.

The weekend is one of the biggest boating weekends of the season. That’s why the week starting tomorrow is National Safe Boating Week.

We join the Missouri Highway Patrol in stressing the importance of safe boating. We urge you to have your boat inspected before taking it out on the water. The patrol’s marine operations troopers offer this service free of charge.

Here in the patrol’s Troop F, they’ll be available today from 10 a.m.-noon at Mari-Osa Access, 10599 Marina Road, Jefferson City. They’ll also be available from 10 a.m.-noon at Lake of the Ozarks State Park Public Beach #2 in Osage Beach.

Additional information on equipment inspection stations may be obtained from your local troop headquarters.

We also ask that boaters brush up on Missouri’s boating laws.

Missouri law requires everyone born after January 1, 1984, who operates a vessel on Missouri lakes to possess an approved boating safety identification card. This includes those operating a personal watercraft.

Just as we urge you to buckle up in motor vehicles, we also urge you to wear a life jacket on boats. Children under 7-years old are required to wear a personal flotation device while in a boat, but they’re proven life-savers for everyone.

Also, please designate a sober captain if you choose to consume alcohol.

Boating while intoxicated is a crime, just like driving while intoxicated, and both have resulted in needless deaths.

Let’s celebrate safely this Memorial Day weekend while recalling the sacrifices that our military have made to ensure our freedoms.

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