After an almost nine hour filibuster by Democrats, the Missouri Senate passed a so-called “right to work” bill Tuesday. The Senate’s version made some minor changes to the House version passed back in February. The bill has to go back to the House for its approval.
The upper gallery of the Senate was filled, mainly with opponents of the measure. As a vote neared, the chamber also had members of the House of Representatives lining up to listen to debate.
Democrats pulled out all of the stops to try and block a vote.
“We’re not sitting down this time,” said Senator Jason Holsman (D-Kansas City). “This is not something that we believe can be mitigated, compromised, brought to a position. There are very few times on this floor where a Senator will make a declarative statement as such.”
Senator Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) said he can’t support the proposal because his district is heavily populated by union workers.
“I know it’s only Tuesday and I don’t know how long this debate is going to go this week,” said Silvey. “It would be a travesty to me to see this debate go four or five hours and then have a motion to cut it off.”
A motion to cut it off is what was made, though it took longer than four or five hours.
Republicans used a procedural motion called the “previous question” to cut off debate and force a vote. Such a motion is rare in the Senate, where it is viewed as impinging on Senators’ rights to debate an issue.
“We know that jobs and people are leaving Missouri,” said “right to work” sponsor Dan Brown (R-Rolla). “We lost another congressional seat. right to work allows union members to take back the union, which is how it should be. I think this law makes a union much more competitive. Union members would get value for the investment.”
The bill would outlaw the collection of fees from non-union members.
Even if the House passes the bill, it is expected that Governor Nixon would veto it. The House vote in February was 17 votes shy and the Senate was two short of the total needed to overturn a veto.
The Republican leadership’s actions to get “right to work’ to a vote has Democrats threatening to make any actions by the Senate in the final three days of the session as difficult as possible.
Several major issues are still awaiting attention, including legislation that would require a photo identification to vote, a fuel tax increase, and a proposal to allow Missouri to draw $3.58 billion in federal dollars from a tax on hospitals.