JEFFERSON CITY, M0. – HB 116, Republicans latest attempt at controversial “Right-to-Work” legislation lost its override attempt in the House during veto session after hours of floor debate, which garnered loud cheers and applause from full galleries of union members.
One Democrat, Rep. Courtney Curtis, and 95 Republicans voted to override – 13 short of the necessary two-thirds majority. Forty-two Democrats and 21 Republicans voted against it. Rep. T.J. Berry abstained from voting. The yea vote was four more than the regular session vote, which constitutes a few representatives that switched their votes.
Debate ranged from history lessons and constituent anecdotes, pleading the bill would both hurt and help businesses in respective legislator’s districts.
Rep. Jeremy LaFaver, D-Kansas City, shared the story of Almar Printing in the Waldo neighborhood in Kansas City, who asked him to vote against the override.
“Jeremy, don’t make us a criminal,” Almar Printing’s Sam Gromowsky told LaFaver, citing concerns against the part of the bill that would attempt to enforce the potential law.
Meanwhile, bootheel Republicans shared fears of manufacturers establishing plants across the state line from their district – robbing their constituents of jobs. They shared that the manufacturers viewed the lack of right-to-work as a “deal breaker, but not a deal maker.”
The Senate was recessed until the House had completed the vote. After overriding an additional bill, the House recessed.
The defeat marked the only bill so far today that the House has failed to override. This year’s veto session overrides make Gov. Jay Nixon the most overridden governor in Missouri’s history.
SEE THE ROLL CALL:
— Rachael Herndon (@herndonrachael) September 16, 2015
YEA NAY NV
DEMOCRATIC 1 42 0
REPUBLICAN 95 21 1
TOTALS 96 63 1
Releases were quickly distributed to press, ranging from Americans for Prosperity, who had a large group present showing support for the bill, to Hillary Clinton, who praised Gov. Nixon’s leadership.
Missouri Chamber of Commerce
“It’s incredibly disappointing to see our General Assembly — which is heavily comprised of lawmakers who were elected on pro-business platforms — continue to fall short when it comes to making Missouri a right-to-work state,” said Daniel P. Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “As a state that doesn’t support right-to-work protections, Missouri will continue to be overlooked for job creation and business expansion opportunities. If we are going to change our economy and create jobs for the future, we need to start with passing right-to-work. This issue is not going away.
“Despite the rhetoric you hear from opponents, right-to-work is not a new idea. It’s not extreme. It’s also far from rare. In 2015, right-to-work is a basic protection offered in half of the states across the country. If we don’t extend this basic protection to Missourians soon, our state will continue to fall off the map for job creation.”
Americans for Prosperity
“Gov. Nixon is the roadblock between Missouri and more prosperity, after bowing down to union bosses he blocked the legislature and the will of most Missourians,” said Luke Hilgemann, CEO of Americans for Prosperity. “While the price of Gov. Nixon’s support seems to be $50,000, you can’t put a price tag on worker freedom; this isn’t the end for right-to-work. Two years ago right-to-work did not seem possible in Missouri, but through education efforts and building a consensus around individual freedom we have seen Missourians embrace it.”
Patrick Werner, state director of Americans for Prosperity Missouri, added:
“Standing up for worker freedom is a fundamental right and because of that this isn’t the end of right-to-work for our great state. Momentum is clearly on the side of freedom – our lame duck governor and his financial sponsors are on the wrong side of history.”
“This legislation is the definition of big-government overreach and sought to use the vast power to the state to forever tip the scales in favor of corporate special interests and against the middle class,” said House Minority Leader Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis. “At a time when CEO pay is 364 times higher than what the average worker earns, right-to-work would further redistribute wealth to those on top and make it more difficult for workers to protect their wages and job security.”
Governor Jay Nixon
“Today’s bipartisan action by the legislature to uphold my veto of this divisive, anti-worker bill is a victory for workers, families and businesses here in Missouri and across the country,” Gov. Jay Nixon said. “I thank the members of the General Assembly – both Democrats and Republicans — who sent a clear message to the nation that Missouri will stand by its workers and oppose attempts by outside special interests to cut wages and weaken the middle-class. I look forward to working with leaders in the House and Senate on the bipartisan priorities that will truly strengthen our economy — like creating jobs, balancing budgets, investing in our local schools and making college more affordable.”
Protect Missouri Families
“So-called “Right to Work” is wrong for Missouri families,” said Mark Dalton of Protect Missouri Families. “Thank you to Governor Nixon for vetoing this misguided legislation. And thank you to the bipartisan coalition of legislators that stood today with Missouri’s working families and opposed this bad legislation by sustaining Governor Nixon’s veto.
For years, out-of-state corporate interests that ship jobs overseas have tried to pressure Missouri lawmakers into pushing “Right to Work” in order to increase their profits at the expense of middle class families. Today’s vote sends a strong signal that Missourians think “Right to Work” is wrong for our state.
“Moving forward, Protect MO Families will be working to support those who have stood with Missouri’s working families and also to recruit new candidates who will put the middle class first.”
“I applaud the leadership of Governor Jay Nixon and the bipartisan group of legislators who successfully blocked a harmful “right to work” law in Missouri,” said Hillary Clinton.
“A number of states, bankrolled by powerful corporate interests, have passed these laws in recent years. Their name is misleading. Instead of respecting workers or protecting their rights, “right to work” laws depress wages and benefits, undercut unions, and concentrate power in the hands of corporations and their allies. They’re bad for workers, bad for the economy, and bad for America.
“Right-wing attacks on the labor movement are nothing new. But they are growing in number and intensity. I’ve been disturbed by repeated state-level attacks on basic protections that unions have fought hard for over the years, like a prevailing wage, union dues deductions, binding arbitration, and collective bargaining.
“In Missouri, lawmakers said enough is enough. And by doing that, they scored a victory for Missourians and workers everywhere.
“As President, I will stand up to anti-union leaders who try to make workers scapegoats in times of economic hardship. And I’ll stand with all workers and lawmakers fighting for real workers’ rights – like the right to organize, bargain collectively, be paid fairly and retire with dignity and security. When unions are strong, families are strong. And when families are strong, America is strong.”
Rachael Herndon was the editor at The Missouri Times and also produced This Week in Missouri Politics, published Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosted the #MoLeg podcast. She joined The Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.