JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Chamber of Commerce has voiced its frustration about three of Gov. Jay Nixon’s vetoes on Tuesday, including one that would have allowed company owners to sell their businesses to employees rather than close up shop or sell to a competitor.
The other two vetoes that the chamber took issue with will “help Missouri keep its reputation as having one of the worst legal climates in the nation,” the Chamber said in one of two releases issued Tuesday.
Up first, the Chamber spoke out against Nixon’s veto of House Bill 2030, which was sponsored by Rep. Denny Hoskins, a Republican from Warrensburg. That bill would have allowed business owners to defer up to 50 percent of the taxes gained from the sale of stock to an employee stock ownership plan as long as the company is more than 30 percent employee-owned.
The bill passed both the Missouri House and Senate with support from both Republicans and Democrats. Upon final passage, the bill was widely praised in the state and even nationally, the chamber said. Forbes wrote it was “an issue everyone could support.”
Not Nixon, however.
“This is a frustrating decision by Gov. Nixon,” said Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. “The benefits of employee ownership are proven by research and illustrated by powerful anecdotes from employee-owned Missouri companies.”
Mehan urged lawmakers to override the bill in September during the special session, which he said would “help make employee-ownership a powerful job-retention tool in our state.”
The other two vetoes won’t help Missouri’s legal climate, Mehan said. Nixon vetoed Senate Bill 591 and Senate Bill 847. Senate Bill 591, sponsored by Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, would have required that people who testify as expert witnesses actually have knowledge of the topic, Mehan said.
Senate Bill 847, sponsored by Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, would have helped prevent out-of-proportion judgments by clarifying that in injury lawsuits, plaintiffs can only recover the costs of the actual medical expenses they incurred. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry supported both bills.
“The legal climate reform bills passed this session represented a common-sense first step toward moving our state back into the judicial mainstream,” Mehan said. “While this veto is very disappointing, it’s not unexpected. Trial attorney special interests are entrenched in Jefferson City, making it incredibly difficult to make any progress toward creating a fair judiciary in our state. The only good news is that this is an election year and voters will have the opportunity to select new representation. Over the next few months we will be urging Missourians to elect lawmakers and statewide office holders who value a fair judiciary over the interests of trial attorneys.”
The state currently rates as a “judicial hellhole,” according to the American Tort Reform Association. The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform says Missouri’s legal climate ranks 42 in the nation.