Associated Industries of Missouri issues 2022 Legislative Session Vote Ratings
By Ray McCarty, President and CEO
To say the 2022 Legislative Session was anything but usual is clearly an understatement! Associated Industries of Missouri (AIM) worked very hard on business issues but faced numerous challenges this session.
The Missouri Senate approved very few Senate bills, conducted very little debate on real issues and left the Missouri House to do the work of passing Senate versions of bills that had passed before the Senate adjourned early - a full day before the Constitutional adjournment deadline.
The problems in the Senate were evident from the very start. Hard feelings from previous sessions and veto sessions, political infighting, and personal conflicts mixed with the usual election year political posturing to create a difficult environment. But add to that an open U.S. Senate seat, and many current legislators set their sights on either taking the seat themselves or running for the seats of other candidates running for that U.S. Senate seat. This created a perfect storm in the Missouri Senate as legislators tried to distinguish themselves from those running for the same positions in the 2022 elections – a fact that stifled the Senate for the entire legislative session.
The top priority of business this session was SB 631, a bill that would lower the statute of limitations for bringing a personal injury lawsuit from the current five years (longer than most other states) to a more reasonable two or three years. That bill was filibustered by Republican and Democrat senators. Sen. Steven Roberts (D) attempted to reverse the reasonable changes we made to align Missouri’s discrimination standard with the federal standard. Sen. Greg Razer (D) tried to use the opportunity to expand Missouri’s Human Rights Act to specifically cover sexual orientation and gender identity. Both of those amendments failed because they were beyond the scope of the bill. Then, Sen. Bill Eigel (R), Sen. Mike Moon (R), and several Democrat senators filibustered the bill until it was effectively dead. Because the bill was filibustered, there was no vote on the bill on the Senate floor and these senators’ positions against the business community will not be properly reflected in these vote ratings. We used the only vote that was taken on the bill for these ratings, the Senate committee vote, meaning only committee members’ votes will be reflected.
Similar games were played throughout the entire legislative session in the Senate. Approval of the Senate journal of the previous day’s business, normally a perfunctory exercise, became fodder for all-day filibusters. Time, a precious commodity on the floor of the Missouri Senate, was wasted day after day by a handful of senators that blocked most meaningful legislation.
Given that level of dysfunction, one may expect the Missouri House to take the easy way out and not pass any significant legislation. But leadership in the Missouri House chose a different path – one that led to the successful passage of several pieces of legislation. House Majority Floor Leader and Speaker-elect Dean Plocher (R) deserves much of the credit for leading the House as they ignored the inaction of their Senate colleagues and passed legislation before adjourning at the constitutional deadline, rescuing the session from becoming a total waste of taxpayers’ money. We are pleased to report the House accomplished way more than most predicted. The leadership shown by Speaker Rob Vescovo (R) and House Majority Floor Leader Plocher was a welcome contrast to the total blockade of bills by certain Republican senators.
The House passed legislation originally introduced by Sen. Eric Burlison (R) that prevents the Missouri Department of Natural Resources from enacting Missouri environmental regulations that are stricter than required by federal statutes and regulations. Although the original bill did not pass, the House included the provisions in HB 2485, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Knight (R) and handled in the Senate by Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin (R) and passed the bill. AIM has worked hard on similar legislation over many years to prevent future state environmental agencies from basing punitive actions on “guidance documents” issued by unelected federal bureaucrats. That same bill requires the state environmental regulators to show their work when calculating penalties and authorizes a new type of recycling that would allow recycling of plastics that are now simply tossed in a landfill, also supported by AIM.
Also, after decades of trying, Missouri would once again be able to attract research and development activities due to revival of a state tax credit if HB 2400, sponsored by Rep. Dan Houx (R) and handled in the Senate by Sen. Denny Hoskins (R), is signed into law by Governor Parson.
However, the House was not simply a rubber stamp for business-friendly legislation. The business community was united in opposing efforts by legislators to prevent businesses from requiring COVID vaccinations, yet the Missouri House passed two House bills that would have allowed employees to refuse the vaccinations for virtually any reason: House Bill 1686, sponsored by Rep. Bill Hardwick (R) and HB 2358, sponsored by Rep. David Evans (R). The House also passed HB 1692, sponsored by Rep. Mitch Boggs (R), that would have allowed an employer who required an employee to receive a vaccination to be held liable by the employee for any perceived harm after the vaccination, rather than requiring the employee prove the harm was directly related to the vaccination – a plaintiffs’ attorney’s dream. Thankfully, those bills did not pass the Senate. Four Senate bills on the topic were combined into one bill as the sponsor, Sen. Karla Eslinger (R), worked to find compromise that would be acceptable to the business community and fellow legislators. In the end, only one bill passed, and it was limited to state employees.
The House also passed HB 1684, sponsored by Rep. John Black (R), that would have removed protections for consumers against including the cost of nuclear power generation projects in consumer rates prior to completion of the project. AIM opposed the bill as a danger to consumers due to disasters with similar language in other states and the bill did not pass.
A bill to provide a sales tax exemption for brain cancer treatments was derailed by an effort to repeal the state’s motor fuel tax increase. This was in response to the Missouri Department of Transportation’s decisions to give employees a raise immediately after passing the fuel tax increase, and to simultaneously file a lawsuit against the State of Missouri alleging the Highway Commission did not need state appropriation authority. AIM supported the fuel tax increase and worked very hard to prevent this repeal effort. Ultimately, we were successful as no such bill passed.
We hope the factors that combined to create a complete stalemate in the Missouri Senate will not exist in future legislative sessions.
Here are our vote ratings for the current and previous legislative sessions.
If you would like more detailed information on how your legislator voted on each bill, go HERE to find your Senator and Representative by entering your address, then click HERE to see the votes by each Senator and HERE to see the votes by each Representative on our rated bills.
For details on the bills we rated in the HOUSE, click HERE.
For details on the bills we rated in the SENATE, click HERE.
(C) 2022 Associated Industries of Missouri