JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Senate third read and passed Sen. Dan Brown’s right-to-work bill just before noon Thursday.
Though the most significant hurdle came Wednesday night in the perfection of the bill, sending SB 19 to the House effectively ensures it will become law. Rep. Holly Rehder’s right-to-work bill passed through the House earlier this month, and Gov. Eric Greitens has expressed his enthusiasm to sign it.
House Speaker Todd Richardson held a short technical session Thursday afternoon to refer the bill to the House Economic Development Committee chaired by Rehder, who said Wednesday night she was looking to get started on it next week. Barring a massive unforeseen circumstance, the House could send Brown’s bill to the governor’s desk by next week.
In a statement, Brown said the bill was necessary to help make Missouri more competitive with other states.
“Right-to-work is the single biggest policy that can help protect worker’s freedom to choose whether a union works for them,” Brown said. “Right-to-work laws hold unions more accountable. They encourage unions to work hard to represent the interests of their members. They not only benefit the businesses but the employees, the employees’ families and even the unions themselves.”
Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh disagreed, calling the bill government overreach into affairs between a union and an employer.
“I belong to 8.8 percent of the population that lives in a union household, so why do we want to beat up on such a small minority,” she asked rhetorically. “To me, it’s just holding the middle class down a little more and making less of us.”
Despite a brief exchange between Sen. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, and Sen. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City, there was no discussion before the passage of the bill. Walsh said the fight had been fought during the second reading, and she had no intention to extend that into Thursday.
“I wanted every member in my caucus to be able to speak their piece,” she said. “I wanted us to stay on task, I wanted amendments offered that were germane to this bill… but I didn’t want to play games with the livelihood of Missourians across the state.”
Walsh added there was no point in filibustering a foregone conclusion. Brown thanked Walsh for her approach to the to the debate.
“Both sides remained pretty respectful through the debate and I respect Sen. Walsh helping in that,” he said.
While the right-to-work fight draws to a close, that does not mean labor reform will end. Several bills regarding paycheck protection, prevailing wage, and changes to collective bargaining for state employees have been heard in committee, and Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe said Republican leadership wanted to pass those pieces of legislation.
“The governor has said, and House and Senate leadership have agreed, there are probably several pieces of labor reform, as well as tort reform and government reform, that it’s going to take to make our state more competitive,” he said.
Walsh said her caucus would still look to fight against any more labor reform bills.