January 27 – The Missouri Senate adopted one amendment to the Employment Law Reform bill and rejected several others in debate Wednesday evening. You will recall from previous blog articles that this bill would change the standard to prove discrimination from the current “contributing factor” to a “motivating factor” standard, meaning the employer took the action because of the protected criterion of the employee. For example, plaintiff’s attorneys currently can claim the employer obviously knew the employee was female and that fact must have played at least 1/1000 of a percent in the decision of the employer to take action against the employee. The employer is left trying to defend themselves that the fact the employee was a woman did not enter into the decision to dismiss the employee, but it is very hard to prove in court with this low standard of proof. Our bill would use the federal standard for such cases, requiring the plaintiff to prove the employer
January 26 – Nathan Dampf Two nights ago, President Obama gave his fourth and final State of the Union Speech before he will be “re-judged” by voters. The president focused a great deal on the economy (jobs, the banking industry, housing markets, and energy). Several times, throughout the address, President Obama discussed the country’s tax code. While targeting income taxation with his Warren “Buffett Rule” (“if you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes”), the president maintained his middle-class versus upper-class taxation rhetoric. AIM President Ray McCarty notes the rule would tax the very businesses that AIM is working to help this year in Missouri’s Capitol. “Many businesses are set up as S-Corporations and are therefore subject to individual income tax. AIM has proposed legislation this year to cut those businesses’ income tax in half so they can grow and reinvest their savings into the businesses and provide more jobs.
January 25 – The Senate took up our employment law reform bill, SB 592, again today. At this moment, Democrats, including Sen. Chappelle-Nadal, is filibustering the bill. You can listen to the debate yourself by visiting the Senate website at senate.mo.gov. We will report when there is an update on the status.
January 23 – HB 1219, our employment law reform bill in the House sponsored by Rep. Kevin Elmer, was approved by the House Committee on Workforce Development today by a vote of 8-5. The Committee is chaired by Rep. Barney Fisher. The bill aligns Missouri’s Human Rights Act standards for discrimination lawsuits with the federal Human Rights Act. The bill will next be debated by the full House, following a stop in the House Rules Committee, which is chaired by a co-sponsor of the legislation, Rep. John Diehl.
January 20 – This morning, State Representative Jerry Nolte (R-Gladstone) announced a bill to bring broad-based tax relief to every Missouri business. Nolte, the Chairman of the International Trade and Job Creation Committee, announced his intent to file the Broad-Based Tax Relief Act of 2012 in order to cut income taxes on all Missouri business in half over five years. Associated Industries of Missouri (AIM) joined Representative Nolte in support. The announcement was made at Bennett Packaging and Displays in Lee’s Summit – significant because the idea developed from a conversation with Kathy Bennett, owner and CEO of the firm. “Times are tough, unemployment is still too high and Missouri families are hurting,” observed Nolte. “This legislation will create a pro-job environment where everyone has the opportunity to prosper.” The legislation will phase-in a 50 percent tax cut over a five-year span beginning with a 10 percent cut in the 2012 tax year. The following years, businesses would benefit from
January 19 – The Missouri House today approved HJR 43, a constitutional amendment sponsored by Rep. Eric Burlison that would require the state to set aside money in good revenue years to use in bad revenue years. What a novel concept, huh? Believe me, this is not a concept easily adopted by state government leaders, as evidenced by the fact similar proposals have been proposed since at least 2004 when then-Representative Brad Lager proposed the idea. Eight years later, state government leaders have yet to adopt this common sense reform. I have personally testified for this legislation every year. Associated Industries of Missouri supports the legislation and we look forward to additional action on the bill as it now moves to the Missouri Senate.
January 18, 2012 – Governor Jay Nixon gave his State of the State address last evening, outlining an economic plan called Missouri Works and other legislative priorities. Click here for the text of his speech. The Governor also visited Associated Industries of Missouri Board Member Jost Chemical Company to discuss the Missouri Works plan. Associated Industries of Missouri President Ray McCarty testified in support of the House version of Employment Law Reform, HB 1219, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Elmer. Today, the House is expected to take up HJR 43 for discussion, a constitutional amendment that would require the state to set aside money in good years to be able to better sustain programs in tough budget years. Associated Industries has supported this bill since its first introduction many years ago. It is important for the state to manage its budget in a manner that is prudent to avoid unnecessary burden on taxpayers. If you have not already done, so, please add your
January 17, 2012 – The House Committee on Workforce Development and Workplace Safety, Chaired by Rep. Barney Fisher, will hear our Employment Law Reform bill, HB 1219, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Elmer, today at noon. This legislation is similar to SB 592, which is on the Senate Calendar for debate. Associated Industries of Missouri strongly supports returning Missouri’s Human Rights Act to a standard that punishes employers who make an employment decision that is motivated by discrimination. Under current law, lawyers for dismissed employees are claiming that simply being a member of a protected class is enough to prove the employer acted with some prejudice. The federal standard requires the employer to be “motivated” by the discrimination – Missouri’s current law only requires the employee to prove discrimination was a “contributing” factor – a much lower standard. The legislation would also protect real whistle-blowers, but stop frivolous lawsuits from people claiming “whistle-blower” status when their employer has not done anything that
January 12 – Senator Brad Lager’s SB 592 was approved today by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment, chaired by Senator Lager. Of the senators present, only Senator Tim Green and Senator Jolie Justus voted against the bill, which is a priority for Associated Industries of Missouri and other employer groups this year. Action came much quicker this year – a similar bill did not clear the committee until February 23 last year . The bill was also reported to the Senate floor and will be eligible for floor debate in as early as next week. SB 592 would change Missouri’s standard for discrimination in dismissal decisions to mirror the federal law standard under the Human Rights Act. In order to claim discrimination, an employee would have to prove discrimination was a “motivating” factor, rather than a “contributing” factor, in the employer’s decision to dismiss the employee. The bill would also implement common sense reforms
January 11 – The Senate Committee in charge of SB 592 has scheduled a hearing to vote on the bill for Thursday, January 12, 9:45 a.m. in the Senate Lounge. The bill would align Missouri’s Human Rights Act with the federal Human Rights Act. Associated Industries of Missouri supports the legislation and will report on the results of the hearing.