Protecting Our Employees’ Paychecks
Much of our focus in the Senate this week was on the topic of paycheck protection, an issue that has been debated by both chambers in previous years.
Paycheck protection represents the idea that no one should ever be compelled to give their money to support political causes they do not believe in. Unfortunately, some of our hard-working union members find themselves in just this position as their unions force members to pay dues to support political causes without the members’ consent.
The bill, handled in the Senate by Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla, prohibits public employees from being required to have their dues or other fees automatically deducted from their paychecks. Currently, public employees are required to “opt-out” of membership, a process that is often made difficult and unfairly stigmatizes the union member. This measure would change it so that employees will be able to “opt-in” if they so desire by providing written authorization.
This legislation also helps to ensure that an employee will not be forced to support causes or lobbying efforts that they do not agree with. Instead, an employee can research the causes his or her union supports and then determine whether or not he wishes to have dues deducted for that use. This approach provides fairness for employees by allowing them to determine how their money is spent.
The bill returned to the House following Senate debate so House members could have an opportunity to consider the changes made by the Senate and take a final vote on the bill. The measure now heads to the Governor’s desk.
While paycheck protection took much of our floor time this week, we still had the opportunity to debate additional bills, including one relating to ethics reform. House Bill 2203 was brought before the full Senate on Thursday and debated for much of the day. That bill requires any elected official who registers as a lobbyist to divest his or her campaign account prior to doing so. The language provides options as to how the legislator can divest of such money, including by returning it directly to donors.
The bill also contains a provision that allows legislators to invest campaign funds in short-term investments so the money can be easily accessed. These measures help ensure that donations are used for a candidate’s pursuit of public office, as opposed to being used as a slush fund to help start a lobbying business or investing or speculating for personal gain.
The ethics bill now heads back to the House for consideration.
As always, I had the pleasure of meeting many constituents this week and other visitors to the office, including a great group of students from Immaculate Conception in Dardenne Prairie. I also had a chance to spend time with my great staff and interns as we bowled at the annual Senate Bowling Tournament. This year, the Senate raised nearly $7,000 from the tournament for the St. Raymond’s Society.
The next two weeks prior to Easter break promise to be very busy. I hope to have great news to share in the next few columns about some of the big items we are tackling at the state capitol.
Thank you very much for your continued support. It is an honor to serve you.
Capitol Visitors – I always enjoy welcoming visitors to my office, most especially constituents from my district.
Contacting Sen. Onder
Throughout this session, I will do my best to keep you informed of our work here in the Capitol. I encourage you to contact my office if you have comments, questions or concerns.
For constituent questions, scheduling and general questions, please contact my Scheduler and Director of Constituent Services Theckla Spainhower at Theckla.Spainhower@senate.mo.gov.
For questions pertaining to legislation, please contact my Chief of Staff and Legislative Director Jennae Neustadt at Jennae.Neustadt@senate.mo.gov.
You can reach my Capitol office at (573) 751-1282. You can also e-mail me personally at Bob.Onder@senate.mo.gov.
I would like to encourage you to sign up for my weekly capitol reports so we can inform you of our work each week. Please email Theckla Spainhower at Theckla.Spainhower@senate.mo.gov to be added to our mailing list.
Thank you again for your support. I look forward to serving you.
Robert F. (Bob) Onder, Jr.