Members of the House have left Jefferson City for their Easter break, but not before approving a resolution that seeks to clarify the religious rights of public schoolchildren. HJR 19 is sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tem Carl Bearden (R-St. Charles). Bearden says it will guarantee that schoolchildren have a right to pray or otherwise express their faith while attending public school.
But Rep. John Burnett (D-Kansas City) sees something more sinister behind the resolution. Burnett confronts Bearden during House debate, accusing Bearden of pushing the proposal in an effort to drive more conservatives to the polls next November. Burnett says it’s a flawed strategy, but one Republicans have employed in the past.
Bearden denies the charge. He points out he pushed the same resolution last year and it would have been on the ballot outside a general election cycle. Bearden contends that recent court cases and some poor interpretation by school officials have lead to confusio
If the legislature approves the measure, it goes to a vote of the people.
The legislature will take Monday off. Lawmakers return to the Capitol Tuesday afternoon.