By Ashley Jost
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — In the midst of his third term in the House, Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, said he is mixing-up the way he approaches his time during session this year.
Burlison said during the past few months he has tried to focus on learning from his mistakes and growing in order to make his time as an elected official something he and his family can be proud of.
One of the larger issues Burlison said he’s worked hard on is one that he thinks is of the utmost concern to his constituents: “right to work.”
“When I talk to businesses in my district and ask what their top three issues are, they say number one: Freedom to Work, number two: Freedom to Work and three: Freedom to Work,” he said. “If you’re going to represent southwest Missouri, you don’t only need to support Freedom to Work, you need to champion it.”
Sponsoring this legislation for the second year in a row, Burlison said he is confident the bill will pass the House this session, and could pass the Senate if it is brought to a vote.
“I’m not delusional to think the Governor is going to sign it,” he added. “But, that shouldn’t stop me from doing what I think is the right thing to do. When I played baseball, my coach would discipline me if I hit a pop fly and didn’t leg it out. It’s my job to put my head down and hustle.”
Burlison also touted his view that “paycheck protection” is important for his district and the state, mentioning that while he thinks employees should have the right to join a union or an association. However, he doesn’t think membership should be mandated.
“The unions in Missouri that aren’t forced are better unions,” Burlison added. “They represent their people better because they have to. If they don’t, members don’t pay their dues.
Coming from a background in healthcare on the technology and business side, Burlison said it is clear to him that it is time to figure out what’s driving up costs within the industry. From testimonies during hearings for tort reform legislation, and from concerns brought to him from his constituents, he said one cause is the “obscene” amount of medical malpractice premiums doctors have to pay because of the lack of lawsuit damage caps.
He added that the people who are ultimately responsible for those increased premium costs are the patients, otherwise, as is sometimes the case, physicians have to close their practices.
The buzz surrounding Burlison and the part he is playing in some of the most talked about pieces of legislation has grown during the last few weeks throughout the Capitol.
“I’m not trying to be a strong voice, I just feel like it’s more of an internal drive to be proud of what I’ve accomplished,” he added. “I ‘m not looking for applause, but I appreciate that people are paying attention. I’ve come to the conclusion that at the end of these eight years, most of the people in this building aren’t going to remember or care who I am, but back home my family will remember and care.”
Ashley Jost is no longer with The Missouri Times. She worked as the executive editor for several months, and a reporter before that.