Senator Ron Richard’s Legislative Column for the Week of March 14

Richard Column

Mid-Session Review: Senate Works to Improve Missouri’s Business Climate and Defend Our Citizens’ Rights

Legislative News

Since the start of session, the Missouri Senate has been creating and advancing legislation that will benefit communities in every corner of the Show-Me State for years to come. From protecting our agricultural producers to our public union employees, we have been working hard for the citizens of Missouri. At times that has meant tackling some very tough issues, but that is why the people of Missouri sent us here — to have the difficult conversations and find solutions to the complex issues facing our state.

Pictured above, Sen. Ron Richard with 2016 Missouri Arts Awards recipients, hosted by the Missouri Arts Council on Wednesday, Feb. 10.

One of the very first measures we passed this session was House Concurrent Resolution 58, disapproving the State Tax Commission’s recommended 5 percent property tax increase on Missouri farmers and ranchers. The commission is required to make recommendations for tax adjustments on agricultural property every two years, and their recommendations go into effect if the General Assembly does not intervene.

As legislators, it is our responsibility to protect our state’s No. 1 industry, which was unfortunately hard hit last year by poor farming conditions and mass flooding. Factor that in with low commodity prices and the 5 percent tax increase that took effect in 2015, and we determined that now is not the time to again raise taxes on Missouri farmers and ranchers.

Passing meaningful tort reform legislation was another priority area this session. Both of the following measures will help foster a stronger, more resilient economy and address the state’s anti-business legal environment.

Missouri’s unfair and outdated civil judicial system has forced businesses and job creators out of the state. Senate Bill 591 seeks to align Missouri’s outdated expert witness testimony standard to the federal standard, improving our business climate and safeguarding the reliability of expert testimony. Senate Bill 847 aims to restore fairness to personal injury litigation and reduce the cost of insurance for doctors and businesses. Specifically, it modifies provisions relating to the collateral source rule and provides that parties may introduce evidence of the actual cost, rather than the value, of the medical care rendered.

To be competitive in a global economy, Missouri needs a strong, viable business climate and that includes reforming our labor policy. Delivered to the governor earlier this month, House Bill 1891, known as paycheck protection, prohibits any public employee from being required to pay dues or other fees to a labor organization. The measure ensures that public union employees are in control of their hard-earned money and prevents public labor organizations from using dues to pay for political campaign contributions or expenditures without written authorization.

The religious freedoms granted to us as citizens of this great nation continue to be challenged at every turn. This session, my Senate colleagues and I have been fighting to protect our religious liberties. We have been fighting for fairness and the right for people to freely live out their faith while not infringing on the rights of others. After days of nonstop debate, which included a record 37-hour filibuster, the Senate successfully advanced Senate Joint Resolution 39. The measure is viewpoint neutral and asks Missouri voters to consider a new constitutional amendment protecting religious organizations and certain individuals from being penalized because of their sincere religious beliefs concerning same-sex marriage.

We also continue to see progress on a trio of smart, substantive ethics reform bills. House Bill 1979 imposes a one-session rule for lobbying by former members of the General Assembly, by former statewide elected officials and by former holders of an office that required Senate confirmation. House Bill 1983 specifies that no statewide elected official or member of the General Assembly shall serve as a paid political consultant. Finally, House Bill 2203 changes the laws regarding the investment of campaign funds. House Bill 2203 will help curb corruption of campaign funds.

The Senate will reconvene after Easter Monday. One major task still before us is passing the Fiscal Year 2017 state operating budget. Now that the House has approved its version, the Senate will be able to shift its budget-crafting process into high gear. It is the Legislature’s goal to once again deliver a balanced budget to the governor’s desk early enough to address any line-item vetoes while still in the regular session.

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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