75ES3358 4x5 @ 72 ResWhy would a state representative propose legislation that would only apply to Blue Springs?

I’m talking about trash hauling, an issue the City Council resolved nearly seven months ago. Representative Sheila Solon of Blue Springs tried to attach an amendment to House Bill 701 one day before the 2012 session ended, an amendment that by its narrow demographic definition, out of all of the cities in Missouri, would only apply to Blue Springs. If it’s fair, beneficial and appropriate legislation, shouldn’t it be applicable to more than just one city within the state?

Earlier this year Rep. Solon began discussing a bill to require a vote of the people prior to any change in trash collection mandated by city government. While on the surface this may sound like a protection for residents and for free enterprise, it presents a number of challenges. In Blue Springs, our voter-approved home rule charter assigns the responsibility for these decisions to the City Council, and it is then the duty and obligation of the council to research the issue and seek input from residents and interested parties. The council met those responsibilities in resolving this issue.

Additionally, requiring special elections on specific non-tax issues creates an additional unnecessary expense for our residents. Our council, through recommendations by the mayor’s task force, successfully concluded this issue months ago. While I respect the voice of the voter, our system of government is a republic. We elect people to represent us and make decisions on our behalf. Just as our state government desires autonomy from unfunded federal legislation and mandates, our local government must have the same autonomy from state government.

As I reviewed the proposed amendment, I kept coming back to the same question. Why? What possible explanation would there be for this amendment, focused just on Blue Springs, regarding an issue resolved nearly seven months ago?

Was the decision to file this amendment related to campaign contributions from trash-hauling companies? It’s not unusual for industries to contribute to candidates or representatives in the hopes of having their concern or issue receive a higher level of attention. While most campaign finance reports include contributions from individuals, political action committees and businesses, when you start to see a preponderance of one type of industry, questions emerge as to the motivation for the contributions. Campaign finance reports are available online at mec.mo.gov. See the campaign finance report at http://bit.ly/SolonCF20111015 for details on the contributions that have been made by trash hauling companies or their employees to Rep. Solon.

The amendment to HB 701 was defeated. While I applaud Rep. Solon’s desire to protect the residents of Blue Springs, I disagree with her methods. If more focus was placed on effective and appropriate statewide legislation and less on attempts to micromanage local government and keep campaign contributors happy, the result would be a higher level of success for an elected official who represents a significant portion of our city.