Going quietly into the night, the Missouri Legislature ended its 2016 session one month ago, with far less chaos and calamity compared to 2015.

Going quietly into the night, the Missouri Legislature ended its 2016 session one month ago, with far less chaos and calamity compared to 2015.

With a prominent suicide, sex scandals and other distractions, 2015 was basically a lost year, with much of the end-of-session marred by the resignation of the Speaker of the House. The disastrous 2015 session made the work in 2016 even more important, as lawmakers had to hustle to save a General Assembly before the 2016 election.

In many ways, the Legislature succeeded in surpassing the woeful 2015 session. Ethics legislation finally hit the governor’s desk, a long overdue effort to curb corruption in Jefferson City, which had become a model for how not to run a state capitol. A few important agriculture bills hit the governor’s desk. Funding for education will get a $70 million boosts, a point of celebration for just about everyone (who’s going to go against the kids, really?).

But in more than one way, the Legislature failed Missourians seeking answers to some top issues the state faces as it moves forward.

Case in point: opioid tracking and the creation of a prescription drug monitoring program failed to get through the Legislature again. Missouri will still be the only state in the country without a drug monitoring program. Law enforcement agencies will be forced to continue to pick up the slack for the lack of action on this critical issue, which has proven results in other states reducing the purchase of opioids used for the production of illegal drugs.

This issue, though, did experience some movement, with House Bill 1892 passing the House of Representatives — no thanks to Rep. Lindell Shumake (R-Hannibal) and Rep. Jim Hansen (R-Frankford), who voted against the measure. The bill failed to pass the overwhelmingly Republican Senate, signaling the death to a critical piece of legislation Missouri needs.

Roads: Congress did its part (believe it or not), but the Missouri Legislature did not. Missouri has one of the most extensive road systems maintained by a state agency and many of the roads are in a significant state of decay. Congress finally enacted a longer-term transportation bill that better funds the Missouri Department of Transportation, but a better solution will be needed in the long-term. The Legislature didn’t make any significant strides toward reviving a crippled system. The gas tax is still the lowest in the Midwest.

And although the Champ Clark Bridge in Louisiana is now on the docket for replacement, it won’t be too much longer until another major water crossing in need of replacement will be denied because a viable solution wasn’t addressed now.

Let’s circle back to ethics reform. Yes, the Legislature made some needed progress. But, as Gov. Jay Nixon said, they can’t dislocate their arms patting themselves on the back, because the job was only half done. There’s now a wait period before former lawmakers can become lobbyists. That’s good.

But there’s still no campaign contribution cap, which means Missouri political mega-donors like Rex Sinquefield, the most famous (infamous?) of the mega-donors still will have enormous power in election years, giving superior funding to candidates and issues of his choosing.

Criticizing politics is like a national sports — second to baseball, of course — because of the diversity of people and philosophies in the state.

But most people can agree: government works best when it is transparent and communicative with constituents.

Perhaps the most troubling issue to arise from the 2016 Legislative session is the weakening of the Missouri Sunshine Law — the rule that allows regular citizens, not just the press, to ask for documents and information from any publicly-funded entity.

That tool, which is used to keep government accountable, withstood attack from legislators during the session.

They claimed their emails were not subject to Missouri Sunshine Law. Out of four top legislators, only one turned over appropriate emails to the Associated Press.

Laws enacted are designed to exempt information from Sunshine Law requests, including police information and agricultural information.

Open, transparent government best serves the people. The Missouri Legislature took a step back from that this year, a disappointing mark on what could be considered a successful year.