Doug Wilson

A few bright spots in gloomy political landscape

Posted: Jul. 16, 2017 12:01 am

There's more than enough negative political news to go around.

Let's change that trend with a few positive developments.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens announced last week that he was ordering a state agency to cut some red tape.

"Earlier this year, a small business owner from Bolivar commented on our Facebook page. He told us about a crazy Missouri regulation that required his business to have a landline phone. It cost him $1,500 a year," Greitens said in a release.

"Based on his suggestion ... we directed the Department of Revenue to kill the requirement the very next day."

In addition, the governor launched a website, to give Missourians a place to point out red tape. A team also has been assembled to review the 113,000 regulations that are on the books in Missouri.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap, said the Peoria Agriculture Research Lab would get funding under a markup by the House Appropriations Committee.

The research lab was left out of the budget proposed by President Donald Trump.

Supporters note that the lab has helped find new uses for crops, cataloged microbes and found ways to improve crop and livestock operations.

In a joint news release, LaHood and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, announced the lab's funding was put in place by the House Appropriations Committee.

LaHood and Bustos represent different parts of Peoria and saw the need to support the lab's operations. They drafted a joint letter and convinced other members of the Illinois delegation -- Republicans and Democrats -- to sign it.

An even greater bipartisan effort has been occurring quietly in the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees in Washington.

Lawmakers unanimously approved the secretary of Veterans Affairs, extended funding for the Veterans Choice Program, and recently passed a law that makes hiring and firing easier within the VA system.

All of this productive and apparently bipartisan work is occurring after the VA got hammered in 2014 after it many of the agency's hospitals were manipulating patient wait times and hiding evidence of mistakes.

U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson, the Republican chairman, and Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana, have found ways to avoid fights and focus on common ground where most lawmakers agree that change is needed.

There's another positive development in Washington, where U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and U.S. Sen. Heidi, Heitkamp, D-N.D., have introduced the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017. The sponsors describe it as a way to demand "transparency, accountability and common sense" in government regulations.

If they're successful, this would be the first major update in regulatory procedures in more than 70 years.

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