JEFFERSON CITY – As the Missouri General Assembly concluded a successful 2017 legislative session Friday evening, House Speaker Todd Richardson praised his colleagues for the work they did to pass a substantive list of policy priorities including Right-to-Work, full funding for the School Foundation Formula, a regulatory framework to allow rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft to expand throughout Missouri, and several tort reform measures that will improve Missouri’s legal climate.
“We started this session with an ambitious legislative agenda, and after months of hard work, compromise, and negotiation we moved key priorities across the finish line that will invest in our young people and position our state for long-term economic success,” said Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff. “I want to thank my colleagues for their willingness to take on some very challenging issues, and to work together to build consensus on policies that will make our great state an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.”
The House and Senate worked early on in session to pass legislation (SB 19) that will make Missouri the nation’s 28th Right-to-Work state. Richardson said the change simply ensures workers have the freedom to decide whether to join a union, and also sends a strong message that Missouri is open for business. The General Assembly also approved legislation (HB 130) to create jobs and spur economic growth by establishing a regulatory framework that will allow rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft to expand throughout Missouri.
The legislature built on these accomplishments by passing several tort reform measures meant to create a court system that is fair to all, and that cuts down on frivolous lawsuits. Richardson said measures that establish expert witness standards (HB 153), implement collateral source reform (SB 31), and strengthen Missouri’s workplace discrimination standards (SB 43) will help end the fear of needless litigation that has served as a disincentive to job creation.
“We have sent a clear message that Missouri is a place where job creators can do what they do best. With these measures we have created that stable foundation upon which entrepreneurs and hard-working Missourians can grow their businesses and provide the kind of family-supporting jobs that Missourians want and need.”
Richardson also praised the work of House Budget Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick and the members of the House Budget Committee for the work they did to craft a fiscally responsible state spending plan that makes a record investment in K-12 education. Despite facing a budget shortfall of more than $500 million, the legislature was able to approve an operating budget that fully funds the School Foundation Formula for the first time since its creation. The state FY 2018 budget directs a record $3.39 billion in funding to the formula.
“In what was an incredibly challenging budget year, the House did exemplary work as stewards of taxpayer dollars and found a way to make an unprecedented investment in our young people and their future,” said Richardson. “This final budget represents some extremely tough choices, but ultimately represents the best possible investment of our tax dollars in the priorities shared by all Missourians.”
Other major legislative accomplishments highlighted by the speaker include:
• SB 182 – Prohibits Project Labor Agreements to ensure public construction projects are more affordable for taxpayers;
• HB 662 – Creates penalties that will protect crops and farmland from the misuse of illegal pesticides;
• HB 93 – Expands the Missouri Works program so that more of the state’s small businesses would be eligible for workforce training benefits.
• HB 93 - Establishes adult high schools in Missouri to give the approximately 500,000 Missourians without a high school diploma a second chance to obtain an education that will allow them to secure good-paying jobs.
• HB 151 – Gives Missourians the option to obtain photo identification that complies with the federal REAL ID Act.
• SB 66 – Protects Missouri’s workers’ compensation system from court rulings that expose employers to greater lawsuit liability.
• SB 34 - Creates a Blue Alert System to ensure law enforcement officials quickly receive the information they need to apprehend individuals who injure or kill peace officers.