Governor signs AIM-supported healthcare bills

Governor Nixon has signed two bills supported by Associated Industries of Missouri that will make a difference in the healthcare market place.

On Wednesday, the governor signed Senate Bill 875 into law. This is a bill that was the subject of a letter of support from AIM president Ray McCarty to the governor. The legislation allows pharmacists to fill prescriptions for brand name biological products with interchangeable biological products.

“Consumers may benefit when the interchangeable biological product costs less than the prescribed biological product, very similar to the substitution of generic drugs for prescribed name-brand drugs,” wrote McCarty. “The controls included in the bill follow model controls implemented in several other states and we support the bill.”

Senate Bill 875 was sponsored by Sen. Kurt Schaefer. Rep. Tila Hubrecht handled the legislation in the House. The bill was identical to House Bills 1366 and 1878, sponsored by Rep. Hubrecht. Those bills did not make it across the finish line in time for the governor’s signature.

SB 875 was given final passage in the House of Representatives by a 144 – 1 margin on April 19.

Also on Wednesday, the governor signed  Senate Bill 579 into law. The bill will update the list of infections that must be reported by hospitals, improve healthcare transparency, and assist patients in making educated decisions about their healthcare.

McCarty urged the governor to sign Senate Bill 579 in a letter of support.

“As employers, we value quality healthcare and are often the primary source for insurance for our employees,” said McCarty.

Senate Bill 579 also sets forth reasonable standards and requirements for telehealth programs.

The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Rob Schaaf and handled in the House by Rep Sue Allen . Rep. Allen carried similar legislation in House Bill 1855, which ran out of time while being considered by the Senate. 

Both SB 875 and SB 579 go into effect on August 28.  



U.S. Senate unanimously approves update to Toxic Substances Control Act

From the National Association of Manufacturers’ Manufacturing Economy Daily blog.

NOTE: Associated Industries of Missouri is the sole official designated partner of the National Association of Manufacturers in Missouri.

The Washington Post (6/7, Eilperin) reports the Senate on Tuesday evening, through a voice vote, “unanimously” passed legislation updating the 40-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA, clearing the way for President Obama’s signature.

The bipartisan bill to “overhaul the way the federal government regulates every chemical sold on the market” in the US will provide chemical producers “greater certainty” while giving the Environmental Protection Agency “the ability to obtain more information about a chemical before approving its use,” the Post says. Manufacturers have pushed Congress to update the 1976 statute “because several states have begun to impose their own curbs on toxic chemicals out of concern that the federal government was not doing enough,” the article explains.

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons is quoted as saying, “The regulations on these chemicals will be clearer and more straightforward, meaning time and resources that would have been spent trying to navigate outdated, confusing rules can now be spent on driving innovation and creating jobs.”

Bloomberg Government (6/8; Dabbs, Rizzuto, Scott, Gibb; Subscription Publication) quotes Timmons as saying, “By delivering clear, modernized rules, this reform will make it easier for manufacturers to ensure the safety of our products and deliver quality goods to our customers.”

A NAM news release contains the entirety of Timmons’ comments on the Senate vote.

The AP (6/7, Daly), in a story noting the NAM’s support for the bill, calls the Senate’s reauthorization of the TSCA “a rare display of bipartisanship in an election year.” Once signed by the president, the sweeping law will “for the first time regulate tens of thousands of toxic chemicals in everyday products,” the AP says.

The New York Times (6/7, Davenport, Subscription Publication) reports the revised TSCA has been sent to Obama “for his expected signature.” The House approved the legislation, 403-12, on May 24.

Also covering the Senate vote are the Wall Street Journal (6/7, Berzon, Harder, Subscription Publication), Reuters (6/7),Politico (6/7, Goode, Guillén), and The Hill (6/7, Cama).

Governor signs unemployment compensation fraud penalty bill

The governor has begun the laborious task of signing the hundreds of pieces of legislation sent to him by the General Assembly during the just-completed 2016 session.

On Monday, the governor’s office announced that among seven bills signed was AIM-supported House Bill 1530, legislation that enhances recovery of fraudulent unemployment compensation payments.

Currently, when an individual or employer repays the state for overpayment of unemployment compensation benefits, payments made toward the penalty amount due are credited to the Special Employment Security Fund.

This bill requires 15% of the total amount of benefits fraudulently obtained to be deposited into the Unemployment Compensation Fund and the remaining penalty amount must be credited to the Special Employment Security Fund.

In a letter of support for HB 1530 written to Governor Jay Nixon, AIM president Ray McCarty said the Missouri Department of Labor contacted AIM several sessions ago regarding these provisions. AIM has supported them in previous years and remains supportive of this bill.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Wanda Brown and was given final passage by the Senate on May 4 by a 31-0 margin.

Barge traffic makes a resurgence on the Missouri River

From the Associated Press

The Missouri River is slowly resuming its role as a transportation corridor for commodities such as grain, scrap metal and fertilizer, but proponents of the barge industry acknowledge they’re still swimming upstream against a perception that the river is not reliable enough to be profitable.

Some small, private barge companies never stopped using the river but public ports along the nearly 760-mile span from Sioux City, Iowa, to St. Louis, Missouri, disappeared in the late 1990s and early 2000s after a combination of drought, economic recession, low commodity prices and politic infighting led shippers to turn to rail and trucks.

As prices stabilized and droughts eased, attention turned to reopening some public ports, with the Woodswether terminal port in Kansas City last August being the first since 2007.

About an hour north, the St. Joseph Regional Port Authority is improving its infrastructure and plans to attract barge traffic within the year. Other county or regional port authorities will receive funding from the state of Missouri to establish or improve terminals currently not in use.

“The idea that the Missouri River is not navigable is simply just incorrect,” said Michael Collins, president and CEO of Port KC. “The negative perception is changing but we still have a lot of work to do.”

 With no lock and dam system to control the river’s free-flowing water, keeping open the 9-foot-deep, 300-foot-wide navigation channel from Sioux City to St. Louis can be challenging for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during drought or flooding, though Collins notes the flood of 1993 caused the only complete shutdown of barge traffic on the river in the last 36 years.

That freedom of movement is what public and private groups are trying to reiterate to commodity brokers, from large companies to small farmers needing a way to move grain, said James Rudy, area engineer for the Corps’ Kansas City district. He and other proponents also say it’s cheaper than land shipping, more environmentally friendly and eases stress on the nation’s clogged highway and rail transportation systems. One 15-barge tow can replace two 100-car trains or 870 semi-trailer trucks, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation.

“A number of stakeholders are working very hard to reinvigorate the river’s image,” said Rudy, who oversees the Missouri River from Rulo, Nebraska, to the Mississippi River near St. Louis. “… There’s a lot of re-education of folks out there.”

While Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa currently have no public ports on the Missouri River, the advantages of barge shipping — including job creation and private investment — got the Missouri Legislature’s attention. The state has increased allocations for capital improvements at ports from $3 million in fiscal year 2014 to $12.4 million for fiscal year 2017, said Cheryl Ball, waterways infreight administrator for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Kansas City Business Journal Cover Story: The Cerner Way

We at Associated Industries of Missouri are extremely proud of our association with our Chairman’s Council member Cerner. The company is the topic of what’s looks to be a very flattering cover story in the print version of the Kansas City Business Journal, out Friday June 3. Unfortunately, that’s a subscription-only publication, so we will publish what the KCBJ has put out on its internet web site. It will then be up to you if you want to go ahead and subscribe to the print version of the publication.

From the Kansas City Business Journal

What started over a picnic table in Loose Park has grown into the behemoth that is Cerner Corp.

But if you think the health IT company’s influence is limited to its 11,500 (eventually to be 27,500) area employees or its six (soon to be seven) campuses, think again.

Cerner ex-pats have flowed out into the broader business world, carrying with them what’s called the “Cerner way.” They are infusing this culture and ethos in the companies they now have started or lead.

Subscribers can see just what that means in reporter Dora Grote’s centerpiece for the June 3 weekly print edition. Click here to see how the “Cerner way” manifests itself in companies throughout Kansas City.

(Not a subscriber? There’s only one way — the KCBJ way? — to avoid waiting 60 days to read content like this. Click here to subscribe.)

Inside the cover story: Tracing the roots of the Cerner family tree

By Dora Grote, reporter, Kansas City Business Journal

My family tree, like most, traces back to my grandparents, their parents and their grandparents before that. Generations are added as time goes on, and there’s never a time when my family tree will be complete. Because I’m the youngest of five, I already have nieces and nephews.

This seems fairly obvious, yes, but it’s this concept that sparked my idea for this week’s centerpiece.

I keep close tabs on Cerner Corp. It’s hard not to when you look at its size and its grassroots success. The company is now the largest private-sector employer in the Kansas City area and is climbing toward revenue of $5 billion. The North Kansas City health IT company has continued to sink investment into its hometown not only with jobs, but by revitalizing neighborhoods with its economic development. Cerner is building its seventh area campus — a $4.5 billion project in south Kansas City.

But I’ve found that Cerner’s reach goes far beyond stats. Cerner constantly weaves into conversations with sources and interviews, frequently by accident. Perhaps someone formerly worked at Cerner or had CEO Neal Patterson and Vice Chairman Cliff Illig as mentors, for example. This kept occurring, so I finally decided to start tracing where those Cerner employees have gone.

You’d be amazed at the number of companies and entrepreneurs that have ties to Cerner.

Through speaking with dozens of Cerner employees (former ones, too), another thing struck me: There’s a sense of dedication, commitment and vision that’s very evident in everyone who works there or who previously worked there.

And that all started with the three founders. I got a chance to speak with Illig about that “Cerner way.” Illig was humble about Cerner’s rippling effects on the area and said the company is “standing on the shoulders of those who came before” it.

Although the timing prevented me from speaking speak with Patterson, who is undergoing treatment for cancer, I learned enough about the CEO that I can understand how he’s led the company to success through his driven mindset.

In the weekly print edition out on Friday, I dive into the stories of four former Cerner employees who now are running or leading companies of their own. I catch up with Illig, and I put into perspective just how far Cerner’s reach goes beyond its current employees.

But just like my family tree, Cerner’s will never be complete. It will keep growing from the thousands of employees who will travel through the company … and take what they’ve learned with them to their next stop.

Dora reports on health care, life sciences and publicly traded technology companies.

Economist: overtime pay rule could cause some Missouri businesses to close

From the MissouriNet

A federal rule taking effect in December will have a negative impact on Missouri’s economy, according to Creighton University economist Ernie Goss. It will extend overtime pay to those making up to $47,000 and working more than 40 hours a week. Currently that cutoff is $24,000.

“That’s likely to have some unintended consequences and not all of those unintended consequences are going to be good,” says Goss. “I think Washington is regulating a lot of businesses out of business.”

Goss says the federal government must be careful with its approach when requiring significant labor changes.

“You’re likely to see a cut in benefits, for example. You’re likely to see hours worked cut back so that you’ll have two workers doing what was done previously,” said Goss. “So you could have more jobs added but each worker then will be making less. Of course, that’s not helpful for the overall economy in my judgement.”

Supporters, though, say the rule will help workers receive a fair wage and help them provide more for their families.

UPDATE: It’s official: NGA will build $1.7 billion headquarters in St. Louis

Associated Industries of Missouri is very pleased that this decision was reached in St. Louis’ favor.

From the St. Louis Business Journal

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency on Thursday finalized its decision to build its new $1.7 billion western headquarters in north St. Louis.

The agency announced in March that it favored a 100-acre site in north St. Louis for the new headquarters. St. Clair County in Illinois had offered a 182-acre greenfield site adjacent to Scott Air Force Base.

The choice was a major win for the city of St. Louis, which has made the effort to retain the federal spy agency — and its 3,100 jobs — its No. 1 economic development priority. After another billion-dollar project, the Mississippi riverfront stadium, fell through, the city was also desperate for a catalyst on the north side, which has been in economic distress for decades. The NGA will move from a facility in Soulard in 2021.

Illinois officials had urged the agency to reconsider its assessment of the security and environmental impact of the proposed sites, claiming those elements were not studied properly.

From NAM: Q1 GDP revised upward to 0.8% gain; incomes grew faster than initial estimate

Associated Industries of Missouri is the sole official designated partner of the National Association of Manufacturers in Missouri.

The Commerce Department announced Friday an upward revision of its previous estimate of first-quarter GDP, to an 0.8% annualized rate, Bloomberg News  reported, calling it “the smallest gain in a year.”

The department initially estimated 0.5% growth in the January-March period. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast a 0.9% economic gain. The story said Friday’s data did “little to alter views” of an economy that has had a “sluggish start” for three consecutive years, and the numbers “could portend a tougher slog in the second quarter as businesses work to continue to pare stockpiles.”

The data also included revisions to personal income in last year’s fourth quarter, now showing that “pay accelerated even more than previously estimated.” Wages and salaries rose $125.5 billion, the biggest quarterly gain in nearly two years and up from the $81.7 billion increase originally estimated.

The New York Times  said that despite signs the economy is “picking up speed,” the “overall gains are still likely to fall short of what many experts — not to mention ordinary workers — would hope to see as the recovery nears the end of its seventh year.”

This underscores challenges Federal Reserve policymakers face in considering whether to raise interest rates at their June 14-15 meeting, or wait until later in the year. The Times, citing Friday’s Commerce Department data, reported that businesses remain hesitant to spend money, possibly as a result of “pressure on earnings after several years of expanding margins.” Corporate profits for the first quarter increased “just” 0.3%, after falling 7.8% in the final quarter of 2015.

In the NAM’s Shopfloor  blog, Chief Economist Chad Moutray wrote that despite the government’s upward quarterly revision, “it is clear that the economy remained challenged,” with improvements in fixed income, inventories, and net exports “reducing the pace to which each was a drag on real GDP growth.”

The economy’s performance overall, he added, “has been disappointing through the first three months of 2016, extending the sluggishness seen at the end of 2015,” with consumers and businesses still “cautious” and the strong dollar and weak international demand constraining exports.



June 9 AIM webinar to explore Obama overtime regulations

Thursday, June 2, would usually have been a date for the June Monthly Human Resources Webinar. But, in order to make an expert on the new overtime hours regulation coming from Washington D.C. available to you, we at AIM have decided to host the Human Resources Webinar on Thursday, June 9.

This month, we talk to Amanda Wood, National Association of Manufacturers. She is NAM’s “go to” person on the new Obama Overtime guidelines. Find out what this will mean for your company. Ask questions on how to best handle this latest administration overreach without damaging your bottom line. Join us for this very important discussion.
Look for the invitation in your email today, sign up, and join us for “The Obama Overtime Overreach and what you need to know”.
Associated Industries of Missouri is the sole official designated partner of the National Association of Manufacturers in Missouri.


Final NGA decision coming next week as bi-state fight continues

Associated Industries of Missouri supports the location of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency at the site chosen in north St. Louis.

From the St. Louis Post Dispatch

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is set to finalize next week its decision over where it will build its $1.75 billion western campus while Illinois and Missouri officials continue to battle for it.

The agency, which handles mapping and satellite support for the Defense Department, preliminarily chose a site in north St. Louis as its preferred location. After two months and an extended public comment period, NGA will announce a final decision on June 3.

Illinois officials, many of whom are facing re-election battles this fall, have continued to fight to lure the facility, which is currently south of downtown St. Louis, across the river to land near Scott Air Force Base. NGA Director Robert Cardillo announced St. Louis as his preferred location in late March. Illinois officials swiftly mounted a spirited attack against the process.

The project promises to be the single largest federal expenditure in the city’s history.

Cardillo cited St. Louis as the most attractive site to recruit younger workers to the agency, which is working on transforming its image as a high-tech operation. NGA employs about 3,000 workers in St. Louis and could add additional officers after the move, expected in 2022 or 2023.

So far, Cardillo has appeared unfazed by Illinois’ vigorous pushback and firmly in support of St. Louis. Earlier this month, when Cardillo announced an NGA outpost in Silicon Valley, he praised St. Louis’ tech community.

“We’re jumping in with both feet into the Cortex Innovation Community in St. Louis — a growing new hub of tech development,” Cardillo said. “We’ll go wherever necessary to create the service the world demands and our customers deserve.”

On Friday, U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, held a forum with Metro East residents where he slammed the decision. Bost, along with other Illinois leaders, has argued that the environmental assessment report backing the St. Louis site is flawed and contains several errors, some of which confused St. Clair County, Ill., with St. Clair counties in other states. He also said the facility would be safest near a major defense installation such as Scott Air Force Base.

Other local officials at Bost’s forum on Friday at the Katy Cavins Community Center in O’Fallon grabbed the security issue, openly discussing St. Louis’ crime and racial turmoil.

Cardillo, in a letter to Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said the agency would mitigate security concerns at the north St. Louis site “through security engineering and design features for the facility and campus, NGA police force routine patrols, perimeter cameras, and close coordination with the St. Louis police force.”

Mayor Francis Slay said Friday that the city was still pressing to keep the facility.

“We have not taken this for granted,” Slay said.

To read the rest of this article, click here