A look at Greitens’ legislative promises in the last week of session

Gov. Eric Greitens signs right-to-work into law Feb. 6. 2017 (Travis Zimpfer/MISSOURI TIMES)

With the end of session coming up, several newspaper editorials and article from across the state focused on what the Gov. Eric Greitens and the Missouri General Assembly should make as their primary issues of import with five days remaining in the regular session.

At The Missouri Times, we elected to look back at Greitens promises made during the State of the State address, and determine if he will accomplish some of his most prominent legislative priorities from just four months ago.

Ethics

Last week, I signed an executive order banning gifts from lobbyists to state employees of the executive branch. I think all elected officials should do the same.

Status: Pending in the legislature

Rep. Justin Alferman’s HB 60, which puts a total ban on lobbyist gift expenditures, has likely seen its last action as it has languished in the Senate since January. However, similar legislation saw lengthy discussion Friday in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe’s puts a limit on lobbyist gifts – not an outright ban – but it could also become the vehicle for a bill Greitens likely would not want to sign. Sen. Rob Schaaf attempted to attach an amendment that would force political nonprofits to disclose their donors, a response to attacks against him from A New Missouri Inc., a PAC specifically designed to support Greitens’ agenda.

If Schaaf manages to get his amendment onto the bill, it would likely kill any chance the bill has of being signed by the governor.

I also call on this legislature to put on the ballot, term limits for every statewide officeholder.

Status: Dead

Two amendments that would institute term limits on statewide officeholders have not yet left House committees, making it highly unlikely this bill makes it to Greitens’ desk. Rep. Dean Plocher’s did pass out of the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee in April by a slim 7-5 margin.

During the campaign, we came up with a simple proposal that the people supported. If you’ve been in a legislative office for one year, and you decide you want to become a lobbyist, you have to wait one year. If you’ve been in office for two years, then you have to wait two years—and so on. This is a simple, sensible proposal, and I’m committed to working with you to close the revolving door.

Status: Dead

Neither Rep. Joe Adams’ HB 213 nor Schaaf’s SB 3, which lengthen Missouri’s “revolving door” law to five years and two years respectively, have made significant progress in the legislature. Both remain in their respective committees.

Labor

That’s why we must join 27 other states and sign right-to-work.

Status: Signed into law

The first bill Greitens signed as governor will also likely be remembered as his most momentous. Republican lawmakers could use the final week of session to play lawn darts in front of the steps of the Capitol, and the session would still be a giant win for them because of the passage of right-to-work into law.

One of the most contentious labor issues in the nation, labor-friendly Republicans and Democrats withstood the onslaught of right-to-work for years with Gov. Jay Nixon sitting behind the desk, but the election of any GOP governor from the 2016 field would make right-to-work a reality. Greitens won the election, and his victory made right-to-work the law of the land in Missouri. For their part, the Republican legislature, with work from handlers Sen. Dan Brown and Rep. Holly Rehder, was quick and decisive on right-to-work, getting it to Greitens’ desk almost as soon as logistically possible.

That’s why we must do away with expensive Project Labor Agreements that drive up the costs of construction and slow down important projects in our communities.

Status: About to be signed

Sen. Bob Onder’s project labor agreement bill currently sits on Greitens’ desk, and he obviously intends to sign it.

We must repeal our state’s version of the Davis-Bacon Act, which drives up the cost of important construction work that needs to get done. It hurts rural workers. It sets back rural families.

Status: Pending in legislature

The prevailing wage bills in play are SB 20 from Sen. Dan Brown and HB 104 from Rep. Warren Love, but Love’s is the one to watch. Both bills fully repeal the state’s prevailing wage law, but Brown’s has yet to move out of the Senate, sitting on the informal calendar since March 7.

Love’s, however, has made it out of the House and through committee. It’s currently sitting on the informal calendar as well, and it could be brought up anytime this week. However, Democrats will likely stand as firmly against this bill as they did against right-to-work and could filibuster the language. If the bill does make it through to Greitens’ desk this year, it could be a top priority next session.

Tort Reform

There are some common sense changes we can make to fix this. We need to move to the Daubert standard for expert witness testimony. Right now, our standards are far too low. By moving to the Daubert standard, we’d be adopting the same standards used by the federal government and 39 other states.

Status: Signed into law

Greitens signed Rep. Kevin Corlew’s Daubert expert witness standard measure into law in late March.

We need to change our joinder and venue rules to end these out of state lawsuits…

Status: Pending in legislature and likely dead

Rep. Glen Kolkmeyer’s HBs 462 and 463 both have made some progress in February, but like so many other House bills this session, they appear to have stalled in the Senate. HB 462 would forbid a party from joining in a tort case if jurisdiction and venue cannot be established independently.

HB 463 has not made it out of the House yet. It would prohibit jurisdiction and venue from being established by joinder or intervention. Jurisdiction and venue would have to be established independently.

…and we must end frivolous lawsuits by reforming the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.

Status: Likely dead

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard’s SB 5, which would overhaul the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, has caused some headaches in the Senate as well, given multiple press reports and requests for investigations for Richard’s filing of the bill coinciding with a large donation from Joplin mega-donor David Humphreys. The language of the bill has raised the eyebrows of several legislators, given that Humphreys is in the middle of a class-action lawsuit for allegedly faulty shingles marketed as reliable, and the bill would change the law designed to protect consumers from false advertising.

Richard placed the bill on the informal calendar in February and has not touched it since. The likelihood it makes it out of the Senate, much less the House, shrinks by the hour.

Regulation

Together, with a team of outsiders and legislators, we are going to do a thorough, end-to-end audit of our tax credit system—and create a tax code that works not to benefit privileged insiders, but instead is fair to all.

Status: Dead

While a vast reform of the state’s tax structure has manifested into a bill, expect it to next year. Greitens created a special task force – the committee on Simple, Fair and Low Taxes – made up of senators, representatives and some of this staff to institute new tax policy and review the state’s tax credit system. Attendance from most members has faded as the weekly meetings have gone on, but a report is still expected on the governor’s desk June 30.

Law Enforcement Protection

I want to establish a Blue Alert system, so that we can find and bring swift justice to anyone who assaults a law enforcement officer.

Status: Pending in legislature

Sen. Dave Schatz’ Blue Alert bill –SB 265 – appears to be the version the Senate will debate to create a new call and text notification system to give citizens information and alerts when a police officer is injured or killed in the line of duty. However, the drama between Schaaf and Greitens started because Schaaf filibustered manage care expansion while Schatz had the bill on the floor. The ads that followed from the Greitens-supporting nonprofit featured Schaaf’s private cell phone number and the Springfield News-Leader reported the group also had ads in the works to attack other senators for standing in the way of legislation that would help law enforcement.

The bill was not on a list of legislation created and distributed by some senators to certify it as a bill that would not have opposition against it. Democrats have questioned some of the details and have concerns the policy could cause people to turn in the wrong people, or worse, when details are hazy in an attack on a police officer has not yet been determined. its fate is not yet sealed, but the bill would have to overcome significant hurdles to make it through the session.

And my administration will work with this body to pass the toughest laws in the country for anyone who assaults a peace officer.

Status: Pending in legislature

Rep. Marsha Haefner’s HB 57 has made it out of the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee and sits at number 11 on the House Bills for Third Read Calendar. The bill would do exactly what Greitens wants: put harsher penalties on people who deliberately attack law enforcement officers. Greitens made a passionate plea for this legislation after police shootings in Missouri and across the nation. If this makes it through the Senate, the House would likely take it up quickly to get it onto his desk.

Education

We need to expand course access programs, so that every child in Missouri can use technology to get the education they need.

Status: Dead

Multiple pieces of legislation exist in the Senate that would accomplish what is one of the vaguer, but generally agreed upon, policy descriptions in Greitens’ State of the State. Sen. Ryan Silvey and Rep. Kurt Bahr have legislation that would allow computer science courses to count as a science course in a district’s curriculum, and Rep. Jeannie Lauer has a bill that would mandate school curriculums include one course of a computer programming class. Lauer’s bill has traveled the furthest, receiving a Senate hearing last week. It would need an executive session, but Romine’s Senate Education Committee has not scheduled another hearing in the session’s final week.

Similarly, Romine has multiple bills which would most explicitly match Greitens’ desires, namely SB 327, which would create more provisions for virtual education and increase course access. It sits on the Senate calendar for perfection and would have to sprint through the House to have any chance of getting to Greitens’ desk.

We also need to make sure that every child in Missouri, especially those kids with special needs, get a fair shot at the American Dream. I will work with you to implement Education Savings Accounts for children with special needs.

Status: Pending in legislature

Rep. Shamed Dogan’s HB 773 would institute an education savings account program, but it never had a committee hearing. In the other chamber, Sen. Andrew Koenig’s SB 313 has passed the Senate and gotten out of the Rules Committee in the House, meaning there’s a chance it could come up for debate on the floor. If the house manages to pass it without amendments, it could find its way to Gov. Eric Dreitens’ desk.


So far, of what was stated in the State of the State, Greitens has delivered on some of his most prominent promises, specifically on right-to-work and Daubert expert witness standards to put emphatic checkmarks next to labor and tort reform. Some promises were not met, like an increased focus on education, but the Legislature has fully funded the foundation formula for the first time since its inception. He still has a chance to make good on his promises for increased law enforcement protections, but those major pieces of legislation face equally major hurdles.

It remains to be seen whether or not Greitens has kept all of his promises from January, but with some major pieces of legislation passed, he is still well on his way to cementing his legacy as a governor of the Show-Me State.

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