In his weekly report, Sen. Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles County, says Senate Republicans have succeeded in doing exactly what they intended to do during the first half of this year's legislative session:
In December, the Senate Republican caucus met to talk about priorities for the upcoming legislative session in Jefferson City. During the course of these meetings we developed a list of priorities to guide our caucus over the next few months.
Instead of handouts, we agreed to advance policies that would offer a “hand up.” It was clear to us that we must create an environment where businesses, both big and small, could flourish. This, in turn, would allow businesses to expand and to invest in talented people. I am pleased to say that at the halfway mark in the 2011 legislative session we have passed that agenda and have sent it on to the Missouri House for their consideration.
To briefly recap, since January we have passed legislation (Senate Bill 19) that removes the punitive double-taxation known as the franchise tax on businesses that want to expand in Missouri. We have also moved to restore balance in the arena of lawsuits brought against employers for alleged discrimination. Over the past several years Missouri courts had opened the doors to litigation and had created an unreasonable set of rules which went well beyond even what was allowed under federal law. With the passage of SB 188 we seek to reign in the abuses and to chart a new course.
Finally, this week we passed legislation in the form of Senate Bill 8 which protects employees from being personally sued by coworkers for ordinary mistakes made in the normal course of their duties. This bill also gives businesses more financial certainty as they try to make a profit and pay their employees by making sure that normal workplace accidents and illnesses stay within the workers’ compensation system. A special carve-out was created to make sure that any business that intentionally harms an employee would not be allowed to recoup what they paid out in workers’ comp benefits from any judgment that particular employee received in court.
Looking forward to the last half of the legislative session we have many more things we hope to accomplish. The Senate plans to tackle the 2012 state budget and to enact some reforms that will produce savings and efficiencies down the road. We also are working to finish crafting Missouri’s eight Congressional districts now that the final census numbers have been released.
In the next few weeks we also plan to take up issues that are important from a social perspective with the goal of protecting the weakest and most vulnerable among us. This includes passing legislation to reduce the number of abortions in Missouri. We also plan to update our laws to protect women and children from the scourge of human trafficking that, while often unnoticed, is far too prevalent in our society.