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Missouri State Representative Lauren Arthur – Capitol Report 2/6/2017

Missouri State Representative Lauren Arthur represents Missouri House District 18, which includes North Kansas City and the surrounding Kansas City-North areas of Clay County. For more information on our Opinion Section and why we publish these newsletters from elected officials please click here.

Below you will find updates on legislative items like Right-to-Work and Collateral Source.

But first, a quick word on the budget. Last week, Governor Greitens announced his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018. He slashed higher education, reducing funding by $159 million overall. He targeted both four-year universities as well as community colleges. These cuts will undoubtedly result in tuition increases.

Regarding K-12 funding, Greitens has recommended an anemic $3.2 million bump to the $3.35 billion appropriated during the current fiscal year to support local public schools. Under the state law, another $48 million is needed to claim full funding of K-12 schools in FY 2018. The Republican-controlled legislature reduced the amount needed for full funding by $400 million last year.

The state legislature is now tasked with writing the budget. It can accept, reject, or change any of the Governor’s recommendations. Lawmakers must pass the FY 2018 state operating budget no later than May 5th.

Thank you for taking time to stay updated. If you ever have a question or feedback, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I appreciate all the responses from the last newsletter.

SO-CALLED “RIGHT-TO-WORK,” SB 19

The Republican-controlled House voted 100-59 to grant a final approval to legislation that would make it a crime punishable by jail time for the business owners to negotiate labor contracts that require workers to pay dues for the union representation they receive. SB 19, which previously passed the Senate, was signed into law this morning by Governor Greitens.

Again, majority Republicans rejected an attempt by House Democrats to give voters the final say on the issue by putting the measure on the statewide ballot. Missouri voters overwhelmingly rejected “Right-to-Work” when it last appeared on the ballot in 1978.

Under this law, business owners face a penalty of up to 15 days in jail and a $300 fine for requiring all employees in a bargaining unit, including those who choose not to join a union, to pay dues to cover the cost of representation.

I voted against the legislation. Right-to-Work states have lower wages, more dangerous working conditions, and higher poverty. The measure was championed by a megadonor who has given millions of dollars to the majority party and Republican candidates.

UBER

By a vote of 140 in favor and 16 against, the House passed a bill that would allow ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft the ability to operate statewide. The legislation outlined regulations, including a $5,000 fee, background checks, and vehicle inspections. I offered an amendment to protect the privacy of riders and drivers’ data from being misused by ride-sharing companies. The House adopted my amendment unanimously. You can read more about it here.

I voted in support of this bill. It will now go to the Senate for approval.
Read more HERE.

COLLATERAL SOURCE

The House of Representatives voted to pass collateral source. Under Missouri’s current system, in special damages and injury cases, plaintiffs can present evidence of both the original amount billed and the amount paid by the plaintiff and his or her insurance company. The judge then determines what amount is put into evidence to be presented to a jury. The bill passed changes the law. Now, a defendant in a lawsuit can reduce the amount of medical bills put into evidence and avoid fully compensating the person injured.

I voted against this legislation. It punishes someone who does the responsible thing by purchasing insurance. It gives the benefit of a person’s insurance to the wrong person — the one who causes an injury.

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