If you’re on social media, at all, you’ve probably seen the slide show talking about nine introduced to the House of Representatives in the last couple of months that are kind of scary. Like everyone else, I figured it started on a fake news site and didn’t pay much attention. Then I found it most of it was true. The nice thing is we have to get things passed by more than just the House of Representatives to become law. However, there are a few of them, that I’m just not sure about.
- HR 861 – The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018. That’s the entire bill. The general thought behind it is that states would take over monitoring and policing their environments. Something most states can’t currently afford to do. What’s worse is that the EPA takes care of what’s known as SuperFund Sites. These are places where toxins ruined the environment and made entire towns move. We have a few in Missouri, but I’m only familiar with one of them; Herculaneum. The EPA has been working with the State of Missouri for more than two decades to clean up Herculaneum, a ghost town created by pollutants that were radioactive. I’ve mentioned before that I worked for an epidemiologist. We spent a lot of time looking for cancer clusters at sites where corporations had been letting their waste into the ground and in many cases, the groundwater. Every time it happened, I worked not just with state officials but with EPA and CDC officials as well. It’s not just about protecting the land, the EPA protects us from companies that don’t give a shit where their toxic waste goes. And I know more than a dozen of these companies from my 4 years in epidemiology.
- H.R. 899 – To terminate the Department of Education by December 31, 2018. On the surface, this doesn’t sound like a bad thing. No more standardized tests or No Child Left Behind legislation. States would become responsible for all education matters. However, when you start to really think about it, it gets a little tricky. Imagine a world with no free lunch programs, because that is a federal mandate. Or imagine a place where dinosaurs are not part of the science and history curriculum (and there have been several school boards trying to remove dinosaurs from both science and history for religious reasons). We are already well behind the rest of world in all areas of education. In some areas, this might actually help. My city for example is a major college town; there is one major university, two colleges, nine branches of other colleges, and a handful of community and votech colleges. We would probably be fine, because we attempt to cater to the education community that thrives around us. As a matter of fact, Columbia, Springfield, Kansas City, and St. Louis would all end up with much different education systems than the rest of Missouri. Because the majority of Missouri is rural. A state like mine would have a hard time justifying school curriculums because we do have such a large demographic shift. We aren’t the only state like this either. Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, California, Washington, Texas, and I can’t even remember all the others have vast population centers, but the majority of the state remains rural. At least with federal mandates on curriculum we sort of how a cohesive education system. A high schooler moving from Omaha, Nebraska to Columbia, Missouri might not have a clue what our school is talking about when they get to a literature class or a history class or a science class if this becomes a state to state thing.
- H.R. 785 – National right-to-work legislation. Missourians have spent decades fighting against Right-To-Work legislation. In theory, it makes it so that you don’t have to join a union to reap the benefits of being union. In reality, Right-To-Work drops prevailing wage for skilled laborers and takes away the power of unions. Our current governor conveniently didn’t mention his stance on Right-To-Work while he was campaigning last year, because if he had, he wouldn’t be governor. Back to the point; the first two bills were about giving power back to states, this one is about taking it away. Oh and teachers, pay attention, because the proposed National right-to-work legislation, dissolves the teachers’ union and your retirement fund. As someone who comes from blue collar roots, Right-To-Work has always been a thorn in my side. My father worked construction and he made significantly less when he had to do jobs in Right-To-Work states than when he worked in states without it. And sadly, that sometimes wasn’t enough to live on. Nothing like making $6.00 an hour to drive a milling machine in the blazing southern sun for 12 hours a day. For those that don’t know, milling machines are giant pieces of equipment that require specialized training to run. In other words, kiss your nice paycheck goodbye if your job required any vocational technical training, because your skills are worth the same amount as flipping hamburgers at McDonald’s, literally. So why do it? It makes the cost of building infrastructure cheaper. Plumbing, HVAC, drywalling, concrete forming, mechanics, and a multitude of other jobs have to lower the cost of their labor and pay their laborers less, which makes the cost of everything drop, theoretically, and it also means all these well paying jobs become barely above minimum wage. I’ve never met a worker that liked Right-To-Work, only the bosses and owners of companies seem to enjoy it. Also, remember I mentioned teachers should pay attention, under the proposed Right-To-Work legislation, you become a skilled laborer which means your piss-poor salary could be diminished even further.
It might be time to stop paying attention to Trump’s twitter account and start paying attention to what the House of Representatives is doing.