Letter to the Editor

Lipke's ouster is Missouri's loss

Friday, February 9, 2007

To the editor:Like Cape Girardeau County Sheriff John Jordan and others in the law enforcement and legal communities, I too am discouraged by House Speaker Rod Jetton's decision to oust state Rep. Scott Lipke as chairman of the House Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee.

Protecting Missourians from criminals isn't a partisan issue. During his two-year tenure running the crime prevention committee, Lipke was quick to embrace good ideas offered by Democrats to make Missouri a safer place. Some of my proposals -- such as denying bail to convicted sex offenders awaiting appeal, allowing child-endangerment charges to be brought against those who cook methamphetamine around children and repealing a law that allowed early release for felony offenders -- were among the many Democratic bills Rep. Lipke helped enact into law.

As leader of the minority party in the House, I am used to watching Speaker Jetton attempt to marginalize skilled Democratic representatives. I never expected the speaker would subject one of the House's most talented Republicans to the same treatment.

Although I am confident his replacement, state Rep. Mark Bruns, will uphold the same standard of bipartisanship, Lipke's removal as crime prevention chairman is a loss for Southeast Missouri and the entire state.

JEFF HARRIS, State Representative, 23rd District, Columbia, Mo.