Standing up for Missouri’s Businesses
Missouri is home to numerous businesses and manufacturing companies that create products used throughout the world. These businesses, big and small, play a vital role in our state’s economy. Unfortunately, many of these businesses have been forced to spend important resources dealing with unnecessary lawsuits. In order to stand up for our state’s business community, I have sponsored Senate Bill 555. This legislation gives individuals injured by a defective or unsafe product a 15-year window to file a lawsuit seeking damages against the company responsible for the product. The 15-year time period will begin once the product enters the stream of commerce. If a manufacturer, lessor or seller states in a warranty or advertisement that the product has an expected shelf-life of more than 15 years, this claim —plus an additional two years — will be the new term in which a cause of action for product liability can take place.
It is not reasonable to expect products in our everyday life to last forever. As a result, we must not place undue expectations on our state’s manufacturers and small businesses. Many of the states surrounding Missouri have similar protections, most of which limit claims to 10 years or less. I believe a reasonable statute of repose is something that must be added to our laws if we expect Missouri to attract manufacturing companies to our state. To be clear, this legislation provides no protections to companies that are negligent or purposely hide defective products. It also doesn’t apply to actions against a manufacturer where the harm occurs during a product’s useful safe life.
On Tuesday, Feb. 4, I was proud to present this legislation to the Missouri Senate Government Reform Committee. I am hopeful the committee will approve this commonsense, tort reform proposal and send it to the full Senate for further consideration.
Establishing Statewide Training Standards for Coroners
Many people do not realize, but Missouri is one of 11 states that doesn’t require its county coroners to be physicians, law enforcement officers or even receive training. Current state law incentivizes training, but doesn’t require coroners to receive any formal education after they take the oath of office. Unfortunately, this results in an inconsistent level of training among our state’s county coroners. To address this situation, I presented Senate Bill 554 to the Missouri Senate Professional Registration Committee for consideration. This legislation establishes the Coroner Standards and Training Commission. This commission will establish statewide training standards for county coroners throughout Missouri. By creating this commission, I believe we can improve training standards and create better, more qualified coroners.
This issue is incredibly important to me, and I believe we owe it to the citizens of our state to hold these county officials to a higher standard. This legislation was part of a larger bill that was approved by the General Assembly in 2019, but it was ultimately vetoed by the governor because of amended language not related to my proposal. While we still have a long road ahead of us, I am confident and optimistic that this is the year we get this legislation across the finish line and signed into law.
Visitors from the 10th Senatorial District
On Wednesday, Jan. 29, I had the pleasure of meeting with a group of wonderful students from Kingdom Christian Academy in Fulton. It was a joy to spend time with these informed, intelligent students. We had a wonderful conversation regarding some of the important policy issues facing our state. I would not be surprised if some day one of these bright students was sitting at my desk, representing our community in the State Capitol.
It is an honor to be your state senator, and my door is always open to your concerns, questions or comments. Please feel free to contact me at (573) 751-2757 or visit my web page at www.senate.mo.gov/riddle.