Gov. Eric Greitens delivered his highly anticipated first State of the State Address this week. He broke from tradition and did not use the speech to unveil his budget priorities or release his budget requests to the General Assembly. Instead, he focused on the policy changes that he would like to make. Reform was the theme of the night:
- Ethics reform: ban all gifts from lobbyists to elected officials; prohibit elected officials from becoming lobbyists for a certain period after their service; and create term limits for the Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, and Auditor.
- Labor reform: pass a Right-to-Work law; eliminate Project Labor Agreements; and eliminate Prevailing Wage laws.
- Tort reform: move to the Daubert standard for expert witness testimony; change joinder and venue rules to end out of state lawsuits; and reform the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.
- Regulatory reform: place a freeze on the creation of new regulations and conduct a complete review of every regulation in the state.
- Civil service reform: reduce the number of state employees and pay the ones we have better.
- Tax credit reform: with a team of “outsiders and legislators”, he will conduct a thorough, end-to-end audit of the tax credit system.
- Welfare reform: rebuild the welfare system so that individuals are no longer incentivized to earn less money.
- Public safety: update peace officers’ standards and training; establish a Blue Alert system; pass the toughest laws in the country for anyone who assaults a peace officer; equip peace officers with nonlethal tools and adequate body armor; aggressively apply for Homeland Security, AFG and SAFER Grants; and make it easier for military police officers and firefighters to come back home and serve as police officers and firefighters.
- Corrections reform: engage the faith community to work within our prisons.
- Education reform: pay teachers more and protect their pensions; expand access to Advanced Placement classes; and implement Education Savings Accounts for children with special needs.
Gov. Greitens has indicated that he will release his requests for the Fiscal Year 2018 budget to the General Assembly by February 1. His budget requests are expected to cut approximately $500 million from the 2017 budget.
Legislature Continues Moving Priorities
Right to Work
After hours of heated debate, the Missouri House of Representatives passed Holly Rehder’s (R-Sikeston)Right to Work bill by a vote of 100-59. The bill will now go to the Missouri Senate. The legislation is expected to have any easy path through the committee process as the Senate General Laws committee already approved a similar measure sponsored by Senator Dan Brown (R-Rolla). Though there is little doubt the Senate will send this bill to Governor Greitens, it is expected that the Senate will have a lively debate over the bill as Senate Democrats will fight hard to protect the unions who are vehemently opposed to Missouri becoming a right to work state.
The Senate Government Reform Committee held a hearing on President Pro-Tem Ron Richard’s (R-Joplin) tort reform bill that deals with merchandising practices and venue reform. This committee also voted to approve Senator Ed Emery’s (R-Barton County) collateral source legislation. The House is also moving quickly on several tort reform measures as the House Litigation Reform Committee heard Kevin Corlew’s (R-Kansas City) expert witness bill and Joe Don McGaugh’s (R-Carrollton) collateral source bill. These hearings will resume next week.
Senator Bob Onder’s (R-St. Charles) legislation that would create a statewide regulatory framework for companies like Uber and Lyft was heard in the Senate Transportation committee this week and is expected to be voted on by that committee late next week. Similar legislation is expected to be debated on the House Floor next week.
Senators Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) and Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) presented their identical bills that would repeal a law barring Missouri’s Department of Revenue from issuing a federally required driver’s license known as Real-Time ID. The legislation would also allow the Department of Revenue to continue issuing the old license to those Missourians that remain concerned about the federal government collecting data on individual citizens. If Missouri does not begin allowing the issuance of Real-Time IDs, in January 2018, Missourians will not be able to board a domestic flight anywhere in the United States without a passport and will not be able to enter military bases. Forty-three other states have already complied with the federal law.
Governor Greitens’ Appointments
Director, Department of Natural Resources-Carol Comer, currently leading Indiana’s Department of Environmental Management
Department Directors still to be named:
- Department of Insurance
- Department of Economic Development
- Department of Health and Senior Services
- Department of Social Services
- Department of Revenue