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Zombie Law: Missouri “Right-to-Work” Expected to Die Anew in Blaze of Fruitless Override Glory


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Lawmakers will return to Jefferson City this week to revisit “Right-to-Work” legislation previously vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon.  After decades of failed attempts, the unlikely happened this spring when the Missouri GOP finally got enough votes in both the House and Senate to get the legislation to the Governor’s desk.  Now, as the legislature reconvenes to attempt to override vetoes from summer, “Right-to-Work” is going to have one more day in the contentious sun.  

An analysis from the Associated Press shows how unlikely the veto override is.  In the House, where override would need to start, 109 votes are needed.  The original vote passed on a 92-66 tally.  In the Senate the original vote was 21-13.  So, in order for “Right-to-Work” to become law everyone who previously voted in favor of it would have to do so again in addition to 17 members of the House and two members of the Senate changing their minds.

In the original house vote, 23 Republicans voted against “Right-to-Work.” According to the AP, nine of those Republicans have said publicly they will continue to support Governor Nixon’s veto. 

So, even if the remaining 13 Republicans who have not made their stance known decide to vote in favor of “Right-to-Work” this time around, it would still fail to pass the House.

Further complicating matters for Republicans is that passage of “Right-to-Work” was accomplished mostly through the political muscle of former House Speaker John Diehl.  But Diehl’s sexting scandal with a 19-year-old intern forced his ouster. Real top notch folks behind “Right-to-Work,” I tell ya.  

Diehl’s departure makes veto override DOA, the Joplin Globe writes:

In this battle, it appears Nixon and his allies are winning the fight that almost certainly became easier with the resignation of Diehl in May. A boisterous St. Louis lawyer, Diehl knew how to wield his power over lawmakers with things like cushy committee assignments, his large campaign fund and control over whether a lawmaker’s bill could even be brought up for debate.

Diehl — who had a year and a half left in the seat Richard once said made a politician “the most powerful man in Missouri” — also knew the power of a promise, even if he knew he could not keep it. Promises, in this case, could have helped him flip the nearly two-dozen votes Republicans will need to override Nixon’s veto in the House.

The problem, one lawmaker said on Saturday, is that Diehl is not there anymore to remind lawmakers of those promises, and his successor, Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, is not the kind of man known to pick a fight that could turn some in the Republican party against him.

“He is a consensus builder,” said one lawmaker. “Todd feels like this is a fight that he did not ask for.”

Near impossible odds won’t stop the GOP from grandstanding this week, however. The party is being asked to take up the issue by the five Republican candidates running for Governor in 2016.  In a joint letter, candidates Eric Greitens, Catherine Hanaway, Peter Kinder, Ray Asbury, and John Brunner wrote: “Right to Work’s benefits are undeniable.  This override is necessary both economically and politically.”

Meanwhile, labor unions and Governor Nixon, who is term limited and writing the final chapters of his tenure, are rallying both against “Right-to-Work” and for the Republicans who opposed it.  Over the weekend the AFL-CIO knocked on doors in Jefferson County in support of the anti-RTW politicians. Mike Louis, Missouri AFL-CIO president, told St. Louis public radio that they hoped to send the message that “labor supports the elected officials who help and support us.”

“The reason that we staged (the rally) here in Jefferson County is because we had a lot of legislators from both sides of the aisle support us during session and all through the summer,”

In Kansas City, over 500 union members rallied in support of Governor Nixon’s veto of “Right-to-Work.”  Teamsters President James Hoffa spoke to a crowd at Local 41’s union hall, saying: “Some people say unions have too much power.  I say we need a hell of a lot more.”

Nixon appeared at the hall as well, telling the crowd:

“This attempt by outside special interests to cut wages for workers would also reduce access to training, jeopardize public safety and weaken our entire economy.  That’s why a strong bipartisan coalition of legislators continues to support my veto of this divisive legislation. I look forward to the General Assembly sustaining my veto and getting back to the priorities that are moving our state forward.”


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