Photo ID Bill Hearing Controversy: Dems Slam GOP For Suppressing Public Feedback
Update below: This morning, we reported on the progress of a controversial GOP measure to mandate all voters in Missouri show photo identification. Despite push back from the left, the proposal is moving forward this week.
But now, according to Representative Stacey Newman, a Democrat and outspoken opponent of the initiative, Republican leadership is trying to squash public feedback on the matter with a scheduled hearing in a location where it will be difficult for anyone to testify. Her concerns are noteworthy, because they are a repeat of the same criticisms the proposal originally faced when a hearing was scheduled at the absurd time of 6:45 a.m.
Are GOP leaders purposefully thwarting public feedback?
"This is the second attempt to make it hard for the public," Newman tells Daily RFT, pointing to the scheduled location tomorrow at the South Gallery, which she says is a side gallery not typically used for hearings and a location that basically has no place for members of the public to sit. "This is called transparency of government.... What's their next step, holding hearings in their cars?"
The hearing, scheduled for after House morning adjournment tomorrow, is for Representative Stanley Cox's constitutional amendment proposal to mandate photo ID verification in elections. It's an anti-fraud measure that critics say could disenfranchise voters.
It's virtually the same proposal as that of Representative Tony Dugger, who recently told us that there was a lot of negative feedback at his hearing -- which, after some push back, was rescheduled from 6:45 a.m. to a more normal time of 8 a.m.
Newman casts blame for the hearing location tomorrow with Representative Sue Entlicher, a Republican and chair of the House Elections Committee.
"We've never heard of a hearing happening there," Newman says of that location, adding, "The entire House Democratic caucus is totally enraged."
Update, 3:47 p.m: We reached Representative Entlicher this afternoon, who tells us, "There's no underhandedness with this at all."
Entlicher says that the main reason she scheduled the hearing in a non-hearing room is that she didn't realize until recently that it was necessary to have another session on this bill, since it is the same as the one proposed by Representative Dugger.
"I apologize for being ignorant," she says. "We are assuming everyone would have the same arguments [as the last hearing]. But everyone is welcome to come.... We just could not access a hearing room for that time."
She reiterates that "anyone who wants to comment will be able to do so."
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