October 4, 2015

Missouri Attorney General: Walgreens still overcharging customers with old tags

Missouri’s attorney general says Walgreens stores are still displaying expired price tags, and that’s causing customers to be overcharged when they check out.

A Walgreens store (courtesy; Walgreens.com)

A Walgreens store (courtesy; Walgreens.com)

Chris Koster has filed a motion for contempt against the Illinois-based pharmacy chain saying its stores routinely display expired tags despite its promise to change that practice. That promise was part of a court settlement it agreed last year, after Koster’s office sued Walgreens over expired tags. Under that agreement, Walgreens said it would remove tags within 12 hours of their expiration.

Koster said his investigators visited 50 Walgreens stores in Missouri between July 26 and September 1 and found more than 1,300 tags displayed past their expiration date. Two expired in 2013.

Walgreens already paid $136,500 for pricing violations discovered in regular, independent audits required under court order. Koster today has asked the Jackson County judge to fine the company up to $5,000 for every expired tag found in recent inspections, plus a penalty for each day expired tags are found in a store.

Koster said under the 2014 court order, a consumer who is overcharged for something that costs $5 or less will receive that item free. Someone overcharged for an item that costs more than $5 will receive a $10 Walgreens gift card and can purchase the item for the lowest advertised price.

‘Right to work’ legislation dies in Missouri veto session

Missouri will not in 2015 become a “right to work” state. The bill received more favorable votes in the state House in today’s veto session than it did in May, but still fell 13 votes short of enough to override Governor Jay Nixon’s (D) veto.

House Speaker Todd Richards (left) speaks to the "right to work" bill's sponsor, Representative Eric Burlison. (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

House Speaker Todd Richards (left) speaks to the “right to work” bill’s sponsor, Representative Eric Burlison. (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Members of the House debated the measure, at times emotionally, for about two hours, but leadership waited less than two minutes for all votes to be cast, knowing there was little hope to sway 13 votes on such a contentious issue.

Representative Jeremy LaFaver (R-Kansas City) wanted lawmakers to remember the bill would have made it a misdemeanor to require the paying of union dues by employees. He spoke about a print shop owner in his district that he said would have to change how he’s always done business.

“We’re gonna make Sam Gromowsky, 86 years-old, having trouble with the printer plates, we’re going to turn him into a criminal. We’re going to fine him $300 or $500,” said LaFaver of what would happen if the bill became law.

Representative Karla May (D-St. Louis City) said the bill would decrease middle class workers.

Representatives Clem Smith (left) and Karla May both spoke in opposition to "right to work." (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representatives Clem Smith (left) and Karla May both spoke in opposition to “right to work.” (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

“This is about a systematic attack on workers, working families. You want to destroy the middle class and it’s all based on greed,” said May.

Some lawmakers said they had been victims of intimidation, threats, and vandalism by union supporters trying to urge them to vote against “right-to-work.”

“I’ve been attacked just brutally from union people,” said Representative Randy Pietzman (R-Troy). “They apologized for misrepresenting my first vote and that’s fine, but that’s after I got 50 phone calls from people cussing me out, attacking my family … you can have a great product and you can put out great workers, but if you can’t put somebody out there with a better attitude than that they you’ve got a problem.”

Representative Bryan Spencer (R-Wentzville) said he was pressured by supporters and opponents of “right to work.”

Representative Bryan Spencer (courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Bryan Spencer (courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

“For the people who are using the tactics to get you to change your vote, threatening me doesn’t work. ‘Burning my house down,’ they said. They wanted to burn my house down and have some scab build me a blank house, we’ll just say ‘poop’ house.” Spencer said his truck was also vandalized with numerous anti-right to work stickers, and was told, “I’m coming for you, fat boy.”

Governor Nixon praised the vote as a “victory for workers, families, and businesses,” and calling the bill “divisive,” and “anti-worker.”

“I thank the members of the General Assembly – both Democrats and Republicans – who sent a clear message to the nation that Missouri will stand by its workers and oppose attempts by outside special interests to cut wages and weaken the middle-class.”

Missouri Chamber president and CEO Dan Mehan said it was, “incredibly disappointing to see our General Assembly – which is heavily composed of lawmakers who were elected on pro-business platforms – continue to fall short when it comes to making Missouri a right-to-work state.”

Mehan believes that with the vote, “Missouri will continue to be overlooked for job creation and business expansion opportunities. If we are going to change our economy and create jobs for the future, we need to start passing right-to-work. This issue is not going to go away.”

Related story: How they voted: ‘Right to work’ fails in Missouri veto session

Missouri makes trade agreement with Canada

An agreement has been signed by Governor Nixon that he says will further Missouri trade with Canada. The Governor led a state delegation to Canada this week in an effort to drum up trade and investment business for Missouri. The deal was secured with the province of Alberta and marks the third agreement with a Canadian province in the past 18 months.

Agreement signing with Alberta Premier

Governor Nixon signing agreement with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley

The Governor says the agreement is important for Missouri farmers.

“The individual Missouri farmer understands that international markets are the key to keeping prices competitive,” says Nixon. “They understand that if we continue to have very open markets, the world market will decide the value of agriculture products.”

Nixon says farmers understand that staying competitive internationally is a two-way street.

“It leads to more foreign investment, more organizations in our state, and it leads to good prices for Missouri agriculture products that are shipped around the world,” says Nixon.

There are no specific dollar figures or goods announced as part of the agreement, but Nixon says the relationship building is an important part of the process. The Governor did say he’s hopeful for additional energy investments and he expects Missouri’s agriculture exports to grow with Canada.

Canada is Missouri’s leading export partner, with more than $4.7 billion in Missouri goods going to Canada last year. Missouri’s top exports to Canada in 2014 were in the areas of transportation equipment ($2.08 billion); chemicals ($657 million); machinery ($438 million); and food products ($392 million).




Nixon and Missouri delegation headed to Canada to push for expanded exports

A delegation of state officials including Governor Jay Nixon will travel to the Canadian province of Alberta next week, August 16-19, to try and drum up additional trade exports. In meetings with business and government leaders, the Governor’s office said he will also seek to strengthen opportunities for additional investments by Canadian companies in Missouri and participate in a conference of energy industry executives and stakeholders.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D)

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D)

“The more goods we export abroad, the more jobs we create here at home and that’s why I’ve made it a priority to market the ‘Made in Missouri’ brand worldwide,” says Nixon.

“Canada is Missouri’s leading export partner, and an ideal market to continue to boost exports of the products Missouri businesses and farmers produce,” said Nixon. “Canadian businesses have also made Missouri a leading location for investment and I look forward to expanding our reputation as a state with skilled workers and a business-friendly climate.”

The Governor’s office said Canada purchased more than $4.7 billion in Missouri goods last year. The province of Alberta is one of Canada’s most prosperous provinces, with strong energy, agriculture and technology industries. Missouri’s top exports to Canada in 2014 were transportation equipment ($2.08 billion); chemicals ($657 million); machinery ($438 million); and food products ($392 million).

Joining Governor Nixon on the trade mission will be First Lady Georganne Nixon and Mike Downing, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development. Travel costs for Governor and Mrs. Nixon will be covered by the Hawthorn Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting economic growth in Missouri



Missouri home sales increase

Missouri Realtors Association CEO John Sebree

Missouri Realtors Association CEO John Sebree

Missouri is following the national trend of increased home sales with a continued jump by nearly 20% compared to June 2014. In the second quarter, there was a 23% increase in national home sales.

Missouri Relators Association CEO John Sebree says homes are selling faster than previous years.

“The number of days homes are on the market has fallen 7.4% compared to June 2014,” says Sebree.

Sebree says there has been a very diverse group of home buyers this year, with some people downsizing and others moving from their starter homes to bigger properties in order to accommodate growing families.