Building a Job-Friendly, Pro-Worker Environment
The first time I walked into the beautiful and historic Capitol building as an elected official, I thought, well what I am I going to do next? It didn’t take me long to realize what our state needed was exactly what I worked on doing as mayor of Joplin – job creation. Since that first day, my number one priority in the Legislature has been finding ways, some new and some innovative, to create jobs in our communities.
Jobs equal opportunity. Opportunity leads to building a meaningful life. Opportunity means finding your passion and using your talents to create a life that gives you a sense of self-worth. I want Missourians to be able to build better lives for themselves. But, we can’t get there until we create a more job-friendly, pro-worker environment in the Show-Me State.
Over the last couple of decades, Missouri has lost opportunities and population to our neighboring states. If we want to be competitive once again, we must accomplish three main things: labor reform, tort reform, and regulatory reform. All three were priorities I set out in January to achieve by the end of session. While it was an aggressive plan, I’m proud to say we were very successful. We have accomplished more this year than I ever thought I would see in my lifetime.
While this session seemed frustrating at times, the quality of the bills passed is much more important than the quantity. Within the first month of session, we passed and the governor signed much-needed right to work legislation. We will hold unions more accountable and will encourage unions to work harder to represent the interests of their members.
A second bill, already signed by the governor, aligns Missouri’s outdated expert witness standard with a similar standard found in the federal court system and most other states. St. Louis is ranked the “biggest judicial hellhole” in the country by the American Tort Reform Association partly due to the lack of the Daubert Standard. Thanks to this common-sense legislation, Missouri will become the 43rd state to adopt a standard similar to the Daubert Standard. Since then we have sent 11 more tort reform bills to the governor.
A third measure the governor has signed, and the third leg of reform, regulatory reform, is House Bill 130, known as the Uber bill. This bill creates framework for the regulatory treatment of transportation network companies. The measure was necessary because current Missouri regulations are so burdensome many Transportation Network Companies can’t operate in the state which decreases competition in the marketplace. If we can allow technological and logistical innovation in the transportation industry, we can promote choice and competition which helps grow the economy. We also passed a bill that would officially exempt delivery charges from the state sales tax if they are separately stated and within an industry standard range (usual and customary). The measure also ensures the Department of Revenue does not overreach its authority by creating unfair and unnecessary taxes on consumers and businesses.
You will be able to see the results of some of the work we did this session soon in your community. Others might take time before you can witness the ripple effect. My hope is that we have begun to create a more business-friendly environment, that we are putting people back to work, and that we are fundamentally changing the lives of the people we represent. The work is not done. We are already planning for next year. As legislators now return home, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us and let us know the impact these reforms have on the Show-Me State.
Senate Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin