Labor, tort, education, ethics, and regulatory reforms will be among the focuses of the Missouri House Republican supermajority in the 2017 legislative session.
“We want to have an aggressive approach early in session and really follow through on some of the things that we think the voters were talking about when they spoke in November,” said House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff).
Labor reform efforts will include work to pass legislation supporters call “right-to-work,” and “paycheck protection,” as well as reforms to project labor agreements. Tort reforms will include resumption of efforts to pass legislation changing how expert witnesses are evaluated, and Missouri’s collateral source rule.
In education reform, Richardson says expansion of charter schools will be considered, and the caucus will look for ways to improve student achievement “across the board.”
“We’ve identified a task force of members in the House that’s going to start digging into those issues specifically,” said Richardson.
Richardson also wants to pick up where the legislature left off last year with ethics reform. With that, his first goal in the House will be to again pass a bill banning gifts from lobbyists to legislators.
“I was proud of last year that we were able to take some substantive, meaningful steps forward on ethics reform but I don’t think anybody thinks that that job is complete,” said Richardson. “We want the environment in Jefferson City to be better than it is today and that’s going to be an ongoing process. This year that’s going to start with work on the gift ban.”
Republicans will also study Missouri’s regulations of businesses.
“We want to take this notion of cutting red tape and removing the regulatory barriers for business out of the campaign space and into the practical legislative space,” said Richardson.
He said the legislature will continue the work it began last year on a statewide regulatory framework for ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft. The House will also push legislation being called, “The Sunshine Act,” which would require an analysis of proposed regulations before they are enacted.
Richardson said the House will also take a more comprehensive look at what licensing requirements exist in Missouri, to see if it presents “unnecessary barriers” to employment.
He said such regulations affect a broad section of Missourians. One example that has come up in legislation in recent years has been people who want to get paid to braid hair.
“You think about the notion of somebody having to go get literally hundreds of hours of training before the state will allow them to do a little hair braiding on the side because they want to earn some extra income,” said Richardson. “It’s just something that doesn’t make sense when you explain it to most Missourians.”
The prefiling of bills for the 2017 legislative session began December 1. The session begins January 4.