Senate releases mid-session review
JEFFERSON CITYóWhen Missouri senators head back to their districts this weekend, they can celebrate one of the most successful starts in the stateís history. At the beginning of session, Senate leaders in the majority rolled out their three-legged plan to help create more economic development opportunities for the Show-Me State. Those legs include labor reform, tort reform and regulatory reform.
Senate Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said he and his colleagues are following through on the promises they made at the start of the new year.
"In January, we pledged to make Missouri more competitive with our neighbors," said Richard. "Every piece of legislation the Senate has passed so far has been an effort to make the Show-Me State more attractive to investments. We are focused on legislation that will help facilitate economic growth and build stronger communities across the state."
Sen. Richard said labor reform is a top legislative issue, and reforming some of our stateís labor laws will fundamentally change the way Missouri does business.
The first big move of session was to pass Right to Work legislation. Within the first month of session, the General Assembly put the measure on the governorís desk for his signature. Right to work, Senate Bill 19, will go into effect on Aug. 28, 2017.
Also passed by the Senate is Senate Bill 182, which will end the practice of Project Labor Agreements. Project Labor Agreements drive up the cost of construction by excluding nonunion contractors and their skilled employees from building projects paid for by their own communityís tax dollars.
A second priority for the Legislature is tort reform. Recent reports have ranked St. Louis as the number one judicial hellhole in the country. Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, said tort reform is critical to Missouriís economic development potential.
"Missouriís unfair and outdated civil judicial system has forced businesses and job creators out of the state," said Kehoe. "Tort reforms have positive impacts not only on our legal system, but in our communities as well. These reforms create a better business climate, so businesses can hire employees rather than waste money on frivolous lawsuits."
Tort Reform efforts include:
∑ Senate Bill 31, which strengthens the stateís Collateral Source Rule.
∑ Senate Bill 43, which modifies the stateís employment discrimination law.
∑ Senate Bill 45, which modifies laws regarding arbitration agreements between employers and at-will employees.
∑ Senate Bill 113, which modifies the law relating to discharge of employees under workers' compensation statutes.
∑ Senate Bill 237, which modifies definitions of "employee" and "physician employee" in actions against health care providers for personal injury or death.
Also a priority this session is regulatory reform.
"We need to create a better and more efficient government that allows businesses in Missouri to grow and makes Missouri more appealing to businesses looking to move," said Kehoe. "With a more efficient government, we can reduce harmful red tape and end the overreach of government."
Senate Bill 16, approved by the Senate, exempts delivery charges from sales and use taxes. A recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling opened the door to more taxes on consumers. This measure clears up any confusion on the collecting of sales tax on delivery charges. Senate Bill 16 ensures the Department of Revenue does not overreach its authority by creating unfair and unnecessary taxes on consumers and businesses.
Senate Leader Richard said these three legs of reform will allow businesses the opportunity to create better jobs with growing incomes and will lead to stronger economic growth, transforming Missouri into a pro-worker state.
"Letís be competitive with our surrounding states. Letís foster a better environment for our communities, businesses and Missouri families. If we can accomplish that this session, we will have achieved our Missouri miracle," said Richard.
The Senate will reconvene on Monday, March 27, 2017. For more on these measures and others, visit www.senate.mo.gov.