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Aug
2013
13

MO Lt. Gov. Threatens “Right-to-Work” Hail Mary, Wants Issue on the Ballot to Prevent Nixon Veto

Kinder RTW

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In Missouri, a bevy of anti-worker bills such as “paycheck deception” and “Right-to-Work” have failed to make it past the desk of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon over the last year. But the Show-Me State GOP is not to be deterred. The push for “Right-to-Work” will simply employ a different strategy this time around, according to Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder who told a crowd of ALEC conference attendees that his party will attempt to bypass the Governor:

I believe we will pass right-to-work next year and bypass (Nixon) entirely by putting it on the referendum ballot for voters.”

Though it eventually failed, the Missouri GOP recently took their anti-worker agenda further than in previous years:

The prevailing wage bill, House Bill 34, received one vote shy of a veto-proof majority in the Senate as a Republican senator was absent, but in the House the vote was 93-64, well below the magic override number: 109.

For “paycheck protection,” Senate Bill 29, the Senate was split down party lines with a 24-10 vote, proving to be veto-proof in the upper chamber. The House sat at 85-69, showing, again, not enough support to override a veto.

Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, who sponsored House versions of the three labor bills, said he was glad to see the lower chamber’s version of the “right to work” bill, House Bill 77, get all the way to the House calendar even though it wasn’t voted on.

“I think in [leadership’s] mind, they know next year is the right time to discuss it and so that’s where it ended up,” Burlison said. “Considering we know the governor will veto it, the question is do you throw something on the desk just to watch him veto it or do you try to get it on the ballot?”

Lt. Gov. Kinder’s promise of a “Right-to-Work” Hail Mary was probably more sonically pleasing to ALEC conference attendees than a Chris Gaines tribute album. Via St. Louis Today:

Kinder was one of several elected Missouri officials at the ALEC meeting. State Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, and Rep. Sue Allen, R-Town and Country, served as co-chairs for the Missouri delegation. Although ALEC offers business-financed scholarships to cover the conference registration, many of the Missouri officials said they planned to use campaign funds to cover the bulk of their expenses, such as travel and hotel costs.

House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, initially was listed by the Missouri House as attending the event. But Jones did not do so. He told The Associated Press that he had too much legislative work to do in Missouri in advance of next week’s House Republican caucus meeting and a September session during which legislators will consider whether to override gubernatorial vetoes.

St. Louis-based Peabody Energy was one of the larger financial sponsors of the conference, which included workshops touting the benefits of clean coal technology and coal exports.

Other large sponsors included the St. Louis lobbying and public affairs firm Pelopidas LLC, whose CEO, Travis Brown, was scheduled to speak Friday about how low-tax policies can help spur state economies. Brown gets substantial financial backing from retired investment executive Rex Sinquefield, who is spending more than $2 million on an advertising campaign attempting to persuade lawmakers to override Nixon’s veto of an income-tax cut bill.

“Right-to-Work” last went before the voters of Missouri in 1978 and failed by a wide margin.  However, political hostility towards unions has grown since then and union density has declined.  Despite this, unions can be expected to pull out all the anti-RTW stops. Bob Soutier, President of St. Louis Construction Labor Contractors, told The Missouri Times:

AFL-CIO and the affiliated unions will pump millions of dollars to protect labor rights,Soutier said.

He thinks that bringing up “Right to Work” as a measure is a “battle cry for Republicans trying to pump up their base.”

“They’re not going to do anything but cost themselves congressional and state House and Senate seats,” he said.

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