Notes from the front lines

Semi-blog things.

Some people who can do something about it are finally paying attention to the Capitol.   The Governor is suggesting $50 million dollars be spent in the next fiscal year to fix up the basement which is in terrible shape–not the part where he and legislators of certain status park, but hidden areas where there are distressing leaks.   The money also would go for new windows.  The place has a lot of them.  And many of them leak.  It’s been about four decades since the original windows were replaced.  It’s time to seal the building again against the elements. 

The building, its facilities, and its priceless art will need millions of dollars more in renovation, restoration, and repairs.  Perhaps events held from time to time to observe centennials in the progress of its construction–such as an event last week remembering the groundbreaking in May of 1913– will lead to continued commitments to return this building to the glories its designers and builders dreamed for it to be.

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Incidentally, this reporter is one of the few people remaining who has touched both ceilings of the House and of the Senate. It’s not exactly something to be carved into a tombstone.  But it does mean that I have been higher in the House and Senate than almost every Representative and Senator who have served in this building—even during some night sessions after long dinners with lobbyists. 

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We were in the elevator with Senator Will Kraus the other day.  He had me where he wanted me.  One of the blogs about seersucker Wednesdays had maligned his saddle shoes.   “They’re blue, ” he said, “not black.”   

 Which, of course, makes him even more stylish, with shoes that match the colors of his milk and sugar suit.   Our apologies to Senator Kraus’ shoes.  We did not knowingly or with malice aforethought in any way intend to indicate the shoes did not match the coat. 

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Speaking of Senator Kraus.  When we started to write these notes, it was 10:15 p.m. on Tuesday night, May 7, and the Democrats were trying to talk down Sen. Kraus’ tax cut bill.  About 45 minutes earlier we walked over to him as he was sitting on a bench at the side of the chamber while Senator Jamilla Nasheed prattled on, and told him, “If this keeps going for another two and a half hours, you’ll be out of uniform.”     Two and a half hours would mean it would be Wednesday and we know what that means in the senate.

 But the advice was erroneous.  The clock and the calendar might think it is Wednesday, but if the Senate is still doing Tuesday’s business, Tuesday can last far more than 24 hours.   I remember one day that lasted about 32.  Senator Richard has been pretty good this year in setting the schedule for the senate. He maxes out at about 14.  

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Speaking of what happens on Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder was in the chair that Tuesday when a Senator demanded to know his position on the clothing some of the fashion trend-setters of the Senate wear on Wednesday.  Kinder opined that in his part of state–Cape Girardeau–wearing of that kind of clothing was commonplace–BUT NEVER BEFORE MEMORIAL DAY!

The legislature will be gone by then and what’s the sense of wearing seersucker if you miss a chance to flaunt it?

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In the days when Missouri was an agrarian state, the legislature met from November into early March.  Every other year.  sessions began after the fall harvest and quit in time for planting season.  A check of old journals shows lawmakers sometimes met on Christmas.   We stepped outside the building early one evening last week.  The sun was gently setting in the west.  The grass was the lush dark green of Spring.  A light breeze was blowing.  It was quiet. It was delicious. 

It was a reminder that 6 p.m. May 17th can’t come soon enough. And it was a reminder that some of the old-timers had some pretty good ideas.

 

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