In three short weeks, the Missouri legislature will gavel into session. Over 400 bills have already been pre-introduced and will be awaiting their fate when the General Assembly convenes the first week of January. So far, several bills of interest to small business owners have been introduced.
Once again, tort reform will be an important part of the NFIB agenda. In cooperation with the Missouri Civil Justice Reform Coalition, NFIB will work to pass two important pieces of civil justice reform. In Missouri, an individual has five years to file a civil suit. Sen. Dan Hegeman (12th District) has refiled his bill to bring it down to two years. This will certainly bring Missouri more in line with other states. The other bill, offered by Sen. Jeanie Riddle (10th District), would set a 15-year liability statute of limitation on all goods sold or manufactured in the state. This bill would provide peace of mind for thousands of small retail businesses as well as the many manufacturers we have in the state.
There have been no less than a dozen bills introduced all dealing with COVID-19 immunization liability. These bills take several approaches, but the most common would make it a crime for an employer to require employees to get immunized as a condition of employment. There are also several that address the response of local health departments to the pandemic. It will be interesting to see which version, if any, makes it to the finish line.
Both the House and Senate have introduced bills that would tie the number of weeks one can be on unemployment to the unemployment rate. For instance, if the unemployment rate is low like it is now in Missouri, the number of weeks someone could draw unemployment would be less. The theory is if unemployment is low, there should be more open positions available on the market. With over half of our NFIB members telling us they have positions they can not fill, these bills are a good idea and we will be supporting them again this year.
There will be an attempt to undo the gas tax that was passed last year. Although the chances of that happening are slim. There will also be the usual number of economic development bills and legislation to lower taxes. A large majority of this session will be spent dealing with re-districting, education, the budget, and abortion.
Please watch your email for member alerts throughout the session.