Emotion spills over during debate in the House on a bill supporters say makes Missouri more business friendly, but critics contend makes it more difficult for Missourians to fight discrimination in court.
Members of the House vote 95-to-59 to approve a bill tying discrimination cases to federal case law after a State Supreme Court case expanded the rights of employees to file discrimination lawsuits.
Rep. Sylvester Taylor (D-St. Louis), who is black, tells his white colleagues they don’t understand how their attempt to make Missouri more business-friendly affects minorities.
“Here’s the part that you guys don’t get. You don’t get when the woman is being discriminated against. You don’t get when a noose is hung over your workplace. You don’t get when a monkey is taped to your lunchbox. And people say you’re just too emotional about it, it’s just a joke, let’s laugh about it. It’s not funny,” Taylor spoke emotionally during House floor debate. He paused and continued, “I have. I have. Not my parents; me.”
HCS/HB 205 sponsor, Rep. Kevin Elmer (R-Nixa), says he knows emotions are part of the debate.
“And I understand Mr. Taylor’s comments. I mean, anytime you get there, it’s a difficult issue,” Elmer told Capitol reporters after the vote was taken, “but, simply, we’re just becoming in line with the states surrounding us and the federal government.”
Supporters argue that recent Missouri Supreme Court rulings make Missouri less competitive with neighboring states trying to lure business. The law also changes the state whistleblower statute.