The Missouri Senate could take up Right-to-Work legislation as early as Monday if it chooses.
The House passed its version and sent it over to the upper chamber last Thursday. Republicans, who dominate the legislature and now control the governor’s seat, have made right-to-work their top priority this session.
Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe of Jefferson City says the Senate won’t waste much time before considering the proposal.
“We’re going to be up for debate on that” said Kehoe. “It’s been a priority issue that everybody’s been talking about now for a long time. It’s been through this chamber before several time, and it’s going to go through it again.”
A right to work law would stipulate that employees can’t be required to join a union as a condition of employment.
After Democratic Governor Jay Nixon vetoed previous right-to-work bills numerous times, Republican Eric Greitens says he’ll quickly sign it into law.
This year, the House passed its version of the bill in near record time, using only two-and-a-half weeks of the current session to do so. But after the House shut down debate on the proposal after a couple of hours, Kehoe has signaled he’ll let opponents make their case in his chamber.
“The Democrats in particular, and maybe quite frankly, a few of our members, would like to have a discussion on right to work. And it certainly is my intention to allow them plenty of time to present their side and talk about the issue.”
With rules differing in the Senate from the House, Democrats there are likely to try and filibuster the legislation on the floor. If successful, it’s not how long they can delay a vote.
In the House, Democrats sought to attach a referendum clause to the measure, which would place the legislation before a public vote, but were denied by the Republican majority.
Although GOP members also dominate the Senate by a similar margin, Minority Floor Leader Gina Walsh of Bellefontaine Neighbors won’t say if Democrats will push for the same stipulation there.
At a press conference last Thursday, Walsh said “You know we’ve been discussing a lot of things and we do have plans, and I’m sharing them. Once you share a secret it’s no longer a secret.”
Republican President Pro-Tem Ron Richard of Joplin flatly said Thursday that Republicans would “beat back” any attempt to seek a referendum clause.
Voters resoundingly rejected a right to work law when it was on the ballot once before in 1978.
The right to work issue played out through campaign donations in the Missouri governor’s race. Democrat Chris Koster was heavily financed by labor groups, while Greitens received large contributions from business owners thought to benefit from a right to work law.