OPINION: Bad legislation last session, but more is coming unless we elect Democrats in November

By DOUG BECK
Missouri State Senator,1st District
Plumbers & Pipefitters 562 member

With the Missouri 2024 Legislative Session behind us, I wanted to provide a quick review of some of the issues put forward by Republicans this year that directly impact Union members.

But more importantly, a warning about the future and what we as workers can do – must do this November –  to protect ourselves, our families and our unions.

WATERING DOWN YOUR VOTE
Throughout session, legislative Republicans said their No. 1 priority was to make it harder for Missourians to amend the state’s constitution through the Initiative Petition process.

To achieve their goal, the GOP put forward a proposal to eliminate “one person, one vote” by counting some people’s votes less than others, depending on where those people lived. Senate Democrats fought all year long to protect our direct democracy initiative petition process. We even held the floor for over 50 straight hours to block the bill, the longest filibuster in Missouri Senate history.

And it worked. The bill did not pass. Missouri voters can still vote on initiative petitions, and their vote will still fully count no matter where in Missouri they live.

CHILD LABOR
This year, Republicans also pushed legislation to loosen child labor laws by removing work permit requirements.

This is part of a nationwide right-wing push to eliminate child labor laws. An investigation in 2023 traced all these bills back to a Florida-based conservative group, which sent copy-and-paste legislation to statehouses across the country – including Missouri.

Thankfully, this legislation did not pass in 2024, but it will return in 2025.

That’s why electing leaders this November who oppose rolling back child labor laws is so important – because children should never be put in danger so a CEO can make a buck.

REDUCING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS TO EIGHT WEEKS
Missouri Republicans also continued their attacks on unemployment benefits by filing the same bill they have filed for nearly a decade to reduce unemployment benefits down to eight weeks.

When they began these attacks in 2015, they succeeded and passed a bill. Thankfully, we had a Democratic Governor (who was also a card-carrying union member) who vetoed that legislation.

Unfortunately, we no longer have a friend of Labor unions in the Governor’s office. If Republicans ever pass this bill again, it will be disastrous for anyone who loses their job.

PHONY ‘RIGHT-TO-WORK’ COMING, AGAIN
When 937,241 Missourians showed up in solidarity to defeat the so-called “right-to-work” by a nearly two-to-one margin in 2018, many expected this debate to go away.

But because “right-to-work” continues to be a solid plank in the Missouri Republican Party’s Platform, many lawmakers will show up in January ready to push “right-to-work” all over again.

In fact, well-funded Republican-leaning PACs have ALREADY sent out candidate questionnaires demanding support for “right-to-work” heading into the August primaries.

WHAT’S NEXT?
The issues I have discussed here are, unfortunately, only the tip of the iceberg. Attacking union members and their families is a cornerstone of what it means to be a Republican politician these days.

To appease their corporate campaign donors, they must throw working families under the bus.

I am proud to defend working families in the State Senate, and I know the work my Democratic colleagues do in the House to push back against this anti-worker agenda is vital.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF IN NOVEMBER
The only way things will get better is if voters send better people to the statehouse.

This year, every State House seat is on the ballot, as are half the State Senate seats. In the Senate, if we can protect the Democratic seats we have and flip just two more, we will break the Republican supermajority and deliver a crushing blow to their anti-union agenda.

That’s what I will be working toward every day between now and Nov. 5, and I hope you’ll join me.

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