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Weekly Capitol Report - January 27

Legislative Update

Economic Development

The Senate passed Right-to-Work this week.  It has a change in the legislation from our House version.  We will hear it again in our committee on Monday, then it should be on the House floor and to the Governor's desk!

House Approves Legislation to Pave the Way for Uber and Lyft (HB 130)

The Missouri House gave final approval this week to legislation that would allow rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft to expand services throughout the state. The legislation is a priority of House Speaker Todd Richardson who hopes to create a statewide framework that will allow private enterprise to thrive in a free market. Uber has already promised as many as 10,000 jobs in the first year if the bill is passed into law.

The legislation is meant to allow transportation network companies to expand beyond municipalities that have passed their own ordinances governing ridesharing. Currently, Uber operates only in Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia, and Springfield. Lyft does not currently operate in Missouri, but recently announced it will begin offering services in Springfield.

The bill’s sponsor said the benefits of allowing transportation network companies to expand in Missouri include the creation of jobs and businesses, and a reduction in the number of drunken driving arrests in the state. He said it’s time to “add Missouri to the list of 38 other states that have passed similar legislation and provided their citizens with the opportunities provided by transportation network companies.”

House Bill 130 would establish criteria for fare charges and customer receipts. It would also require local and national criminal background checks for drivers; inspections for vehicles; and an annual registration fee of $5,000. Additionally, the bill would exempt transportation network companies from local or municipal taxes.

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Senate Hearing on the Narcotics Control Act
The senate heard Sen. Schatz bill for a prescription drug monitoring system in Missouri.  Sen. Schatz and I are working together again this year on this life saving legislation.  As you know the senate has been our hold up so once again, Senator Schatz is doing the heavy lifting!  

As you can see from the photos, the room was packed as well as the hallway outside.  Missourians from all across the state came to let their voices be heard about the need for us to join all other states in allowing our medical professionals the ability to have their patients medical information.  This is imperative, otherwise a doctor does not have the information they need to make the best decisions for their patient. I will keep you updated as we move through this process.



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Right to Work passes through the House floor





Right-to-Work Passes the House; now onto the Senate (HBs 91, 42, 131, 265, & 314)

The House moved today to advance legislation meant to spur job creation and economic development in the state, Right-to-Work.  The bill would simply ensure employees are able to decide whether to join a labor union instead of being forced to join as a condition of employment.

Bureau of Labor statistics show states that have adopted similar legislation have seen employment increase by 13.4 percent between 2002 and 2012. In comparison, employment in states without Right-to-Work grew by only 0.6 percent. Additionally, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Real Personal Income grew by 9.6 percent between 2008 and 2014 in the six Right-to-Work states that border Missouri. In Missouri and its two neighboring non-Right-to-Work states, Real Personal Income grew by just 3.5 percent.  Kentucky, just enacted a Right-to-Work law last week.

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration where it is expected to receive approval. Governor Greitens has already made Right-to-Work one of his top priorities and again emphasized the need to pass the bill during his State of the State Address Tuesday evening.

We had many representatives stand up and speak on the bills.  The support in the House has grown tremendously over the years.


I loved seeing these two classy ladies at the Inaugural Ball! Mrs. Shirley Young and Mrs. Haraleen Bowers, pictured with me, are both dear friends from Scott City.

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Weekly Capitol Report - 1/13/17
New State Leaders
Thousands of Missourians from across our state made their way to Jefferson City this week to join in the festivities as the state welcomed its new statewide officials. During the November elections Missourians elected Republicans to fill the statewide positions on the ballot. On Monday, Missourians saw Eric Greitens sworn in as the 56th governor of Missouri. Joining him as statewide office holders are Mike Parson, who was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor; Jay Ashcroft, who takes over as Secretary of State; Josh Hawley, who is Missouri’s new Attorney General; and Eric Schmitt, who will now serve as the State Treasurer. They join Nicole Galloway, who currently serves as State Auditor. Galloway is the only Democrat currently holding one of the six statewide posts in the executive branch, and was appointed to the position following the passing of Tom Schweich.
House members participated in events throughout the day including an interfaith prayer service and a ceremony to recognize Missouri’s heroes. Those in attendance for the salute to heroes heard from the mother of a Navy SEAL who was killed in Afghanistan. She talked about the heroism of veterans and the importance of patriotism. Greitens talked to the crowd about the importance of recognizing the efforts of the best representatives of the Missouri people.
After being sworn into office, Greitens delivered a short address where he talked about the need to work together to move Missouri forward. As he told a crowd of thousands, “For decades, Missourians have talked about change. Now it’s time to fight for that change.” He added, “Our state’s world famous motto, ‘Show me’, reminds us that Missourians don’t much value big talk. Our state’s great history reminds us that Missourians have always understood that big achievements demand hard work. ‘Show me’ doesn’t mean ‘Give me.’ It means ‘prove it can be done, and we will do it.’”
Greitens followed his speech by issuing an executive order banning lobbyist gifts for executive branch officials. The order also prohibits employees in the governor’s office from leaving their jobs to become lobbyists.
That evening, members joined the governor for the Inaugural Ball in the Capitol rotunda. Legislators and our families descended the staircase outside the governor’s office as we were formally introduced as members of the Missouri General Assembly. Governor Greitens and his wife then kicked off the ball by dancing to the Missouri Waltz. The festivities continued with a performance by country music recording artist, and Missouri native, Sara Evans.
Economic Development Committee Hearing
Right-to-Work Legislation Begins to Move Through the House.
House Bills 91, 42, 131, 265 & 314



House Speaker Todd Richardson made it clear in his Opening Day address that the Missouri House would move quickly to pass a Right-to-Work bill. As you guys know me, this has been one of my top priorities since being elected so I didn't waste any time moving it.  

In just the second week of the 2017 legislative session, in the House Economic Development Committee, we met to discuss five similar Right-to-Work legislative proposals.  One of the five was House Bill 91 that I pre-filed in December.  
We took testimony on all five bills.  The main points being:
  • You cannot require employees to join or refrain from joining a labor organization simply to keep their job;
  • You cannot require employees to pay money to a labor organization; or
  • You cannot require employees to pay any charity or third party the equivalent of money required to be paid by members of a labor organization.

All sponsors testified before the committee to detail the benefits of the proposals. We highlighted the importance of giving workers the freedom to decide whether to join a union, and the increased level of accountability that union members would see from their unions as a result. In my testimony I explained, “The change is simple. The union will now have to provide a service worth paying for to their members. They are no longer guaranteed members regardless of service or value, so they will have to work for them just as the union member works for their paycheck.”
We also focused on the economic benefits that other states have seen after implementing Right-to-Work.  Echoing the comments of House Speaker Richardson, who said in his Opening Day Address that, “Since becoming a Right-to-Work State in 2012, Michigan has added 58,000 manufacturing jobs.  While over the last two years Missouri has lost about 1,200 manufacturing jobs. And what’s more, Michigan’s average weekly wage isn’t declining; it is growing at almost twice the rate of Missouri’s.”
State Treasurer Eric Schmitt also spoke in support of the measures along with the state’s top business groups. Schmitt noted that Missouri is in fierce competition with other states for jobs and that the Show-Me State needs to use every tool in the arsenal to attract new businesses. He said he has met with site selectors and being a Right-to-Work state is at the top of the list of the things they consider when looking for a new location for their companies.
As you can see from the photo below, the room was packed with standing room only.  The committee went for 3 1/2 hours but I felt for the most part it was very cordial and respectful.  As representatives we differ on policy beliefs fiercely at times, but I understand that we are all striving for the same goal - to make Missouri a better place for our families.  Our opinions just differ on the best path to that outcome.  
Our committee met again the next day, rolled all five bills together retaining the language of House Bill 91, and voted it out of committee by a vote of 8 - 4.  The bill then received the approval of the House Rules – Legislative Oversight Committee Thursday afternoon. Debate should begin on the House floor next week.




House Gives Initial Approval to Gift Ban (HB 60)
A state House proposal aimed at banning gifts from lobbyists to elected officials received first round approval from the Missouri House of Representatives Thursday. HB 60 is nearly identical to a gift ban proposal filed in 2016, which was passed out of the House with 147 votes in favor. 
House Bill 60 is meant to help restore the public’s trust in elected officials by limiting the influence of lobbyists. As the sponsor said about the bill, “We are trying to eliminate the undue influence of lobbyists on legislators in the building.  That is the individually, personally consumable gifts from lobbyists to legislators. These are the one-on-one dinners; these are the press boxes at sporting events in the state.  That’s what we’re trying to limit.”
In addition to the prohibitions on expenditures by lobbyists for elected officials, the bill would remove reporting requirements that would not be necessary with a ban in place.  It would exempt from those prohibitions flowers and plants given as expressions of condolence or congratulations. It would also exempt items such as plaques given to lawmakers when they are recognized by an organization.
House Speaker Todd Richardson has said he wants the gift ban bill to be the first thing the House sends the Missouri Senate this session.  It was debated on Thursday and is expected to be complete and sent to the Senate next week.



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Weekly Capitol Report: Session has begun
2017 Legislative Session has Begun!


The members of the Missouri House of Representatives convened in the House Chamber on Wednesday, January 4 to officially open the 99th General Assembly. As we begin the 2017 legislative session, the House currently stands at 116 Republicans and 46 Democrats with one vacancy. Of the 162 members serving in the House, there are a total of 39 new members, which includes 20 Republicans and 19 Democrats.
The party breakdown in the House means Republicans will once again have a super majority.  A super majority with a new Republican Governor.  I expect many bills that have been vetted year after year to make it through quickly.  I'm sure you know one main priority on our list is Right-to-Work.

The legislature opened the 2017 legislative session with a much more optimistic tone regarding its working relationship with the incoming governor. As Speaker Todd Richardson said to the members of the House, “For the first time in Missouri’s history, our great state is governed by a super-majority of Republicans and a Republican in the governor’s mansion.” He added, “But with this greater power comes even greater responsibility; a responsibility to make the legislative process deliberative.  That means we must respect the voices and viewpoints of every Missourian, as represented by each and every one of you.”  

I couldn't agree more.  I would just like to add that it also means we must act.  No longer are the days of excuses for not getting much needed reforms across the finish line.  I'm excited and honored to be a part of this 2017 Legislature and am looking forward to helping our government get out of the way of our businesses so that they can grow and thrive once again.






Regulatory Reform
The Speaker called on us to remove the unnecessary government regulations that stifle innovation and job creation. He tasked two House committees with examining the state’s regulation and licensure requirements and crafting legislation to relieve the regulatory burden on businesses in Missouri. Richardson noted that companies like Uber, Lyft, AirBnB, HomeAway, and others have expanded nearly everywhere but in Missouri. He said in Missouri these businesses have met with regulations that have stifled their growth. As he said in his Opening Day speech, “It is past time that Missouri had statewide frameworks for disruptive technologies and allowed private enterprise to function in a free market.”
The Speaker has made right-to-work one of his top priorities for the session. You know how this makes me feel!  I profiled the bill in December and will be hearing all five Right-to-Work bills in committee on Tuesday.  

As the Speaker noted, Missouri is now in the minority nationally and one of the last states in the region that doesn’t allow workers to choose whether they want to join a labor union.  He cited statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that show Michigan has added 58,000 manufacturing jobs since becoming a right-to-work state in 2012. In comparison, Missouri has lost approximately 1,200 manufacturing jobs over the last two years. The Speaker also noted that Michigan’s average weekly wage is growing at almost twice the rate of Missouri’s.

Tort Reform
In his address, the Speaker also called on the legislature to help create a court system that is fair to all litigants. He noted that St. Louis was recently rated the worst judicial jurisdiction in the country, which he said is the result of state policies that have made the city a national magnet for massive litigation. The Speaker said it his goal to get major pieces of tort reform to the floor and over to the senate for consideration early in session.  The Speaker said, “We must make Missouri a place where fear of needless litigation is not a disincentive to job creation.”  All I have to add is Amen.
Education Reform
In the area of education reform, the Speaker said the goal is to embrace what is working and continue to invest in the thousands of educators across the state who are tasked with the incredible responsibility of teaching Missouri’s youth. At the same time, the Speaker said it’s important to be mindful of the areas where the state is falling short and to be willing to embrace innovation. As the Speaker said, “During this session, we will work to increase access to high performing charter schools. We will work to expand course offerings through virtual education. And we will work to make education savings accounts available to parents and students most in need.”
Ethics Reform
Richardson also said the first bill out of the House in 2017 will be substantive ethics reform that will ban gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers. Richardson said to his colleagues, “Missourians also want a government they can trust and believe in.  Last year we passed the first meaningful ethics reform in modern Missouri history, and we must continue the job we started. A gift ban will be the first bill out of this House.”  This bill has also been assigned and will be heard in committee next week.


Swearing-in photo for the 2017 Legislative Session.  Speaker Todd Richardson and Representative Holly Rehder.
House Speaker Announces New Committee Structure and Makes Committee Assignments
On the first day of the 2017 legislative session the Speaker of the House also announced committee assignments for the members of our caucus. The assignments come with a revised committee structure that is meant to allow members to better focus on specific areas of expertise. 
Previously, members would serve on four to five committees and have their attention spread across numerous issues. During the 2016 session, the House had nearly 60 committees. For 2017 that number will drop into the 30s. With the new structure, members will serve on two or three committees and be able to devote more of their time and attention to the policy areas covered by their committees.
The new House committee structure will also allow for the creation of subcommittees to focus in on specific policy issues. The subcommittee structure will allow members to gain additional specialized expertise within the broader issue areas discussed by their committees.

I have been selected as Chair of Economic Development.  All labor reform bills will be assigned to this committee and we are looking forward to a fast and productive year!
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Holly Rehder, state representative, 148th District paid for by friends of Holly Rehder, Lisa Neumeyer, Treasurer
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