January 26th, 2017
Missouri Senator Ron Richard’s “Capitol Report” 1/26/17
Three weeks ago, I stated in my first column that reform was the name of the game for the 2017 session. While the Senate is diligently working to address tort reform and regulatory reform, today we took a major step forward in the area of labor reform. Just a few hours ago, state senators voted to make Missouri the 28th Right to Work state by passing Senate Bill 19 to end forced unionism and help create a more competitive business climate.
Besides the advantages of increased jobs and economic growth, Right to Work is the single biggest policy that can help protect a worker’s freedom to choose whether a union works for them. Organized labor’s chief selling point has always been that union representatives are able to negotiate the best possible deal for workers, but time has shown us that is not always the case. Right to Work laws hold unions accountable and encourage them to work hard to represent the best interests of their members. They benefit businesses, employees, the employees’ families and even the unions themselves.
It is also important to keep in mind that Right to Work, or workers’ choice laws, do not dissolve unions — the only thing they do is prevent forced unionism. Research confirms that in Right to Work states, unions pay more attention to their members. This has actually led to increased union participation in many cases. Senate Bill 19 does include a grandfather clause in order to protect Missouri from the threat of a future lawsuit. The clause allows currents contracts to remain in effect until they expire; once expired, they cannot be renewed. The clause will not affect any new business coming into the state.
In order for the Show-Me State to be competitive with our surrounding states, we must foster a better environment for our communities, businesses and Missouri families. By allowing workers’ choice, we are cultivating a free and fair environment in our state. While SB 19 must still go through the same legislative process on the House side, I am proud of how hard everyone worked in order to quickly move this important initiative through the Senate.
In other news, Missouri’s attorney general announced Jan. 19 that Missouri has joined 12 other states in suing the Obama Administration over burdensome regulations pertaining to coal mines. The suit, Ohio et al v. Department of Interior, alleges that regulations issues by the DOI’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement on Dec. 20, 2016, seriously overstep their authority and violate federal law. To add insult to injury, the agency aimed to make the rule effective on the eve of the former president’s last day in office — Jan. 19, 2017.
In his announcement, Missouri’s attorney general said: “The Obama Administration has no authority to issue these regulations. They will drive up the cost of energy for Missouri families and hurt Missouri workers … These draconian regulations by the Obama Administration are exactly the kind of federal overreach that is holding Missouri’s economy back.”
I absolutely agree with our new attorney general, and I greatly appreciate his efforts to stand up for Missouri families and against another gross display of federal overreach and secretive midnight regulations. The hardworking people of our state, and our entire country, deserve better.