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Senate gives first round approval to ‘paycheck protection’ bill


By Eli Yokley

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — State Senate Democrats were able to stall passage of the so-called “paycheck protection” legislation Tuesday until they could attach an amendment limiting some of its scope.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla, seeks to prohibit public employee unions from using employee dues for political purposes. Democrats filibustered for more than eight hours before agreeing to an amendment from Minority Leader Jolie Justus that would allow members to annually vote on how their union dues are spent.

“Part of me just wants to let go of the rope — let’s see how your experiment works and let’s come back in 10 years and see what kind of mess we’re in,” Justus said before offering the amendment. “But the reality is the stakes are too high.”

The legislation, often supported by Republicans, is a tactic to dampen the influence of labor unions: a core Democratic political action machine. Brown said he felt both sides of the debate — labor and conservatives — were willing to give and were happy with the compromise.

“I think the annual opt-in is good for our group, the amendment that went on is good for the other side,” Brown said. “This gives a little clearer way of how we go forward in handling public union dues. We’re trying to bring them more like private dues.”

Similar legislation was expected to be heard in the House Tuesday.