BNSF plans estimated $140 million capital program in Missouri for 2016

A media release from AIM Circle of Elite Organizations member BNSF Railway Company FORT WORTH, TEXAS, February 25, 2016 – BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) today announced that its 2016 capital expenditure program in Missouri will be an estimated $140 million. This year’s plan in Missouri is focused on maintenance projects that help ensure BNSF continues to operate a safe and reliable network and reflects the success BNSF has had in adding capacity in prior years to support customer demand. The 2016 program will also bring capital investments more in line with forecasted customer freight service demand. The largest component of this year’s capital plan in the state will be for replacing and upgrading rail, rail ties and ballast, which are the main components for the tracks on which BNSF trains operate. Regular maintenance of the railroad allows BNSF to keep its network infrastructure in optimal condition and reduces the need for unscheduled service work that can slow down the BNSF

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NAM: Appeals court to hear states’ challenge to Clean-Water Rule

The AP (2/22) reports that judges from the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled 2-1 on Monday that it will hear challenges from 18 states to the Obama administration’s Waters of the United States rule, which “attempts to clarify which small streams, wetlands and other waterways the government can shield from pollution and development.” The state plaintiffs argue that the rule, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers in 2015 under the Clean Water Act, goes “too far and could be costly to landowners,” the AP explains. The Hill (2/22, Cama) says that in its ruling Monday, the three-judge panel from the 6th Circuit “rejected calls from opponents of the regulation to dismiss their cases and allow them to first go to lower courts with their challenges.” Writing for the court’s majority, Judge David McKeague “said the trend in similar cases has been for circuit courts, not the lower district courts,” to

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House passes career and technical education certificate

The Missouri House of Representatives Thursday gave final passage to legislation that would require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to establish minimum requirements for  a career and technical education certificate which a student could earn along with a high school diploma. The bill, HB 1612, sponsored by Rep. Kathy Swan (R-Cape Girardeau) is designed to provide students with opportunities to learn the necessary technical skills to be prepared for an entry-level career in a technical field or additional training in a technical field. The bill includes language that maintains that students should not be separated according to academic ability into groups for all or certain subjects or curriculum, in order to impel students to particular vocational, career or college paths. Supporters told an earlier House hearing on the bill that the legislation gives students a dignified alternative to attending college by presenting vocational training as an option. The House passed the bill by a 154-3 margin. HB

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House committee advances AIM-backed expert witness bills

Bills that would allow Missouri to join 40 other states and the federal government in using federal standards to determine whether a witness is an expert or not in a court proceeding have cleared another hurdle on their way to passage in the Missouri House. Both House Bill 1676 sponsored by State Representative Kevin Corlew (R-Kansas City) and Senate Bill 591 sponsored by State Senator Mike Parson (R-Bolivar) were voted “Do Pass” by the House’s Civil and Criminal Proceedings Committee on a 7-5 vote. “The Daubert expert standard is a fair and consistent standard for all parties in the pursuit of justice and case disposition,” said Rep. Corlew. “Studies show that the length of litigation and its attendant costs are reduced in courts that use the Daubert expert standard. The efficiency gained for parties and an overburdened court system cannot be overstated.”   The bills are similar in language. Senate Bill 591 came out of the Senate with two  amendments,

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State Senate gives first round approval to biosimilars bill

The Missouri Senate Wednesday gave first round approval to a bill that allows pharmacists to fill a prescription for a biologic product with a less expensive interchangeable biological product if the prescribing physician and patient okay the substitution. Senate Bill 875 allows for FDA certified “biosimilars” to be used to hold down the cost of biological prescriptions. Biosimilars are described as almost an identical copy of an original biological product that is manufactured by a different company. So far, they are rare in the United States, but the field is growing at a rapid pace. The bill mandates that the state Board of Pharmacy maintain a link on its website to a current list of all biological products determined by the FDA to be interchangeable with a specific biological product. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), faces a final vote in the Senate before moving on to the House for consideration.

Associated Industries of Missouri joins in filing amicus brief against EPA’s carbon regulations

On Tuesday, Associated Industries of Missouri joined 166 other state and local associations from 40 different states in an amicus brief filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the D.C. circuit. The brief explains the devastating impact posed by the EPA’s carbon regulations in it “Clean Power Program”. The lawsuit, which is expected to be considered by a federal appeals court this summer is expected to be a landmark case that could shape Missouri’s energy and economic future. The coalition’s brief outlines major legal and economic concerns with the rule, arguing that EPA has trampled on the rights of states to determine their own energy mix and implement environmental standards in a manner tailed to their own circumstances. The “Clean Power Progam” threatens to cause serious harm to the U.S economy, raising energy prices and costing jobs. EPA’s own estimates project that its rule will cause nationwide electricity price increases averaging between 6 and 7 percent in 2020, and up to

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January’s consumer prices proved more robust than expected

From NAM’s Manufacturing Economy Daily blog The Labor Department on Friday said its consumer price index was unchanged in January, as falling oil prices offset rising costs of housing and healthcare, Bloomberg News  reported, adding that economists had forecast a 0.1% decrease. For the 12 months ending Jan. 31, the CPI was up 1.4%. Core CPI, which excludes the volatile food and energy categories, rose 0.3% in January and 2.2% for the 12-month period. Bloomberg said the “tightening labor market and nascent signs of wage growth bode well for domestic demand, a rebound in which could help stoke inflation if energy costs stabilize.” The Wall Street Journal  said the Labor Department data indicate inflation may be solidifying despite the decline in energy prices and strength of the dollar. PNC economist Gus Faucher said, “Broad-based price growth is signaling that the wage and price pressures are building, an indication that the economy is expanding at a solid pace and that recessionary

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Two important bills clear House Select committees this week

House Bill 1389, the Missouri Infrastructure Investment Act, sponsored by Rep. Nick King was approved by the House Select Committee on Commerce this week. The Act rewards infrastructure investment by manufacturers and their suppliers by expanding the current Auto Manufacturing Jobs Act to all manufacturing industries.  AIM thanks Rep. King for his strong efforts on behalf of this AIM priority bill that builds on AIM’s success with the original Act that was limited at Governor Nixon’s request to automotive manufacturing and suppliers.   Also, an important bill that would enforce arbitration agreements between employers and at-will employees advanced from the Select Committee on Labor on a 7-3 vote.  House Bill 1718, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Corlew, is also a top priority for Associated Industries of Missouri this session.   Both bills will advance to the House floor for further consideration.

Sen. Schmitt’s bill to double tax cut heard in Senate committee

The Senate Ways and Means Committee today heard SB 574, sponsored by Sen. Eric Schmitt – a bill that would double the tax cut hard fought by AIM and other business groups. The bill would actually restore the full amount of business income deduction that was originally filed by Sen. Schmitt, prior to that deduction’s inclusion in a larger tax bill that also reduced the personal income tax rate. That bill, though vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon, was the subject of an intense lobbying effort and eventual veto override, led by Associated Industries of Missouri, NFIB, and other employer organizations. The business income was an original AIM Tax Committee idea, brought about after conversations with Bennett Packaging, an AIM member that pointed out something should be done for flow-through entities, such as S corporations. Kansas completely exempts such income from income tax.

13-hour filibuster at Capitol eventually finds a solution on medical costs in civil suits

This is an important victory for Missouri employers. It is also interesting for the fact that State Senate filibusters rarely last this long. The bill is SB 847. From the Jefferson City News Tribune The Missouri Senate Thursday approved a bill that would affect how damages are awarded in a trial involving medical care. The Senate gave final passage to SB 847 by a margin of 25-7. But it took 13 hours — from 5 p.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday — for state senators to give preliminary approval to the measure. A final vote, which could come as early as today, is needed to send the bill to the House. “All it did was say that ‘medical costs’ should be medical costs,” sponsor Ed Emery, R-Lamar, explained. “They shouldn’t be some arbitrary, fictitious and phantom number that someone can just pick off of a page somewhere — that nobody’s ever paid, has not resulted in the transfer of any

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