Sen. Rick Brattin’s Capitol Report for the Week of Jan. 17

Work Is the Solution

For the last year and really, since COVID started, the labor market has changed. Forced-shutdowns and manufactured fear caused a lot of businesses to close their doors and either send their workers home or lay them off. These businesses undoubtedly hoped the shutdowns would be temporary and eventually things would return to normal. For a big portion of the country, this didn’t happen. Big-city governments and leftist states kept businesses shut down and their workers at home. If that wasn’t enough, the federal government made the problem worse by throwing cash and government handouts to folks, encouraging them to stay home and collect welfare checks instead of working.

All of this combined to create the problems we are seeing today. You can’t drive anywhere in Missouri without seeing a “Help Wanted” sign or long lines because those businesses don’t have enough workers to meet demand. Now, restaurants and retail businesses are cutting operating hours because they can’t find workers while some in the federal government are talking about paying people a $1,000 a month to stay home and do nothing. Our country wasn’t built by people sitting around collecting welfare. This country was built on hard work and the entrepreneurial spirit – people taking risks to make their country and community better. These misguided liberals, instead, are trapping Americans in a vicious cycle of government dependency. Instead of discouraging hard work and initiative, government should be pushing people back into the workforce and making it easier for businesses to do what they do best – growing our economy and creating jobs for hardworking Missourians.

One obvious way government makes the problem worse is by not connecting those on unemployment with employers that need workers. There’s no reason so many Missourians are on unemployment when there are unfilled jobs all over our state. Unemployment is a temporary hand up for those transitioning from one job to the next. It’s not intended to be permanent replacement income or a program people come to every year when their seasonal jobs go on hiatus. This is especially true when the state unemployment rate sits at 3.5% – which is lower than before COVID and lower than the national average. If someone is not working in this economy, it’s because they don’t want to work.

This situation led me to file Senate Bill 777, the Employment Security and Job Referrals Act of 2022. This bill would require the Division of Employment Security, which administers unemployment in Missouri, to connect businesses and employers that have open positions with people filing for unemployment. If the individual on unemployment refuses to take a job offer, he or she would no longer receive unemployment benefits. Here’s an example of how it might work: The Division of Employment Security would pick out five jobs that are very similar to the one the worker previously had. Employment Security would send those referrals to the worker and require him or her to make a legitimate attempt to get one of those jobs. If the worker refuses or ignores the referral, they forfeit their unemployment benefits.

This is a commonsense idea. There are jobs available and there are people out there who need jobs. Why would we pay them to do nothing when they could be working? This isn’t just about dollars and cents, either. It’s about encouraging work ethic and building a workforce that can meet any challenge, both here in our country and globally. Our state and our country are competing to turn out the best products and best services. Americans are known for their hard work and for their ingenuity, and we can’t afford to fall behind or lose what has made this country great. The bottom line is that employment and the self-respect that comes with it is one our greatest assets and it is the best tool we have to grow our economy and overcome poverty. Our laws and programs should reflect that and that’s what SB 777 will do.

If you have any ideas, questions and concern, please feel free to contact me at the State Capitol: (573) 751-2108, or by writing to Sen. Rick Brattin, Missouri State Capitol, Room 331, Jefferson City, MO 65101.

God bless and thank you for the opportunity to work for you in the Missouri Senate.