House Employment Law Reform Bill Clears House, Despite Opposition from Some Republican Representativ
February 9 – The Missouri House today approved the employment law reform bill 89-68, despite opposition from some Republicans. Nearly every person speaking in opposition to the bill appeared to not even have read the bill, as their concerns had been addressed in the bill.
Interestingly, 9 of the 16 Republican representatives voting “no” on the first round vote on the bill were from the Kansas City area. Representatives Berry, Marshall, Brattin, Schieber, Neth, Silvey, Torpey, Lasater, and Solon all voted against the bill. In fact, 22 of the 70 total votes against the bill were from representatives of the Kansas City area. Other Republicans voting against first round approval of the bill included Representatives Asbury, Bahr*, Barnes, Cookson*, Leach, Weter, and Wyatt. Two Democrats that supported the bill last year switched their votes and voted against the bill on the first round vote this year (Representatives Shively and Swinger).
*UPDATE: On the final 3rd Reading vote, Representatives Bahr and Cookson voted in favor of the bill.
Some of the false arguments against the bill made it apparent that many that objected to the bill had not even read the bill. There were claims that the bill did away with trials by jury. There are two specific sections allowing any party to receive a jury trial. There were objections to a section dealing with summary judgments – the summary judgment section was removed from the bill. There were claims that this law did not comply with the federal law because of its impact on housing discrimination claims, when, in fact, the language specifically excludes housing discrimination claims from the provisions of the bill. One representative even claimed whistle-blowers whose employers violated the law would not be protected, when the language specifically protects whistle-blowers whose employers have violated the law, regulations, and public policy. At least one representative even claimed that the bill would allow religious persecution – this could not be further from the truth as the bill simply aligns Missouri law with the federal law and religious persecution is certainly not allowed under federal law.
It’s one thing to oppose a bill based on the actual language of the bill, but quite another to object to a bill without grounds. Business men and women should ask their elected representatives and senators how they voted on this legislation and ask for their support the next time they have an opportunity to vote on the legislation.