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AIM disappointed by vetoes of SB 28 and HB 611

Associated Industries of Missouri is disappointed in Governor Jay Nixon’s vetoes of bills that would make changes to the Missouri unemployment compensation guidelines.

The governor on Tuesday vetoed Senate Bill 28 and House Bill 611, two measures that overwhelmingly passed the legislature. House Bill 611 passed by a 140-18 margin in the House, while Senate Bill 28 passed by a final margin of 98-57.

“We are disappointed that common sense changes to Missouri’s unemployment laws were vetoed by Governor Nixon,” said AIM president Ray McCarty.

The bills change the definition of employee misconduct to knowing disregard of company rules. Currently, state labor laws read that the employee can only be disqualified for unemployment benefits if their job was terminated due to wanton or willful disregard.

Employers must currently also prove an employee acted intentionally and with substantial disregard of the employer’s interests to qualify as misconduct.

The bill disqualifies employees from unemployment benefits if the employee violates an employer’s rule.

The bill defines misconduct as violating a no-call, no-show policy, chronic absenteeism, tardiness, unapproved absences following a written warning, and a knowing violation of a state standard or regulation that could cause the license of an employer to be sanctioned.

Currently, workers are disqualified from benefits if they voluntarily leave work without good cause. The bill defines good cause as that which would compel a reasonable employee to cease working or which would require separation from work due to illness or disability.

The bills are designed to cut down on the amount of unemployment claims awarded to terminated employees throughout the state every year.

During testimony in House and Senate committees, employers shared horror stories of employees urinating off school buildings while school was in session, truck drivers habitually speeding in company owned 18-wheelers and employees found to be sexually harassing co-workers all qualifying for unemployment payments.

Currently, the state’s unemployment insurance fund is hundreds of millions of dollars in the red to the federal unemployment insurance stabilization fund. Proponents of the legislation say the state could save up to $500 million by enacting the components of the legislation.

“Our employers need relief from these kinds of ridiculous situations,” said McCarty. “With this veto, Governor Nixon has said he believes the current system is working fine.  Employers in Missouri disagree.”

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