Upper Chamber Takes Action on Key Issues
JEFFERSON CITY— Bills regarding key issues are already on the move as week three of the Second Regular Session of the 98th General Assembly comes to a conclusion. One issue Senate Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin, has stated as a top concern this session is tort reform.
“Missouri’s unfair and outdated civil judicial system has forced businesses and job creators out of the state,” said Richard. “I believe by addressing some basic, common-sense reforms, we are building a better business environment and improving our state’s litigation climate.”
Sen. Richard said the first step in tackling real tort reform is to strengthen the state’s expert witness testimony standard. Senate Bill 591 would align Missouri’s outdated expert witness standard with a similar standard found in the federal court system and most other states.
Bill sponsor Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, said updating the standard will help improve the reliability of expert testimony.
“We need a common-sense basic standard to ensure that judges act as gatekeepers so juries are given reliable, factual evidence,” said Parson. “Expert witnesses have the ability to significantly influence the outcome of cases. If someone says they are an expert, they better be a qualified expert. The bill clarifies the standard and adds certainty, consistency, and fairness for trustworthy testimony.”
The Senate gave final approval to Senate Bill 591 this week, and it now moves to the House for consideration.
The Upper Chamber’s next step will be considering a number of ethics reform proposals. Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe said he plans to move forward with bills from both the Senate and the House this upcoming week.
“The Legislature has and will continue to lead on key issues facing Missouri,” said Kehoe. “We are working on many different ethics bills this year with lots of different pieces. One big comprehensive plan has the potential to falter and not make it to the finish line. It’s imperative we move the ball down the field even if it’s by passing two or three pieces of ethics reform.”
Senate Leader Richard said the Senate has a great working partnership with Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, and members of the House, and both chambers plan to keep up the pace this session.
“We have our members working quicker than they ever have in the last 50 or so years. Our state works best when everyone is committed to moving legislation that will help improve our great state,” said Richard.
To learn more about these bills or to track their progress, visit www.senate.mo.gov.