State Senator Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown, says this year’s Missouri legislative session has been one of the best he’s been involved in. Of the nearly 2,000 measures filed this session, lawmakers passed about 75 bills.
“If you look at the quality of bills we’ve gotten through this year, I think it is one of the better years I’ve been here, probably the most frustrating but we’ve done a lot of good major bills,” says Munzlinger. “We started out with Right to Work. We’ve done a number of tort reform bills. We’ve done other jobs bills, as well as those bills that each one of our districts wanted us to do. I rate it a pretty good year.”
The Right to Work legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Republican Governor Eric Greitens bars mandatory union fees in the workplace. Another labor bill that crossed the finish line this year includes one that would ban project labor agreements for public construction projects on things like schools and jails. It would also cut state funding to Missouri cities and counties that force non-union contractors to pay workers union wages for those jobs.
Among the changes to tort laws passed include a bill that would make it tougher for employees to win workplace discrimination lawsuits. It would require employees to prove that race, religion, sex or other protected status was the motivating factor for discrimination or being fired. Under the legislation, it would also stop workers from suing their colleagues and limit damages that could be awarded in such lawsuits.
Another tort measure passed would limit the evidence a jury can receive in special damages claims cases. The bill would take into account what the insurance company would pay out, instead of any additional damages beyond what the settlement is.
Governor Greitens has also signed into law legislation that would change the way to determine expert witness testimony in jury court cases. The bill increases the threshold for admitting expert testimony by calling on judges to decide the accuracy of an expert’s conclusions, rather than determining simply whether the witness is qualified as an expert. The new law moves the state legal system in line with the Daubert standard, which makes trial judges the gatekeepers of expert testimony, rather than having juries decide if the information is accurate.
House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty of Kansas City condemns Republicans for passing a minimum wage bill and failing to pass legislation involving ethics and funding for Missouri’s roads and bridges.
The regular session ended Friday.
Greitens has called a special session to begin on Monday. He wants the legislature to address a proposal that would give the Public Service Commission the authority to negotiate power rates for the former Noranda aluminum plant and a new steel mill in the Bootheel.
Bob Ehle of KWIX Radio contributed to this story.