- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jan. 28

Room for interpretation? Attorney general’s office, under Josh Hawley, finds Constitution surprisingly malleable.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s view of government is rooted in 1787, or in Missouri’s case in 1820, and he plans to keep it there. Hawley’s view of law is that the way they wrote the U.S. Constitution and the Missouri Constitution is the way it should be for all time. There is no room for interpretation for modern times.

With no small amount of logical acrobatics, that’s the framework Deputy Attorney General Michael Martinich-Sauter used in a legal analysis that says Hawley can live 24 miles from the seat of government in Jefferson City and still be in compliance with a law saying he must “reside at the seat of government.”

The two determined that the original legislative intent of the statute was to ensure the attorney general was present to conduct business at the Capitol. Since modern day conveyances make it easy for Hawley to be at the Supreme Court in roughly 15 minutes from his residence in Columbia, the legal analysis says he doesn’t have to live in Jefferson City. Of course, that’s their interpretation.

We agree that planes, trains and automobiles make it easy to travel greater distances in shorter periods of time than when the residency statute to the Missouri Constitution was adopted in 1835. But whose crystal ball are they looking into to determine original legislative intent?

In Missouri, Jefferson City is the seat of government. It’s not the easiest place to get to, and may not have the most amenities, but it is the state capital. Hawley, his wife and two sons live on 10 acres on the south edge of Columbia, about 24 miles north of Jefferson City. In 1835, at 24-mile journey would take up the better part of a day, which would have made Columbia unacceptable as an elected state official’s residence.

Hawley campaigned as an originalist constitutional lawyer. He attended Yale Law School, where he led the conservative Yale Federalist Society. Before his election, Hawley was a law professor at the University of Missouri, where his wife still teaches.

It’s troubling that one of Hawley’s first acts as Missouri’s new attorney general was to proffer a deputy’s legal interpretation of the constitution that benefits the boss. The slope gets pretty slippery down that route.

Martinich-Sauter’s analysis says that because Hawley’s residence is within ordinary commuting distance of the capital, it is “at the seat of government.” That may be true, but for most people, the words “reside at” don’t mean “near.”

Where Hawley lives isn’t the point. We completely agree that it’s silly to quibble over 24 miles. Our issue is with this obviously selective legal interpretation, solicited from someone who has every reason to produce a result pleasing to the boss. That’s not how Hawley promised to lead.

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Springfield News-Leader, Jan. 28

Drury takes charge of hazing situation

A week ago, we used this space to ask Drury University to be strong in its response to hazing. We wanted clear messages, an actionable plan and leadership.

That’s exactly what they’ve given this community.

The university announced Monday that its longtime swimming coach will step away from day-to-day coaching duties to be part of a committee focused on a new program designed to be a national standard in the elimination of hazing.

They’ve set a bold goal and should be applauded and supported.

Drury President Tim Cloyd has also given this committee the authority to increase hazing penalties.

“I expect there to be enough meat on the bone for people to stand up and take notice,” Cloyd said during a news conference. “If we say zero tolerance, we will mean zero tolerance.”

Where there were occasionally mixed messages before about Drury’s approach to hazing, there is now a clear direction.

“Let me assure you, on an issue as important as hazing, the only question and discussion has to be how to eliminate it,” Cloyd said during the news conference. “Not minimize it. Not nostalgically idealize it. Not to secretly sanctify it. But to eliminate it.”

It was also reassuring to hear from the coach, Brian Reynolds, who appears to be taking this responsibility seriously. He said this new goal is more important than any other at this point of his career.

When the new plan was announced, many looked to the swimmer, Evan Petrich, who disclosed his experience with hazing. We wanted to see how someone who had been subjected to hazing felt about the steps Drury is taking.

He gave it a seal of approval.

“I think this is the best possible option that could have come out of this situation,” he said.

If the university is able to develop an effective plan, we hope schools around the country will take notice and adopt similar policies.

Drury didn’t have to do this. University leaders could have leaned on the changes they had already made and decided that was good enough.

But they’re doing the hard work because it’s important. It’s a way to protect future athletes or other students from being subjected to hazing, and it’s a clear message to their small community and our larger one - hazing won’t be tolerated.

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The Joplin Globe, Jan. 27

Go forward on Keystone, but with some caveats

President Donald Trump signed an executive action this week pushing forward the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline, which will run from Canada through the Midwest to U.S. refineries along the Gulf Coast. (Former President Barack Obama had killed the proposal in late 2015.)

We’ve long supported the Keystone pipeline but with stipulations we hope the new president will consider:

. First, Keystone has to be part of a long-term national energy strategy that moves America away from overseas oil - Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, for example, provided 20 percent of our imported oil in 2015 - and toward a goal of North American energy independence.

One of our greatest vulnerabilities - militarily, economically and even environmentally - is our dependence on oil from unstable, violent and hostile corners of the world, some of which serve as pipelines that send U.S. oil money to terrorists.

A couple of years ago, at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting, retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James L. Jones said Keystone was of “strategic” importance to the United States. He also noted that America’s 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain primarily to secure free passage of crude oil through the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz to the rest of the world.

“Why would the United States spend billions of dollars and place our military personnel at risk to ensure the flow of energy half a world away but neglect an opportunity to enable the flow of energy in our very own backyard - creating jobs, tax revenue and greater security?” Jones wondered.

Keystone should also be accompanied by administration efforts to advance wind, solar and biofuels as part of the goal of energy independence.

. Second, Keystone oil needs to support the president’s “America First” message, and by that we mean that the oil should not be sold overseas. Some critics have called Keystone an “export pipeline.” If that’s the case - meaning big oil companies profit but little else changes for the Americans Trump claims he is fighting for - then forget it.

A number of independent analyses have reported that between 30 and 50 percent of the oil refined on the Gulf Coast today goes overseas as diesel fuel or gasoline and that was part of Obama’s justification for killing the plan in 2015.

But other analyses have concluded that 70 percent of what is pumped through Keystone will remain in the United States.

That’s moving in the right direction.

Congress and President Trump need to require that a certain percentage - at a minimum, we’d recommend 80 percent - of the oil from Keystone remain in the United States, purchased by American refineries to serve American consumers and American interests.

. And finally, Keystone requires a strong Environmental Protection Agency to make sure it is done in the safest, most responsible manner possible. This one has us concerned because Trump, so far, has not shown strong support for the EPA, but we are well aware of the reality of oil spills in Missouri and the need for a strong regulatory framework.

In 1988, a Shell Oil pipeline ruptured in the state and poured more than 860,000 gallons of crude oil into the Gasconade River. It was then the worst inland oil spill in U.S. history and may still rank as such.

For us, Keystone is less about jobs - proponents say it will be an economic boost; critics say it won’t have a significant long-term impact - than about freeing American from dependence on overseas oil. But it must be done in an environmentally responsible way.

If this moves us closer to energy independence and is done responsibly, then full speed ahead.

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St. Joseph News-Press, Jan. 28

KCI: Start over, involve public

The Republican victory in November has changed the rules for getting things done in Washington, D.C.

Perhaps surprising to some, this could work to the benefit of both Republicans and Democrats on one issue of importance to the Midland Empire.

The four-state region is heavily dependent on Kansas City International Airport. This is why both the flying public and many civic leaders have challenged a proposed massive overhaul of the airport that would make needed improvements but also potentially jeopardize the airport’s prized convenience to air travelers.

This $1.2 billion project stalled last year after surveys showed a strong majority of Kansas City voters opposed a plan for demolishing the existing terminals and building a larger, single-terminal hub. That plan would require voter approval, new investments from airlines and new user fees from KCI customers from the region.

Now word comes that proponents of an airport overhaul have wised up to political realities. The Kansas City Star reports backers realize they need to do more to win the support of Republican U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, an ardent critic, who has 16 years of seniority in the House and holds seats on important transportation infrastructure and aviation committees.

Graves hails from Tarkio, in far Northwest Missouri, but his district encompasses much of Kansas City. The Star news report suggests boosters of an airport overhaul made a strategic error:

“Graves was cast by airport supporters as a pest rather than someone whose support could help swing public opinion and federal influence in the airport’s favor.”

Apparently a new view has taken hold over the last several months. It was affirmed after the election and when it became known KCI could be a candidate for federal funding under President Trump’s proposals for a massive program to replace aging infrastructure.

You would have to think that money would be welcomed - and heavily dependent on Graves’ recommendation.

This is where the tide may turn in favor of the public. Graves’ spokesman told The Star he “isn’t against reasonable renovations at KCI, but in his mind, he needs there to be public buy-in for that to happen.”

The spokesman adds: “The way to do that is for the city to start the process over, be more transparent with the public from the get-go, and consider every option.”

Graves is in sync with his constituents on this important issue. It remains to be seen whether boosters of a big airport overhaul are prepared to take a step back, invite the public fully into the process and consider a wider range of options.

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