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Where Amendment 1 Started

Where Amendment #1 Started

Former Mo. State Representative Tom Loehner

Osage County Family Farmer

                 False claims are being made all the way from Monsanto to the Chinese about where Amendment #1, the Farming Rights Amendment, originated.  Well, I can tell you exactly where it started…on the seat of my tractor.

While serving as a state legislator from Osage County in 2009, I was talking with some of my urban colleagues about agriculture.  It was obvious they didn’t understand where their food came from and moreover how it was produced.  This just indicates that most people today, urban and even some rural, are several generations removed from living on a farm.

Later as I was spreading fertilizer on my farm, I was thinking about this and the fact that we as farmers are experiencing more and more unreasonable regulations and limitations from outside interest groups such as HSUS, the Humane Society of the United States.   I thought about some language we could possibly legislate to provide protection for family farmers like me, and over the next couple of evenings, I would jot down some ideas for legislation and stick the paper in my pocket.

The next week in talking to some of my legislative colleagues, we decided to write language that would go in the state constitution.  In an effort to help protect our state’s number one industry, agriculture, it seems reasonable to place an additional 62 words (the length of Amendment #1) among the over 50,000  words of our current state constitution.

The proposed constitutional amendment was debated in the Missouri General Assembly over four legislative sessions and finally passed in 2013.  I can tell you first hand that Amendment #1 did not originate with any foreign interests, big farming outfits or agriculture corporations; it started on a 6080 Allis Chalmers tractor on a beautiful spring evening on a family farm.

Don’t believe the scare tactics of the opponents of Amendment #1 and their HSUS propaganda.  Please vote for Amendment #1 and help protect small family farms like mine.

Why I Voted for Right-to-Work

This week the House considered right to worklegislation, which would ban contracts that require Missourians to join a union as a condition of employment.  I voted for RTW for three reasons: freedom of association, anti-trust balance, and economic growth.

Freedom of Association

As your state representative, my focus is protecting individual rights and empowering you to make your own choices so long as those choices dont intrude on the rights of others. I am naturally suspicious of the big” – whether it’s big government, big business, or big labor. And I generally oppose any regime that compels people to act when theyd rather not. 

Opponents often confuse or mischaracterize the concept of individualism. It is not a rejection of community. No man is an island, and community institutions are vital, not just to an individual’s sense of identity, but also to a free society: churches, labor unions, business groups – heck, even bowling leagues create a layer of society for accomplishing tasks that government cannot and should not try to accomplish.

A flourishing civil society distinguishes free from unfree societies. Consider: there were no business associations or labor unions in the Soviet Union or its satellites. In Poland, the labor movement helped  overthrow communism. But the key is freedom of association, not compelled association. RTW empowers the worker to freely associate for the obvious reason that it ensures no Missourian can be forced to join an organization as a condition of employment.

Anti-Trust

In the late 1800s, Congress passed anti-trust legislation to protect consumers and entrepreneurs by making unreasonable restraints on trade illegal. The theory behind anti-trust is that big organizations shouldnt be able to conspire to eliminate competition in the marketplace.

At the same time, the American labor movement was in its infancy, and workers lacked basic rights, including the right to freely associate.

In 1908, the United States Supreme Court held in Loewe v. Lawlor that federal anti-trust laws applied to the actions of labor unions. In a legal environment with no workplace safety standards, no minimum wage, and no child labor laws, anti-trust legislation made labors early difficulties even worse. In 1914, Congress acted accordingly and specifically exempted labor union activities from anti-trust laws.

By World War II, the pendulum had swung in the opposite direction. Despite the greatest battle for freedom in world history, which required huge increases in manufacturing, according to labor historian Jeremy Brecher, During the 44 months between Pearl Harbor and V-J Day, there were 14,471 strikes involving 6,774,000 strikers: more than during any period of comparable length in United States history.Strikes increased dramatically with war demobilization. They doubled in the first month after V-J Day, and then doubled again the next month.

In 1947, Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act over the veto of President Truman to outlaw certain labor practices, empower the executive branch to stop strikes through injunctions, and allow states to pass RTW laws, outlawing closed-shop agreements. Despite his veto, Truman invoked Taft-Hartley 12 times to stop strikes.

Fortunately, the USA of 2014 is much better than that of 1914. Many of the contractual rights unions fought to win from employers are now codified in federal and state law, including but certainly not limited to minimum wages, safe workplace requirements, workerscompensation, child labor prohibitions, anti-discrimination protections, and prevailing wage. Moreover, while it was nearly impossible, if not illegal, to organize in 1914, the right to organize today is clear. Federal law prohibits employer interference with unionization drives.

Since Taft-Hartley passed, 24 states have passed RTW. The first wave of laws happened nearly immediately after passage. In recent years, RTW laws have passed in Michigan, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Idaho. By passing RTW, these states have essentially applied anti-trust principles to protect individual workers in the same way that consumers and entrepreneurs are protected.

Economic Growth

Mark Twain famously said there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.I feel the same way about most of the economic researchon RTW. Union-sponsored studies proveits Hades. Business-sponsored studies proveits Paradise. In these situations, I try to find research that is not tainted by the source of the funding.

Each side has its own irrefutable fact that it loves to cite as proof. Businesses cite the fact that RTW states have grown at significantly higher rates than non-RTW states. Unions counter that non-RTW states have lower average wages than RTW states. Both sides argue that their chosen result is caused by RTW status. However convenient, correlation shouldn’t be confused for causation.

Does RTW lead to higher rates of economic growth?  Very likely yes. Though some studies have come to the opposite conclusion, according to a senior economist at the Boston Fed, a veto-proof majority of serious studies find that the existence of a RTW law exerts a positive, statistically significant impact on economic activity.” 

The most interesting study on the topic was done in 1997 by Thomas Holmes of the Minneapolis Fed. Because of difficulty isolating the RTW variable to compare states with different policies, transportation systems, geographies, climates, histories, and cultures, Holmes examined RTW by comparing manufacturing in every county in the United States next to a border of a state with an opposing RTW policy. From 1947 to 1992, Holmes found that, in counties within 25 miles of a RTW border, manufacturing jobs increased one-third faster in RTW states than in non-RTW states.

Does RTW lead to lower wages? Very likely no. Even though states with RTW laws have indisputably lower wages than non-RTW states, it does not automatically follow that those lower wages are caused by the RTW law. One review of prior studies found that RTW laws have no impact on union wages, nonunion wages, or average wages in either the public or the private sector.William J. Moore, The Determinants and Effects of RTW Laws: A Review of Recent Literature,Journal of Labor Economics, Summer 1998.

Instead of RTW, there may be other factors causing the wage differential. For example, much depends on the starting point. Most RTW states had agricultural economies and were generally poorer than non-RTW states before adopting RTW. These RTW states started the relevant test period with significantly lower wages than the non-RTW states. As explained by Robert Reed, an economist at the University of Oklahoma, the economic past still casts a long shadow on the economic present.”  Reed conducted a study which attempted to account for these historical differences and found that, controlling for a states economic conditions at the time of adoption, average wages in RTW states were 8 percent higher as compared to wages in non-RTW states.

RTWs Likely Impact

In reality, both sides likely overstate their case. RTW is not the most important economic development bill being considered in our state capitol. Tax cuts, education reform, and Medicaid are all more important. But the economic research cited above suggests it will certainly help.

Nor is RTW a death knell for organized labor. Unions will still exist and will continue to work on behalf of its members. The jobs of union leaders will of course become more difficult because they will have to persuade members to join and stay. Without compulsory membership, union leaders will have to adjust to the reality faced by leaders of every other organization in a free society: they will have to convince their members that membership is an actual benefit worthy of their continued investment. 

Good unions will survive. Great ones will thrive. In Missouri, we already have RTW for public sector employees. Yet, these public sector unions still attract robust union rolls full of dues-paying members. These unions dont require compulsion to keep their members. Instead, they rely on promotion and persuasion based on effective leadership and representation.

And the end the individual will have the freedom to choose which organizations they join – a fundamental American value worthy of government protection.

Protecting Missourians’ Privacy

I believe every American has the right to keep the details of their lives private from prying eyes. Big government and big business shouldn’t be able to sell your personal information to the highest bidder without your  consent – and ought to take reasonable steps necessary to safeguard your  information from identity thieves. That’s why I’m proposing five bills to protect different aspects of the personal privacy of Missouri citizens.

Data Brokers – The first bill will protect your rights to keep your purchasing habits private – including your purchases of health care items. It would prohibit any government or business from selling your purchasing history to a third-party data-broker without your written consent.

Personal Health Information - The second bill will protect your personal health information by requiring “navigators” under the Affordable Care Act to be bonded and insured against data identity thieves and prohibiting them from sharing your personal health information without your consent. This is a case of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. The bill I file will be identical to SB 498, first filed by Sen. Kurt Schaefer from Columbia.

Education Records – The third bill would protect the privacy of the educational records of Missouri students. It would prohibit any entity from sharing a student’s detailed educational records without parental consent.

Banning Revenge Porn – The fourth bill would protect the right of Missourians to keep intimate photographs private by prohibiting the publication of private photographs that aren’t suitable for work without the consent of the person in the picture.

Banning Internet Extortion – The fifth bill would protect Missourians from extortionists who place arrest photographs on websites with the goal of extracting payments from people appearing in the photographs – regardless of whether the information published is true or false.

Gov. Nixon’s Post-Session Veto List

Veto reference guide: The following is a complete list of Gov. Nixon’s post-session vetoes, in reverse chronological order from most recent to oldest, complete with links to each bill, veto letter, and respective vote totals on third read in the House and Senate. I’ve done my best to keep my own commentary out and instead to just parrot Gov. Nixon’s stated veto rationale in as short a space as possible. Thus, the short explanations behind the “stated reason” are mere distillations of Nixon’s veto letters and not my own opinions. 

Veto reason: Bill “would exempt a select class of entities from punitive damages in certain instances in some instances and limit such damages in all other instances.” Bill is unconstitutional because it (1) purports to apply retrospectively, and (2) benefits only a “fixed class” of Defendants, thereby violating Art. III, Sec. 40(30) of the Missouri Constitution’s prohibition on special legislation. House 94-63, Senate 24-9.
Veto reason: Bill would “deprive voters of their right to be heard before their property is annexed into a city.” House 144-0, Senate 31-1
Veto reason: “Ill-conceived process” with certain terms undefined, specifically the terms “chief administrative assistant” and “ministerial duties.” House 100-54, Senate 24-9

Veto reason: Designating rock in I-70 median as something other than slave rock. House146-6Senate 29-4. 

Veto reason: “Bad debt” provision disincentivizes utilities from collecting money owed and no compelling need to expand current ISRS. House110-45Senate26-6

Veto reason: unconstitutional because (1) attempts to nullify federal law and mandates arrest of federal officers, and (2) provision prohibiting publication of names of gun owners infringes on First Amendment. House116-38Senate 26-6

Veto reason: would prohibit publication of names of juvenile sex offenders and allow persons to petition judges to have name removed from sex offender list. House150-13Senate28-4.

Veto reason: “Bad public policy to deny individuals who receive poor medical care access to the legal system simply because the person who provided the care was a volunteer.”       House115-41Senate 28-6.

Veto reason: “Riddles with ambiguity that will generate excessive litigation over how and to whom its provisions would apply.” House104-55Senate32-1.

Veto reason: “Proposes a convoluted and cumbersome solution to a process (the submission of fingerprints for foster parents) that can be streamlined in a simpler, more straightforward manner.” House154-0Senate33-0. 

Veto reason: Contains provision on court-approved private probation services by DWI courts that conflicts with language in a bill previously signed by the Governor. House131-18Senate28-3.

Veto reason: Bill would exempt Girls, Inc. of St. Louis from child care requirements. Girl’s Inc. is ‘ an outstanding organization’ but ‘protecting the safety of Missouri’s children should be paramount.’ House143-15, Senate33-0 (consent).

Veto reason: Infringes on employee privacy and would subject employers to ADA lawsuits.     House91-67Senate32-0.

Veto reason: Allows increased foreign ownership of farmland and creates offense of animal trespass. House133-21Senate32-1.

Veto reason: Exempts mining operations within 1,000 feet of school in Cape Girardeau County and allows increased foreign ownership of farmland. House103-50Senate32-0.

Veto reason: “Goes too far when it denies unemployment benefits” to “activities occurring outside the workplace and outside of work hours.” House98-57Senate32-2.

Veto reason: Increases “fees that payday, title, and … installment lenders can charge consumers.” House143-17, Senate34-0.

Veto reason: Changes penalty for minor in casino by reducing the charge but increasing the fine. House133-2Senate30-1.

Veto reason: Ambiguous restrictions on state and local governments would require local gov’t officials to become experts in international law. House118-37Senate24-9.

Veto reason: Under legislation, local governments “would be hampered in their efforts to enforce existing fireworks ordinances around July 4th” and bill “could cause staffing shortages” at veteran’s homes, mental health facilities, and county jails. House114-32Senate28-2.

Veto reason: Increases fees for driver’s licenses “without any improvement in the services.” House97-44, Senate31-2.

Veto reason: “Places unnecessary burdens on public employees for the purpose of weakening labor organizations” and “exempts first responders from its requirements,” thereby violating the Equal Protection Clause. House85-69Senate24-10.

Veto reason: fiscal note, impact on education, prescription drug tax increase, insufficient trigger. House103-51Senate24-9.

Veto reason: “Inject considerable uncertainty into Missouri’s legal system” and “have a chilling effect on foreign adoptions.” House109-41Senate24-9.

Veto reason: Duplicative of HB 133. House154-2Senate34-0.

An Ode to Rick Ankiel – Never Quit

Sports are at their best when they teach us life lessons. I’m not a big baseball fan, but I happened to be at the game when Rick Ankiel’s life imploded. Since then, he’s been down many roads – and has never quit. The P-D’s Bernie Miklasz pens an ode to Ankiel’s long journey

Ankiel had every reason to give up, every reason to crawl away into a private life, removed from the pressure and the scrutiny and the cruelty of a star-crossed career. He had every reason to want to escape the intense media attention — the paint-by-numbers profiles of a fallen star — and the taunting of mean-spirited fans. He had every reason to give in to the turmoil, the crises of confidence, the injuries and the insults.

He’s still here. The game cannot destroy him. He’s still swinging with fervor, and without asking for sympathy. He was born to be a ballplayer, and every day in the big leagues represents another triumph. He lost the ability to pitch. He lost the consistent home-run swing.

Ankiel, however, never lost himself. He’s better than “The Natural.” That was a movie. This is a real human being with fiber and flaws who overcame a pitiless, never-ending cycle of adversity. In this season of 2013, each at-bat is a happy ending.

 

To put it another way, Rick Ankiel is the living embodiment of Teddy Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena.” Ignoring his critics and striving for the sake of striving when almost anyone else would have just quit – and no one would have blamed him.

Education Reform Headed to Gov’s Desk

The Senate truly agreed and finally passed Senate Bill 125 this morning to send the education reform measure to Gov. Nixon’s desk. The final version of the bill included the following measures:

1. Equality for St. Louis – The bill allows St. Louis schools to terminate teachers for “incompetency,” which is already the case in the rest of the state.

2. Early and Flexible Intervention in Struggling School Districts – Colloquially referred to as the “Kansas City bill,” this measure would allow the State Board of Education to intervene immediately in school districts deemed unaccredited, and also give the state board the flexibility to leave the local board in place under terms set by the state board. The bill sets a back-stop date of three years so that if a local district is still unaccredited after three years, the state board must undertake a full intervention. 

3. MSIP-5 Public Engagement - Sen. Maria Chapelle-Nadal added an amendment in the Senate requiring the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to do a more thorough job of eliciting public input on the new scoring guide from MSIP-5, the new school assessment program the department is in the process of implementing. This is a good government measure which will increase public input.

4. MSIP-5 Scores for Students from Lapsed and Broken-Up DistrictsAt the request of Sen. Chappelle-Nadal, I added an amendment in the House which requires DESE to give receiving school districts a three-year waiting period before they have to count the test scores of students moving from broken-up districts into the receiving districts. This amendment makes sense so that the receiving districts are not penalized for taking on new students from struggling schools.

In my opinion, this is the most significant education legislation passed by the General Assembly since the re-write of the foundation formula in 2005. I’m hopeful that Gov. Nixon will sign it quickly.

The Mother of All Omnibus Bills

The House is on hour three of discussion on SB 83, an act relating to “political subdivisions.” The bill had 100 amendments dropped on it – and covered all of the following topics:

  • burn bans
  • luxury boxes
  • gambling 
  • booze
  • tax credits
  • stamps
  • schools
  • stocks
  • annexation
  • the Border War
  • building codes
  • senior citizens
  • databases
  • international advertising
  • taxes
  • hotels
  • paperless documents
  • cars 
  • driver’s licenses
  • abortion
  • data centers
  • golf
  • new homes
  • emergency medical services
  • museums
  • fire
  • speeders
  • angels
  • jobs
  • welfare
  • the Internet
  • dams
  • religious freedom
  • storms
  • elections
  • 911 
  • trucks
  • TIFs
  • logging
  • second-hand clothing, and
  • food taxes

Bob Priddy Receives the Osmund Overby Award for His Book ‘The Art of the Missouri Capitol’

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Bob Priddy, a living legend in the Capitol receives an award for his work documenting the historic art of our Missouri Capitol.

Celebrating 100 Years for the Missouri State Capitol

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Senator Ron Richard speaks on the 100 year anniversary of the groundbreaking of the Missouri State Capitol. The timing is fortuitous as the Missouri Senate will soon consider $50 million in appropriations for much needed and long overdue repairs to the building.

House Approves Amendment to Spur Re-development at the Old Prison in Jefferson City

Today was one of the best days in a long time for Jefferson City in the General Assembly. By a vote of 131 to 26, the Missouri House approved an amendment to a budget bill to invest $50 million for long-delayed upkeep of the Missouri State Capitol and $38 million for construction of a new state office building on the grounds of the old state penitentiary. 

I was pleased to speak in favor and vote for the amendment, and look forward to progress in Jefferson City.