House Argues Over Governor\'s Plane During Routine Vote

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri House argued during a routine vote Tuesday over the use of a plane recently purchased by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

The house was debating whether to renew exemptions to the state's open-records law regarding school emergency plans. The argument began when Rep. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, proposed an amendment to make state officials' air travel logs subject to an open records request. After the house voted to adopt this amendment--largely along party lines--Rep. Mark Parkinson, R-St. Charles, proposed another amendment that would restrict the use of state aircraft to the Department of Public Safety, which includes the highway patrol.

Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, attacked the amendment, saying it precluded other state agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture, from using state aircraft.

"That plane is used by the whole government!" he said, adding any state official wanting to use the plane could sign up to do so.

Kevin Engler, a Farmington Republican who returned to the house this year after serving in the senate, also opposed Parkinson's amendment after earlier supporting Hoskins' amendment. He called the plane's purchase "totally out of line," but said Parkinson's amendment took the governor's choice out of the use of state aircraft regardless of whether the governor used them properly.

Parkinson ultimately withdrew the amendment, saying, "A lot of people in this body don't have the stomach to hold the executive on the second floor in this building accountable."

The house gave first-round approval to the bill after adopting another amendment making surveillance video of visitors to the governor's office subject to open-records requests.

Scott Holste, Gov. Nixon's press secretary, said the amendment regarding the governor's travel logs doesn't change anything, noting those records are already public. He refused to comment on the surveillance video amendment.