Senator Ron Richard’s Legislative Column for the Week of Feb. 29

Richard Column

Senate Votes to Put Missouri’s Union Employees in Control of Their Own Paychecks

Legislative News

This week the Missouri Senate passed a “paycheck protection” measure to put union employees in control of their own paychecks. House Bill 1891 prohibits any public employee from being required to pay dues or other fees to a labor organization.

Currently, Missouri uses an outdated system that requires a public employee to “opt out” of membership. Failure to opt out means they are automatically forced to allow their dues to be paid for political gain. Under HB 1891, instead of opting out, union employees will be able to opt in. The measure also prohibits public labor organizations from using dues to pay for political campaign contributions or expenditures without written authorization. The bill does exempt firefighters and police union members.

Employees have a right and the power to choose what to do with their hard-earned paychecks. House Bill 1891 is about fairness and compassion for all public union employees, so they can provide for their families while adding value to their meaningful work. The measure was approved by a veto-proof majority late Tuesday evening. It will now move to the House for final consideration.

We also passed legislation pertaining to Missouri’s foundation formula, which is currently underfunded by more than $500 million. Created in 2005, the original formula contained a 5 percent cap on operating expenses to limit the growth rate of the State Adequacy Target (SAT). The SAT is one of the factors used to determine how much funding each school district in the state receives for an academic year.

When Missourians voted to repeal the gaming loss limit in 2008, it was expected that millions of dollars in dedicated K-12 education funding would roll in as a result. That is why, in 2009, state lawmakers voted to remove the 5 percent cap. Unfortunately, the gaming revenue never materialized; without the cap, the SAT was allowed to grow at such a rate that it is now all but impossible to fully fund the formula in its current state.

Senate Bill 586 simply reinstates the 5 percent cap on operating expenses, hopefully allowing the Legislature to fully fund the formula within just a few short years. The measure also clarifies that charter schools are eligible to receive early childhood education funding in the same manner as traditional public schools.

I am also pleased to say the Senate has perfected Senate Bill 800, establishing the “Meet in Missouri Act” to provide grants to attract major conventions to the Show-Me State. If signed into law, the act will allow eligible local convention commissions to submit major convention plans to the Department of Economic Development. All plans must meet the following conditions to be eligible: the convention event must occur within five years from the application; the commission must be competing for the event against non-Missouri cities; and the economic benefit to the state must exceed the grant amount.

With SB 800, our communities will be better positioned to directly compete with other states for the opportunity to bring large national conventions to Missouri. From entertainment and lodging to dining out, convention delegates and organizers generate a significant amount of revenue for the communities who host them. In fact, we know that every dollar spent on tourism creates a $58 dollar return on investment for Missouri’s economy.

Senate Bill 800 is a great piece of legislation that has the potential to annually draw in thousands upon thousands of visitors — giving Missourians and Missouri businesses the chance to demonstrate their incredible hospitality while also showing off our beautiful state.

Pictured above, from left to right, U.S. District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh Jr., students participating in the National History Day education program and Sen. Ron Richard at the Capitol on March 1.

On Tuesday, the Senate recognized several students who are currently participating in the state Historical Society’s premier educational program, National History Day in Missouri. This innovative program lets students in grades six through 12 explore the past in a creative, hands-on way. They become experts on a historical subject of their choosing while conducting extensive research to produce a documentary, exhibit, paper, performance or website.

Statewide, more than 3,000 students participate each year. Nearly 600 compete in the state contest at the University of Missouri in Columbia, and top finishers advance to represent the Show-Me State in the Kenneth E. Behring National Contest in the D.C. area. In my district, I am proud to say Hannah Crouch, Autumn Achey and Destiny George, all of Joplin, participated in this year’s contest. United States District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh Jr. was on hand to help recognize these outstanding students.

Contact Me­

I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2173. You may write to me at Senator Ron Richard, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, 201 W. Capitol Ave., Rm. 326, Jefferson City, MO 65101; e-mail me at or visit me on the Web at

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