Friday, January 20, 2017

Speaker of the House reviews lobbying bill, right to work, budget process

(From Speaker of the House Todd Richardson)

The House welcomed Governor Eric Greitens to our chamber on Tuesday to deliver his first State-of-the-State address to a special joint session of the Missouri General Assembly. In his address, Governor Greitens reinforced many of the priorities I laid forth in my opening address, including his commitment to supporting legislation that will improve Missouri’s business climate, ensure our courts system is just for all parties, and continue restoring public trust in government. We were proud to welcome Governor Greitens to the chamber and look forward to continuing our partnership with him. His leadership and commitment to fighting for the people of Missouri is a welcome and much-needed change. Below, you will find some highlights of the week addressing priorities close to both the governor and members of the General Assembly.

House Sends Legislation Banning Undue Lobbyist Influence to the Senate

On the opening day of session I stated that legislation banning undue lobbyist influence would be the first bill passed out of the Missouri House of Representatives this session. Last Tuesday my colleagues and I made good on that promise and passed House Bill 60 by a vote of 149-5 and sent what should become the first lobbyist gift ban in the history of Missouri to the Senate for consideration. The measure, sponsored by Rep. Justin Alferman, prohibits individuals from receiving personally consumable gifts from lobbyists. The House majority caucus continues to be committed to giving Missourians a government they can trust and believe in.

Right-to-Work Legislation Receives House Approval

The Missouri House of Representatives gave bipartisan approval to right-to-work legislation this Thursday in the form of House Bills 91, 42, 131, 265, & 314. Handled by HB 91 Sponsor Holly Rehder, this legislation simply ensures that employees are able to decide whether to join a labor union instead of being forced to join as a condition of employment. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, all of the top eight states in nonfarm employment growth from 1998 to 2015 were right-to-work states. Conversely, all of the bottom five states in nonfarm employment growth during that same time period were non-right-to-work states. Stronger employment growth isn’t the only benefit right-to-work states have enjoyed over the past few decades; Real Personal Income for workers has also grown faster in right-to-work states according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Seven of the top ten states in Real Personal Income growth between 2008 and 2014 were right-to-work states and seven of the bottom ten states were non-right-to-work states. In recent years both employment and wages have grown faster in right-to-work states. This legislation is one part of the robust economic development package the General Assembly hopes to pass this year and now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Budget and Appropriations Committees Meet

The House Committee on the Budget, chaired by Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, met for the first time last week to begin work on the budget for the upcoming year. This week the Appropriations Subcommittees on Agriculture, Conservation, Natural Resources and Economic Development chaired by Rep. Craig Redmon, Education chaired by Rep. Lyle Rowland, General Administration chaired by Rep. Kurt Bahr, Health, Mental Health and Social Services chaired by Rep. David Wood and Public Safety, Corrections, Transportation and Revenue chaired by Rep. Kathie Conway heard testimony from relevant state agencies regarding the upcoming budget. The Budget Committee and the Appropriations Subcommittees are entrusted with completely reviewing our state budget every year and ensuring taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely and efficiently. These committees, which play a vital role in the most constitutionally critical duty of the Missouri House, will continue to work to find innovative solutions to increase the efficiency of our government and lower the tax burdens of all Missourians. A budget proposition from Governor Greitens will be considered as part of this process in the near future.

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