Missouri GOP’s Newest Attack on Women

When will the GOP stop denying that they have started a war against women?

A war that is moving from the medical front, by denying health care to women by seeking new methods of closing down health clinics, to the political and education fronts.

I know that the “war on women” cliche is becoming a bit old. Yet, when a GOP woman spearheads an attack against all women and a “non-partisan, non-issue institute focused on making government accessible to all Missouri citizens by encouraging women’s full participation in the policy process,” something is amiss.

Sen. Jane Cunningham

That organization is the Sue Shears Institute for Women in Public Life and it appears to be under attack by Missouri Sen. Jane Cunningham (R- Chesterfield), who attempting to attached a devastating amendment to one of the Missouri budget bills.

Why simply “appears?” Because the amendment has not been released to the public.

This attack also concerns the passing of the state budget in its entirety and that is just plain unthinkable and an untenable position. 

Why attack the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the Spear Institute?

According to Sen. Jason Crowell (R- Cape Girardeau), the GOP does not want “taxpayer dollars to subsidize political careers.” More specifically, Democratic  and liberal women’s political careers.

Vivian Eveloff

Vivian Eveloff, the director of the Shear Institute, told me that the Institute has no idea what party or ideology their participants maintain. Eveloff maintains that the language of prohibited acts in the amendment specifically mirrors the goals of the Institute.

This legislation is solely aimed at one institution and the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

The Institute’s participants come from all of the MU system schools without regard for political affiliation or ideology. Eveloff was surprised by the numerous letters and emails of support from former graduates as the news leaked out who stated their GOP and conservative affiliations.

Unfortunately, I cannot get a copy of the proposed amendment from the state. Why?

In an attempt to get a copy, I attempted contacting Senator Cunningham’s office, but her voice mail is full and her office has not replied to my email as of this writing.

I did get into the voice mail of Senator Jason Crowell, R- Cape Girardeau and Veteran’s Affairs committee chairman, left a message, identifying myself as a journalist, which remains unanswered.

State Senator Kurt Schaffer’s office, R-Columbia, did answer the telephone but was unable to help. It seems that the amendment will remain missing in action.

It took a a request to the Shear Institutite to get a copy of the bill.

SCSHSHB1731 will replace RSMo 42.300, “Fund created, use of moneys–interest–appropriation of moneys to another fund–audit of fund.” in the Veteran’s Affairs section of our statutes. Don’t try to look it up on the bill tracker site – it is simply not there.

Part of the problem appears to be the Senate’s own inattention of posting proposed amendments to the State of Missouri’s Bill Tracking site. The proposed amendment is just not available to the public.

What does the proposed amendment say?  Stuck in the middle of the amendment, hidden from sight, is a statement essentially outlawing the Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life, and permitting the state to sue any public entity or employee who does associate with the Institute.  With special thanks to the Institute, here it is my friends:

Section 1. No public institution of higher education or campus thereof, political subdivision, governmental entity, quasi-governmental entity, division, board, commission, committee, council, state department or agency, instrumentality, public officer, employee of the state, or private entity shall operate the Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life, any successor entity to the Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life, or any other institute that engages in political activity or whose operations consist of the following, or have any connection whatsoever in the furtherance of the following:

(1) Tracking the participation of women at various levels of government;

(2) Increasing the presence of women on boards and commissions;

(3) Training college women leaders;

(4) Increasing the number of women in policy making positions in government;

(5) Encouraging women to seek public office

2. Any taxpayer of the state or any member of the general assembly shall have standing to bring suit against the state of Missouri or any official, department, division, agency, board, commission, committee, council, political subdivision of this state, public officer, quasi-governmental entity, employee of this state, or private entity which is in violation of this section in any court with jurisdiction to enforce the provisions of this section.

You can find the five forbidden acts in the Institute’s mission statement.

(With the help of my friend Vicki Englund, Director, Lindbergh Schools Board of Education, here is the public version found buried in an amendment to a different bill, SB-455 – 4233L05.07H.)

This is not just a war on women, it is now the newest propaganda move by the Republicans, who are kowtowing to the politically extreme conservatives. They are licking tea party boots and the citizens are suffering. They are identifying our public post-secondary schools with the “liberal” label, which to them is the definition of evil and amoral behavior. They are saying, “If you do not pass this, you will be holding up the budget process and you are against veterans.”

Maybe it is time the Missouri GOP looks at itself in the mirror.

There is no reason why a state senator’s office does not answer the telephone or return voice and emails during session, or for that matter between sessions. The only possible but ill-advise reason would be to lock the citizens and the press out of the governmental process, to reduce the citizen’s say to zero.

I praise Sen. Schaefer for taking his stance against this proposed amendment. This is the right and ethical thing to do. I can only assume and hope that others in the GOP recognize the stupidity of such an attack.

Republican women must be frustrated and angry with their party for allowing such actions to take place. This should be exceptionally angering to younger women, liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat, who wish to enter the world of politics while watching the GOP attack the Sue Shear Institute as a form of propaganda.

Missouri Republicans, you are on notice. This battle will only cause you loses in November. The GOP has already lost a large percentage of women voter because of their anti-choice and anti-family medical positions, why are they allowing Cunningham to make things worse?

Seeing that Cunningham’s office cannot receive telephone messages, I urge you to email, or better write her (201 W Capitol Ave., Rm. 321  Jefferson City, Missouri 65101- 1556) and tell Senator Cunningham back off now or you will work to unseat her and her ilk in the next election. Then do the same to those that have supported this amendment.

But you only have until Friday to so this.


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About David Rosman

David is the winner of the Missouri Press Foundation's "Best Columnist" in 2013 (First Place) and 2014 (Second Place), the 2016 Harold Riback Award for excellence in writing, and the winner of the 2007 Interactive Media Award for excellence in editing.
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