Missouri Week of Feb 3, 2017

The Missouri General Assembly officially passed a bill that would make Missouri a Right-to-Work state and is continuing to work on other priority legislation such as ethics reform, tort reform, and prevailing wage.  With the Legislative Spring Break only six weeks away, the House and Senate are making quick strides to accomplish their legislative priorities. 

 

Greitens’ Calls-out Hoskins and Wieland

On Monday evening, the Missouri Senate spent seven hours discussing legislation that would reject a pay increase for elected officials.  The Independent Citizens’ Commission on Compensation for Elected Officials recommended a 2% pay increase for lawmakers that would cost the state $1 million over two years.   The House passed the measure to reject the recommended increase in January without any issue.  Ultimately, the Senate passed it as well by a vote of 25-2.  However, that vote did not come without some scathing comments made by Governor Greitens in closed door meetings with Sen. Hoskins (R – Warrensburg) and Sen. Wieland (R – Imperial) for their ‘no’ votes on the measure.  The two Senators held their ground and their beliefs that a pay increase is needed in order to attract the top possible candidates to run for office in the state of Missouri. 

 

Governor Greitens took to Facebook the following day to criticize the Missouri Senate for spending so much time talking about paying themselves more and referred to the debate as, “a pathetic display.”  After the social media posts by the Governor, many Senators voiced their opinions that they did not appreciate the Governor’s comments and disrespect to the upper chamber. 

 

Right-to-Work

The Missouri House of Representatives passed the Senate’s version of Right-to-Work this week, making it the first bill to move to Governor Greitens’ desk.  SS #2 / SB 19 gives employees the right to maintain employment without having to pay for any part of the cost of union representation.  The measure also includes a grandfather clause for any agreement between an employer and a labor organization entered into before the effective date of Right-to-Work being implemented in the state.  This will become effective on August 28, 2017.

 

Governor Greitens is expected to sign the bill and make Missouri the 28th Right-to-Work state in the United States.

 

Tort Reform

The House of Representatives got started on another Republican priority of the year by working on potential tort reform measures this week.  Over thirty bills related to tort reform have been filed so far this session.  Republicans believe in order to attract new businesses to the state and retain current companies, the state must tighten its litigation laws. 

 

Missouri Budget

Governor Greitens unveiled his Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) Budget on Thursday, February 2nd.  Traditionally, Governor’s budgets are presented during the State of the State address. Greitens took a new approach and presented his budget two weeks after the State of the State Address at a public school in Nixa, Missouri.  You may review his proposed FY18 executive budget per department at the following link:  https://oa.mo.gov/fiscal-year-2018-executive-budget

 

Governor Greitens’ speech began with blame and finger pointing toward “insiders, special interests, and lobbyists” for creating the state’s budget mess.   He never mentioned the reality that our states poor revenue and tax collections as being the driving force to the current unhealthy budget situation.  The month of January data shows positive growth is occurring in the state, but so far it is not enough to make up for the gap between income versus expenses.

 

The proposed budget cuts $572 million in spending across state programs and services and eliminates 188 state jobs from the payrolls.  The Governor says he is committed to using the state’s taxpayer dollars wisely while continuing to maintain our AAA credit rating.  He vows to make the tough decisions needed to bring new higher-paying jobs to our state. 

 

The Governor’s core priorities that are being protected in the proposed budget include funding for K-12 education, public safety, domestic violence shelters, fighting the state’s opioid epidemic, and children with special needs.  The proposed budget will go before the House Budget Committee as early as next week.   Committee members will have the opportunity to hear from each department to explain each item or reduction proposed by Governor Greitens.

 

Other Bills of Interest

SCS / SB 43 – sponsored by Sen. Romine (R – Farmington) modifies and creates new provisions relating to unlawful discrimination practices.  This bill was voted out “do pass” from the Senate Small Business and Industry Committee on Tuesday, January 31st.  The bill now awaits placement on the Senate calendar for debate.

 

HB 153 – sponsored by Rep. Corlew (R – Kansas City) modifies provisions relating to expert witnesses.  This bill was given first round approval on the House Floor on Tuesday, January 31st with one amendment.  The amendment excludes the probate division and all actions in which there is no right to a jury trial.  On Thursday, February 2nd the bill was third read and passed on the House floor and now moves to the Senate to await committee assignment.

 

Hearing Notice

SB 105 – sponsored by Sen. Wallingford is the streamline sales tax bill.  This bill will be heard next Tuesday, February 7th at 8:30 a.m. in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.