The 2009 legislative session brought a mix of good and bad news for Missouri’s business community, with the state’s largest business organization saying the positive trumped the negative in the end.
Missouri Chamber of Commerce President Dan Mehan points to the economic development bill with an expansion of the Quality Jobs program as a huge development, and admits it was touch and go for a while as it was unclear whether the bill would pass. A version of the legislation did finally pass the General Assembly on the final day of the session.
“It lived a lot of lives,” said Mehan. “It gyrated up and down, very much a roller coaster ride.”
Another major positive Mehan sees is funding that will open business opportunities with China:
“Funding to create an air-cargo hub for direct flight shipments to China and elsewhere around the world out of St. Louis-Lambert Airport,” said Mehan. “It’s a very good use of stimulus package money that is possibly a transformational project for the state and region and something that generations will benefit from.”
A disappointing development for Mehan is failure of the General Assembly to approve legislation that would have allowed Missourians to vote on keeping the secret ballot a part of union organizing in the state.
“We don’t think that it received enough time for consideration,” insists Mehan. “It was late in the process.”
The effort passed the House but was filibustered by Senate Democrats. Mehan vows to pursue other avenues to protect the secret ballot, perhaps through the initiative petition process. He points out the effort to do away with the secret ballot comes out of Washington, D.C. through what has become known as “card check” – a process by which organizing could be done simply through the signing of union cards by workers.
All in all, Mehan sees positives coming out on top in this session.
“It went right to the end and it ended up being somewhat successful,” said Mehan. We’re walking away with some good progress.”
And he sees the progress as something to build on next year.
Download/Listen: Steve Walsh interviews Chamber President Dan Mehan (6:30 MP3)
Download/Listen: Steve Walsh report (:60 MP3)
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