JEFFERSON CITY -Rep. Craig Hosmer, D-Springfield, needed money. He wanted to put back funds for alcohol and drug control that had been taken out during the budget process. So he decided to take money from state courts.
Hosmer proposed an amendment that would cut $3.5 million from court automation, a system of connecting all state courts on a computer network. The House passed the amendment, but state judges weren't pleased.
"Judges called and had some concern," he said.
Hosmer tried unsuccessfully to get the money back. Rep. Ted Farnen, D-Mexico, said he thought Hosmer was in a tough position, trying to stay in favor with the judges and the alcohol control supporters. So Farnen decided to lighten things up by suggesting the House replace Hosmer's amendment with the following one.
I'm very sorry for having taken 3.5 million dollars of your court automation money earlier today. I didn't understand what I was doing, and now I know you are sad. Here's your money back, so please don't be mad at me.
Your newest and best friend,
Rep. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, said if Farnen hadn't withdrawn the amendment it would have passed, making the apology letter part of the budget bill.
"People were just rolling laughing," he said. "Hosmer turned beet red."
Farnen said "it was done in good humor. I thought this substitute amendment would be a nice way to lighten up the situation."
Hosmer said he found the amendment "marginally funny."
Farnen said he withdrew the amendment because "that's not the kind of thing you have in a budget bill." He said he just wanted to "lighten up the atmosphere without taking up a lot of time."
Farnen has also compiled a list of 32 cliche phrases used in the House including "This is a simple amendment," "This puts the camel's nose under the tent" and "We have entered a new millennium."
Since term limits will keep many representatives from returning, Farnen added a new cliche to the list this session: "I'm not going to be around next year, but..."
He passed out copies of his numbered list to House members, instructing them to just use the number of the phrase rather than the words in order to save time.
Farnen said his efforts at humor are not in lieu of serious legislation, but he thinks having a sense of humor is important.
"You have to have a sense of humor about yourself, no matter what your job is," he said. "I think having a sense of humor makes any job more enjoyable."