Political Rewind: State Law Limiting Birth Control Sparks Lawsuit Trying to Stop It

September 16, 2012

Editor’s Note: This article was created by aggregating news articles froMissouri Watchdog.

State law limiting birth control sparks lawsuit trying to stop it

The Missouri General Assembly’s decision to override Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s contraception bill veto Wednesday has sparked a lawsuit to prevent the legislation from becoming law.

The Greater Kansas City Coalition of Labor Union Women filed a lawsuit in Cole County Circuit Courtlate Wednesday seeking an injunction against the measure, which allows state employers to refuse to provide insurance coverage for contraception on religious grounds.

“We consider this move to be just another right—wing assault on workers limiting our members’ options and choices,” said Edward Keenan, an attorney representing the group. “Our message is loud and clear: When you attack workers’ access to health care, labor fights back.”

Missouri legislators created the bill in response to an Obama administration policy that requires employers to provide coverage for contraception. Initially, the federal policy required all employers to offer the insurance, but President Barack Obama backtracked to allow an exemption for religious employers.

The Missouri law allows any employer to decline to offer the coverage.

Thomas who? Schools that honor Jefferson restrict free speech, group says

The University of Missouri—Columbia has multiple ties to founding father Thomas Jefferson, but the school recently was targeted in a study on schools that suppress free speech.

The third U.S. president, whose original grave marker resides on the MU quadrangle, would probably be disappointed to hear Mizzou is one of several public universities in the Show Me State criticized by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education for policies that infringe on First Amendment freedoms.

That Philadelphia—based educational organization dinged MU for a vague sexual harassment policy that says “lesser levels of sexually harassing behaviors may be inconsistent with MU’s commitment to a safe and inclusive work and learning environment.”

“Constitutionally speaking, they can’t punish lesser levels of harassment that don’t reach the legal level of harassment,” said Samantha Harris, director of speech code research for FIRE.

MU spokesman Christian Basi told Missouri Watchdog the university takes both free speech and sexual harassment seriously, calling safety the institution’s “number one priority.”

Wording on judge appointment amendment to stay the same

A second ballot initiative summary penned bySecretary of State Robin Carnahan was upheld in court Tuesday.

Now voters must decide in November if they want to give the governor more authority appointing high court judges.

Both Carnahan’s office and opponents of the measure praised the ruling byCole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem that doesn’t change the original ballot wording of Constitutional Amendment 3.

“The secretary of state’s office has a legal obligation to provide Missourians with fair and sufficient summaries of ballot measures,” Carnahan said in a statement. “The judge’s decision supports our position that the summary drafted by our office meets that legal standard.”

Former Missouri Bar Association president Skip Walther, who leads a committee opposing the proposal, called the amendment “dangerous” because he said it further politicizes the process of judicial selection.

“The last thing we need is for politicians to be in charge of this process,” he said.

The summary will read as follows on the ballot:

“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to change the current nonpartisan selection of supreme court and court of appeals judges to a process that gives the governor increased authority to:

  • appoint a majority of the commission that selects these court nominees; and
  • appoint all lawyers to the commission by removing the requirement that the governor’s appointees be non—lawyers?”

Nixon extends farmer drought relief program

Gov. Jay Nixon has extended the deadline for nearly 6,000 Missourifarmers to complete projects to improve access to adequate water, but he provided a vague timeline to finish the work.

Nixon on Monday said the state of emergency he declared for Missouri due to the drought would be extended until Nov. 15.

The Democrat issued an executive order that says for participants to be eligible for the extension, they “must diligently endeavor to engage the services of contractors and/or suppliers necessary to complete the project by the earliest possible date.”

“Despite the rain we’ve seen over the past two weeks, Missouri’s agricultural community still has a pressing need for water, especially for livestock,” Nixon said in a statement.

Missouri’s Department of Agriculture and Department of Natural Resources approved 5,885 applications submitted between July 23 and Aug. 6 for projects to drill new wells, deepen existing wells or find other ways to provide additional water to livestock and crops.

Schools: University of Missouri – Columbia