February has proven to be a very busy time at the state capitol, as Missouri’s new governor, Eric Greitens continues to organize his administration by making additional appointments to his cabinet.
Recent appointments by Governor Greitens included new directors for both the Department of Insurance and the Department of Financial Institutions and Professional Registrations. The Department of Revenue and Missouri’s Health and Senior Services also have new appointees.
In addition, the Governor appointed three new members to the University of Missouri Board of Curators. All appointees are subject to confirmation by the Missouri Senate.
The General Assembly passed legislation and sent it to the Governor to make Missouri a Right to Work state, and on Monday, February 6, Governor Greitens signed this bill into law. While Right to Work is not the “silver bullet” to completely address our state’s struggling economy, it will help to attract new companies and industry who seek to locate in a Right to Work state.
Today there is fierce competition amongst states to attract industry in order to help create jobs and economic opportunities within their borders. Right to Work now puts Missouri in a better bargaining position.
The House continues to work on its number one priority — the state budget. Other legislation approved by the Missouri House included House Bill 288, a bill dealing with unemployment reform.
HB 288 is identical to legislation that was put into law in 2015, but after being approved by the House and Senate, the bill was vetoed by then Governor Jay Nixon. The House took immediate action to override the Governor’s veto. However, the Senate — which was at that time in a standstill in the final days of session, due to a filibuster — did not complete the override motion until the annual Veto Session in September.
Because of the timing of the veto override motions, the Missouri Supreme Court later struck down the law. The legislation approved this session by the House is meant to put the law back into effect.
HB 288 changes the law regarding the length of time that unemployment compensation can be received — moving it from 20 weeks to 13 weeks — if unemployment drops below 6 percent statewide. It also requires increasing the unemployment trust fund minimum balance from $750 million to $870 million.
The increased minimum balance keeps the state from borrowing from the federal government during times of high unemployment. When we borrow from the federal government, businesses lose the unemployment tax credit, which, in turn, raises their taxes. The benefits of this bill keep taxes lower for businesses and reduces Missouri’s dependence on the federal government.