I would like to report on the Jefferson County angle on two recent happenings in the Missouri Legislature.
Paycheck Protection: This bill requires public sector unions in the state (i.e. those representing government employees) to get yearly permission from workers before taking automatic deduction of union dues from their paychecks. It passed the state House a week ago by a veto-proof margin. This idea is tougher for union types to argue against than right to work: while only two JeffCo GOP representatives have voted for right to work, so far (Shaul and Vescovo), four of the six voted for paycheck protection. Only Becky Ruth (114th district, Festus) and Elaine Gannon (115th, De Soto) voted no on this one, which now moves to the Senate.
The logic is this: if the employees don’t agree with the union’s politics, or don’t think it offers value, they shouldn’t be forced to pay. The union should have to collect its fees like any other organization, rather than receiving free collection services from the government. Furthermore, some ask why public unions even exist, given that state employees already receive the full range of civil service protections that make it so hard to fire bad ones.
Ethics: A number of ethics bills passed the House early in the session and are now being taken up in the Senate. Unfortunately, the Senate took out the knives and gutted the one year cooling off period provision, which would make legislators wait a year after leaving office before becoming a lobbyist. Recall last year when Senator Dempsey quit the Senate in order to become a lobbyist.
Adding to the unfortunateness, our own Senator Paul Wieland (22nd, Imperial, GOP) helped remove the cooling off period. We know this because the Missouri Alliance for Freedom (MAF) was watching in the Senate gallery. The Senate voted on the idea by standing division, which means no written record was kept. But the MAF saw Wieland join the anti-ethics side. I saw no word on whether Wieland, who made the top-ten list of lobbyist gift recipients in 2015, said anything in the Senate debate on a bill banning lobbyist gifts. That bill was shelved for a later time. Wieland needs to get on the right side of these ethics bills.