County-level RTW still a threat
By TIM ROWDEN
The 2019 Missouri legislative session got underway last week with a focus on the milestone of this being state’s 100th General Assembly.
In his weekly Capitol Report, State Representative Doug Beck (D-Affton), a member of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562, noted the partisan breakdown in both chambers remains unchanged from last year with Republicans outnumbering Democrats 24-10 in the Senate and 116-47 in the House. While the overall numbers are the same, Beck said, there was substantial lawmaker turnover in the November 2018 election, resulting in new occupants in more than a third of the 197 legislative seats.
Republicans in the Legislature will be led by House Speaker Elijah Haahr (R-Springfield) and Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan). Legislative Democrats will be led by House Minority Leader Crystal Quade of Springfield, and Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh of Bellefontaine Neighbors.
In separate news conferences, both Haahr and Schatz said so-called “right-to-work” (RTW) legislation is unlikely to advance this year.
Concerns about a new RTW fight were raised last month when newly elected Senator Eric Burlison (R-Springfield) –– a beneficiary of the deep pockets of pro-RTW Republican megadonor David Humphreys –– pre-filed legislation to once again make Missouri a so-called “right-to-work” state.
So-called RTW, which bars union-represented businesses from negotiating contracts that assure workers will either pay dues or a smaller “fair share” fee to cover the union’s cost of bargaining and representation, had been a top Republican priority during recent years, but Missouri voters overwhelmingly rejected a RTW ballot measure in August 2018, with 67 percent opposed. While ruling out statewide RTW, Haahr left open the door open to local RTW efforts saying lawmakers might consider authorizing individual counties to enact local RTW laws.
STATE OF THE STATE
The first major event on the legislative calendar was set to occur Jan. 16 when Gov. Mike Parson delivered his first State of the State address since taking office in June following the resignation of his predecessor, scandal-plagued Eric Greitens, a fellow Republican.
In addition to outlining his policy priorities, Parson was expected to present his proposed state operating budget for the 2020 fiscal year, which begins July 1. Under the consensus revenue estimate agreed to by Parson and Republican legislative leaders, the state expects anemic two percent growth in net general revenue collections, which likely will be insufficient to keep up the increased costs of existing services.
This year’s session will end May 17.