JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Senate is expected to refer “paycheck protection” legislation to a committee before the end of the week according to staff in the Pro Tem’s office. HB 1617, sponsored by Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, in the House, is near the bottom of the list of House bills sent to the Senate. The rules of the chamber require bills be referred in order.
Todd Scott, General Counsel for Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, said they would “promptly” refer the bill before the end of the week.
Sen. Dan Brown, R- Rolla, who sponsored last year’s paycheck bill in the upper chamber, said he was initially wary of offering the bill again this year and that a ballot initiative is an “expensive proposition.”
“Early in our caucus meetings this year it wasn’t seeming like a priority,” Brown said. “And because of what happened last year with the override vote, I wasn’t really thinking I would offer it this year. But the House has worked very hard on it and I think we owe it to that to take it up.”
Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed Brown’s bill last year. On the override vote, Senators Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau and Gary Romine, R-Farmington, joined Democrats to kill the measure. Wallingford voted against the bill and Romine left the chamber during the roll call. Brown says that placing the issue on the ballot — which is what Rehder’s bill does — bypasses Nixon and gives Republicans another bite at the apple. Although he says it’s a risk.
“If you put it on the ballot, you have to be mindful of the fact that unions can mobilize a lot of voters in a short period of time,” Brown said. “There’s not a lot on the ballot to get people excited about, and I worry about a big union turnout. If you spend all this money, at least $10 million, to pass this on the ballot and then it fails, then it’s going to be really hard to come back to it any time soon.”
The House approved controversial paycheck legislation last week by a single vote and is expected to take up a Right-to-Work bill this week. In the Senate a single member wields more power and proponents of paycheck bills are urging passage, but with great caution. The future of labor legislation will be determined almost entirely in the upper chamber.