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Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017

The First Half of Session Is Complete

Posted Tuesday, March 20, 2012, at 8:22 AM

We have had an interesting and productive first half of the 2012 legislative session, with several measures passed by both the Missouri Senate and House.

Among the bills that have been passed is Senate Bill 572. This is a measure that takes up where tort reform left off in 2005. Senate Bill 572 would make changes to Missouri's workers' compensation laws.

After the Legislature made improvements to some of these laws back in 2005, judges have found ways to work around them. In doing so, they have made Missouri unfavorable to potential employers who say they would rather not move to a state where co-employee liability is at risk. Co-employee liability is the ability for one employee to sue another over something that may have caused a workers' compensation claim to have been filed. This measure has been sent to the governor.

Another proposal that is currently on the governor's desk is House Bill 1219, which would make changes to discrimination laws in Missouri. This is another offshoot from the tort reform revisions of 2005, and represents another instance where judges have decided to skirt the letter of the law and make their own decisions. Closing this gap would also entice employers to move to Missouri and make our state more business-friendly.

Unfortunately, the governor vetoed both of the above pro-jobs bills.

House Concurrent Resolution 8 also awaits the governor's signature. I filed a resolution similar to this two years ago, after the Missouri Tax Commission voted to raise land valuations for farmers. Nobody likes to see taxes go up, but in an economy like we have now -- and two years ago -- the timing could not be worse. In rejecting the commission's decision, we can save Missouri farmers from having to close up shop and keep folks working in Missouri.

Some of my legislative victories -- so far -- this session include Senate Bill 480, which would expand a sales and use tax exemption on certain motor vehicles and modify the definition of the term "common carrier"; Senate Bill 607, which would establish procedure for resetting billboards during periods of highway construction; and Senate Concurrent Resolution 24, which urges the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to rescind its newly published rule regarding hours of service and refrain from adopting regulations concerning sleep apnea and other measures affecting the trucking industry. All of these measures have been passed in the Missouri Senate.

Next in line will be the budget for Fiscal Year 2013. We have had tight budgets for the past four years, and this year's will be the toughest yet. A lot of the federal dollars we saw over the past three years will not be there this time. I have stressed, over this same period of time, we need to make tough decisions. This year, we cannot afford to put them off any longer. I pray that we can get through this and deliver a balanced budget, on time, to the governor.

There will be other issues of importance between now and the end of session, and I will keep you updated on these as we progress in the Legislature.

Senator Stouffer serves the counties of Carroll, Chariton, Cooper, Howard, Lafayette, Macon, Ray, Saline, and a part of Clay. If you have questions or comments about this or any other issue, please call toll free (866) 768-3987 or by e-mail at bstouffer@senate.mo.gov

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Notice this comment: "judges have found ways to work around them". Sounds like he's setting the stage for another attack on our judicial selection process. He'd rather have a system whereby the judges bought their way into office via unlimited campaign contributions for elections. That way, Sen. Stouffer's followers could buy the judicial decisions they wanted. Maybe the real problem isn't the judges working their way around a law, but the legislators who are apparently not smart enough to write laws that aren't found unconstitutional or aren't so vague that they are open to interpretation. Or sometimes possibly they write laws knowing they will be declared unconstitutional so they can brag about what they've done, knowing that the law won't stand. The most recent example was the law limiting campaign contributions.

-- Posted by cmasretire on Tue, Mar 20, 2012, at 6:49 PM

Well, I see that we are still calling bills that favor employers over employees "pro-jobs."

I guess, with that logic, all laws that restrict employers from taking unfair advantage of employees are "anti-jobs."

Looks to me in reading SB572 that it caps the amount due to an employees survivors when an employee is killed on the job to no more than 105% of the "state average wage," whatever that is. Sounds like this "pro-jobs" bill is actually a "pro-employer" and "anti-employee" bill, therefore the veto.

Similar thing on HB 1219. It appears to cap the damages for an employer with 6 to 100 employees for discrimination in the workplace at $50,000 total. So, most business in Marshall could concievably discriminate at will and only be subject to a $50k penalty. Once again an "anti-employee" bill is called "pro-jobs."

I love politicians and their antics.

-- Posted by Smart Dog on Wed, Mar 21, 2012, at 11:53 AM


Good post because it seems like some of these politicians keep trying to find way to give power to people who have lots of money while at the same time taking away the rights of the people who work the hardest. I would lie to see some pro employee bills come through our congress.

-- Posted by cheesehead on Wed, Mar 21, 2012, at 9:43 PM

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Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, represented the 21st district in the Missouri Senate until January 2013, when he left after reaching established term limits. He is a life-long resident of Saline County, a farmer and small business owner. He and his wife, Sue Ellen, live on their family farm in Napton. He was the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight. He served on a number of other committees, including Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources; Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy & the Environment; Financial & Governmental Organizations & Elections; Joint Interim Committee on School Accreditation; Missouri Alternative Fuels Commission; Missouri Civil Air Patrol; Missouri Military Preparedness and Enhancement Commission; Missouri Senior RX Commission; Alzheimer's State Plan Task Force; Coordinating Council on Special Transportation; and Midwestern Interstate passage Rail Compact Commission.