Freshmen to Watch: Senator Justin Brown


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Sen. Justin Brown has already reached a milestone in his new position as a state senator: his first bill was perfected in March.

SB 71 changes provisions relating to workers’ compensation premiums, which Brown maintains is beneficial to both employers and employees. According to Brown, the bill will keep the Department of Insurance and other financial institutions from approving a worker’s compensation insurance policy if it includes monetary bonuses up to three percent against a yearly individual wage or contributions given exclusively to an individual employee.

“It’s a bill that states if you know you’re going to get a 401K contribution or a Christmas bonus or just a one-time monetary contribution to an employee, you shouldn’t have to pay workman’s comp insurance because there’s no risk involved with that,” Brown told The Missouri Times.

Sen. Justin Brown

“I’m well aware of what we’ve got to be able to keep good employees, and any break we can get as business owners we typically always want to pass onto our employees,” Brown, a Republican, said. “A fix like this, it doesn’t take long, and you know that you’re not only responsible for your employees, but you carry somewhat of a burden of what happens to their families too because they all depend on you. So if you don’t do your job and run your business right, you can let a lot of people down.”

Brown’s worked in a variety of fields throughout his life — banking, farming, and owning a small trucking business — and believes each job has prepared him for his current role in the Missouri legislature.

Brown serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee where he has warned his fellow legislators to cut down on the cost of several programs for the benefit of state finances. Brown has suggested generating a stronger state revenue to bring businesses to Missouri that have a focus on products made and sold locally. He’s also advocated for cutting down on programs that could potentially hinder business growth in the state.

“Appropriations is one of those committees where you really either like it or you don’t, and I really do enjoy being on that,” said Brown. “It’s kind of right down my alley as far as finance goes. But it’s a shame that everybody doesn’t get to experience that committee at least one session because it really teaches you how the money flows and how it works in this state.”

Aside from fraud, waste, and abuse, Brown suggested some problems plaguing Missouri could be the result of a lack of vision from older modes of thought in regards to how state finances should be run. Brown said the best way to combat that is to always have a fresh set of eyes assessing what does — and doesn’t — work, and how things can be improved.

“This is the first political position that I’ve ever held, and I think it’s a little easier for somebody like myself [who has] always been outside of the box looking in to come in with a fresh look,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of that in the Senate right now — some fresh faces that have never held office before. We’ve not been used to being in that political, career politician-type mode even if you do have a job outside of that.”

He concluded, “No matter what your job is, I think you get complacent, and it never hurts to have a fresh look.”