I just read today that Missouri is ground zero in the battle over centrist versus extreme right orthodoxy. Looking around town and hearing the conversations that are unfolding around and about this state, it is hard not to feel the initial ripples of change unfolding.  First of all, I saw online that Michael Sam’s rookie jersey is the second biggest seller in NFL history. Go Rams! Sam is the first openly gay rookie to be drafted in the NFL.

Then I opened the newspaper and saw an op-ed piece that points out that for the sake of our economy, the time has come to make discrimination against gays in the workplace illegal. “Research shows that municipalities and states that enact policies protecting gay and lesbian people are more attractive to young entrepreneurs – gay or straight – who are looking for an open, thriving creative place to locate or launch their businesses,” Senator John C. Danforth, a well-known moderate Republican, wrote.

It has occurred to me only recently that I live in a community that is clearly in the viewfinder of activists gathering information about discrimination against gays and other minorities. A friend told me she was approached by a St. Louis city school kid popping up outside a well-known supermarket in Ladue, asking for money and telling customers he was hungry. And I was in a favorite neighborhood market the other day, when a gay rights activist came in and was treated with the very same courtesy and respect those merchants have always shown me. It’s clear we are in an information gathering stage of activism. Honestly, it’s kind of exciting to think we are on the brink of change. I’m proud of the good people who are stepping up in this state or the ones who have always been good and are getting to show their true colors. 

And as I read the news out of the State Capitol today, where legislators are wrapping up the current session, you can see why we are being called Ground Zero for the battle between the center and the far right.  

Once again, Planned Parenthood is getting caught up in the politicking around economic issues like paycheck protection. Why 22 male Republican State Senators think it’s okay to offer up a 72 hour waiting period, tripling the waiting period and putting Missouri among the top 3 states in the country restricting access, when we only have one legal provider in the state, I cannot fathom. They did it in a compromise deal in which they agreed to back off of paycheck protection, a bill that would have required public sector unions to get an employee’s permission before his or her workplace earnings go to the union’s political efforts. One small step forward for the unions; one giant step backwards for reproductive rights. Where workers wind up remains to be seen. 

Every raw nerve between the parties is being tested in this session. 

An electric car company that wants to sell cars directly to consumers is being challenged by The Missouri Automobile Dealers Association.

The police chiefs of our state’s two biggest cities are urging lawmakers to consider the consequences of a bill named the Second Amendment Preservation Act. It would allow Missourians who are arrested for violating federal gun laws to sue federal law enforcement if the state’s laws differ. It isn’t any wonder the police chiefs are against it when you consider that it would also bar any federal law enforcement officer from applying for a state police job if he enforces federal gun laws in Missouri. The bill would also lower the conceal carry age, allow open carry even in municipalities where it is outlawed and permit teachers to carry guns in schools once they’ve been trained. 

In the city of St. Louis, changes to the school transfer law means for the first time, that law now mandates that public education dollars could be going to private schools in unaccredited districts. That means students are being put first. Students in unaccredited districts will get to choose to go to private schools if their own schools have failed them. And they have. The key here is public money will now be allocated for those transfers. 

A tax cut that the Governor vetoed has passed both houses, thanks to one Democrat who crossed over in the House. It could lead to a .5 reduction in the individual income rate as well as a 25% reduction on business income reported by individuals. A possible increase in the sales tax to fund transportation and other infrastructure improvements will be put to voters this Fall.  Critics say the most innovation is coming from states with some of the highest tax rates, like California while others are questioning whether Kansas’ tax reform has led to the growth it intended.

It’s an interesting week to dial in in Missouri. So, stay tuned.