Category Archives: Judiciary

Kelo Revisited – They Didn’t Even Build It

Eight years ago the Supreme Court ruled that government could take your home for the purpose of increasing tax revenue by giving it to a big business or developer. The case, Kelo v. New London, caused an outcry from right-and-left.

The Weekly Standard goes back to New London this week and discovers that, even though the government stole Suzette Kelo’s house, the big developer who they wanted to give it to never fulfilled their promises. 

2nd Amendment Not Subject to a “Reasonable” Test and HB 436 Doesn’t Make Room for “Reasonableness” Anyway

I read the following Monday morning in the Kansas City Star regarding HB 436:

Nothing in this bill would invalidate reasonable regulations or cooperation between federal and state authorities to enforce those reasonable regulations. But it will criminalize the enforcement of laws that Missouri deems unreasonable and a violation of the Second Amendment.

There’s no doubt that this is the case that’s been made to the General Assembly. I believe most representatives and senators who voted for the bill did so with the idea of sending a message to the federal government that it has grown too large and is intruding into areas it shouldn’t. The devil, however, is always in the details. And, examining the details of the actual bill in question reveals two major flaws with the argument made above.

First, the argument is plainly false. A plain reading of the bill reveals that it declares the vast majority of federal gun law unconstitutional – “reasonable” or not. Second, the argument unwittingly adopts a “reasonableness” test for the Second Amendment advocated by liberals on the Supreme Court in the recent Heller decision which struck Washington D.C.’s ban on handguns – and summarily rejected by the majority opinion written by Justice Scalia.

 1.      HB 436 Clearly Declares the Vast Majority of Federal Gun Laws Unconstitutional – “Reasonable” or Not

Sometimes statutory interpretation is difficult. It’s not always easy to express intent in clear language that’s incapable of misinterpretation. (Or there may be a timing factor which confuses the issue – as explained in here in regards to HB 436). Other times, statutory interpretation is like math. There can be no mistake about the meaning of the words and phrases in these “math-like” statutes.

HB 436is a math-like statute with respect to its declaration that the vast majority of federal gun laws are unconstitutional, regardless of whether they are “reasonable” or not. Here’s what the bill actually says in subsection (3):  

3.(1) All federal acts, laws, orders, rules, and regulations, whether past, present, or future, which infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 23 of the Missouri Constitution shall be invalid in this state, shall not be recognized by this state, shall be specifically rejected by this state, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in this state. 

(2) Such federal acts, laws, orders, rules, and regulations include, but are not limited to: (a) The provisions of the federal Gun Control Act of 1934; (b) The provisions of the federal Gun Control Act of 1968.

Section 3(2)(a) and (b) illustrate just what the General Assembly is declaring to be an infringement on the Second Amendment – and there is no language limiting the scope of the bill to those laws which are not “reasonable.” The first sentence of (2) is the key. It declares the Gun Control Acts of 1934 and 1968 as examples of unconstitutional federal “acts, laws, orders, rules, (or) regulations.”[1]  

If the bill were limited to “unreasonable” laws, it would, first, have to have the word “reasonable” or “unreasonable” somewhere in the actual bill. And second, the first part of (2) would read like this instead, “Such federal acts, laws, orders, rules and regulations may include….”

But the bill is not modified with a may. Instead, it makes a straight-forward declaration that the vast majority of federal gun laws are unenforceable in the state of Missouri.

 2.      There’s No “Reasonableness” Test Under the Second Amendment and There Shouldn’t Be – Unless You Agree with Justice Breyer and the Liberals on the Supreme Court 

The second big problem with the argument above is that it unwittingly adopts the legal test advocated by liberals on the Supreme Court for the Second Amendment. 

In 2008, the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller struck an ordinance which prohibited the possession of firearms in Washington D.C. as unconstitutional. It was the first case since U.S. v. Miller in 1939 that the Court considered the scope of the Second Amendment.  

In Heller, Justice Breyer argued that the complete ban was constitutional because it would pass rational-basis scrutiny – which requires the Court to consider whether a law passes a “reasonableness test” – i.e. was there a rational basis for the legislature to pass this law? Scalia and the other conservatives on the Supreme Court rejected the “reasonableness” test as essentially reading the Second Amendment out of the Bill of Rights. 

As with many Scalia opinions, the really interesting and important stuff is found in a footnote. In footnote 27, Scalia explains:

Justice Breyer correctly notes that this law, like almost all laws, would pass rational-basis scrutiny. But rational-basis scrutiny is a mode of analysis we have used when evaluating laws under constitutional commands that are themselves prohibitions on irrational laws. In those cases, “rational basis” is not just the standard of scrutiny, but the very substance of the constitutional guarantee. Obviously, the same test could not be used to evaluate the extent to which a legislature may regulate a specific, enumerated right, be it the freedom of speech, the guarantee against double jeopardy, the right to counsel, or the right to keep and bear arms….If all that was required to overcome the right to keep and bear arms was a rational basis, the Second Amendment would be redundant with the separate constitutional prohibitions on irrational laws, and would have no effect.

Thus, the “reasonable test” is not one that is applied to the Second Amendment. To hold or argue otherwise is to allow legislatures and judges to ignore it. 

Two Interesting Side Points

  • Unfortunately, the Court failed to set forth a Second Amendment standard in either Heller or in McDonald v. Chicago, a follow-up case in which the Court held that the Second Amendment was incorporated against the states.  Scalia writes:

Justice Breyer chides us for leaving so many applications of the right to keep and bear arms in doubt, and for not providing extensive historical justification for those regulations of the right that we describe as permissible. But since this case represents this Court’s first in-depth examination of the Second Amendment, one should not expect it to clarify the entire field … And there will be time enough to expound upon the historical justifications for the exceptions we have mentioned if and when those exceptions come before us.[2] 

  • Heller was the most important Second Amendment case in the history of the United States. Dick Heller, the plaintiff, was recruited by and the case funded byRobert Levy, an attorney and chairman of the Cato Institute in Washington D.C. Here’s what Levy had to say about HB 436: 

What distinguishes the Missouri gun measure from the marijuana initiatives is its attempt to actually block federal enforcement by setting criminal penalties for federal agents, and prohibiting state officials from cooperating with federal efforts. That crosses the constitutional line, said Robert A. Levy, chairman of the libertarian Cato Institute’s board of directors — a state cannot frustrate the federal government’s attempts to enforce its laws. Mr. Levy, whose organization has taken a leading role in fighting for gun rights, said, “With the exception of a few really radical self-proclaimed constitutional authorities, state nullification of federal law is not on the radar scope.”


[1] The Gun Control Acts of 1934 and 1968 make up the bulk of federal gun laws. To my knowledge, no major provision of either act has ever been declared unconstitutional. What do these laws regulate? Well, part of the gun control act of 1968 prohibits the knowing sale of a firearm to the following persons (1) those convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for over one year; (2) fugitives; (3) drug users and addicts; (4) those adjudicated as a mental defective or who have been committed to a mental institution; (5) illegal immigrants; (7) those who have renounced their U.S. citizenship; (8) those subject to a court order restraining them from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child; and (9) those convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

[2] Earlier, the Court had explained, “[N]othing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. 

Update on Potential Gun Bill Conflicts – Thinking Out Loud

You learn something new everyday. Regarding my earlier post comparing HB 436 and SB 75, §21.250 declares that veto overrides “shall become effective thirty days after approval by constitutional majorities in both houses of the general assembly.”

As a result, not only would a judge have to pretend we have a legislative time machine, they’d also have to ignore the plain language of §21.250 

To not un-do SB 75 then would require a “these words have no meaning” ruling discussed in the earlier post in which a judge declares that words in bills don’t count unless they’re bold, underlined, or bracketed.

As with before, I’m still open to other theories.

….

Interesting reaction. “A court’s going to bend over backward on this one to get to the intent – even with the problems identified,” says one lawyer. My response, “Yes, that very well could be right.”  

Will the Unconstitutional Gun Bill Put Conceal-Carry Back with DOR?

I’ve not shied away from explaining my constitutional objection to the so-called Second Amendment Preservation Act. The bill is plainly unconstitutional and has no chance of being upheld. A federal court of appeals recently struck a similar (but not as constitutionally offensive) statute from Montana. Robert Levy, chairman of the Cato Institute’s board of directors told the New York Times that only “a few really radical self-proclaimed constitutional authorities” think it has a chance. And there’s not a single case in two centuries of constitutional case law in which a federal appellate court has upheld a single state’s authority to (1) declare a federal statute unconstitutional on its own, and (2) criminalize the enforcement of a federal law by federal agents.

Never mind those pesky facts, however, cry the proponents of the bill. Constitutional torpedoes be-damned, full-steam ahead!

But, in looking a little closer at the bill, I think there’s at least one other problem worthy of a long second look: passing HB 436 in veto session may undo SB 75, a bill which was passed at least partly in response to revelations that the Department of Revenue shared sensitive conceal-carry permit data with federal authorities.

Senate Bill 75 transfers responsibility for conceal-carry permits from the Department of Revenue to local sheriffs. Gov. Nixon signed the bill and it took effect on August 28, just as every other signed bill does.

SB 75’s transfer of responsibility for conceal carry can be found in §571.101 and §571.107, among other places. HB 436 also modifies those sections – but in different ways. Rather than track the language of SB 75, HB 436 makes its changes from the version of those statutes as they existed in May of this year.

The Missouri constitution, statues, and case law are clear on how courts interpret changes to statutes in different bills passed at the same time. In most states, the bill which is signed last is the one that governs to the extent it is any different than the previous bill. In Missouri, however, Art. III, Sec. 29 of the state constitution declares that no law shall take effect “until ninety days after the adjournment of session.” Section 1.130 further clarifies that all laws take effect “ninety days after the adjournment of the session at which it is enacted.” In Berdella v. Pender, the Missouri Supreme Court explained that the typical “later in time rule” does not apply because under the Missouri Constitution and §1.130, bills passed in the same legislative session have “the same effective date” so that a later signed bill does not negate the earlier signed bill.

Had Gov. Nixon signed both SB 75 and HB 436, there’s no doubt that the statutes would be capable of reconciliation because they would have taken effect on the same day and changed different parts of the same statutes.

Gov. Nixon, however, did not sign both bills. Senate Bill 75 took effect on August 28 – immediately changing the statute. When the legislature re-convenes for veto session and considers HB 436, we will be voting on language for §571.101 and §571.107 that matches the old statute, not the existing statute.

Because the underlying statute has changed, there’s a real question whether HB 436, which is based from the old statute, will put conceal-carry responsibility back with the Department of Revenue. To my knowledge, it is a question for which there is no precedent in Missouri history and no direct guidance.

In order for the override of HB 436 to not hit the re-set button on conceal-carry permits, it appears a court would have to either:

1. Engage in the legal fiction that the effective date of legislation passed in a veto session is the same as the effective date as a bill passed in regular session – even if that requires a special legislation time-machine as it would in this case.

2. Rule that the language in legislation that does not change the current statute has no legal impact. In other words, a court would have to rule that some words have no meaning because the legislature is really only voting on the boldedunderlined, or [bracketed] words in a bill.

or

3. Engage in an analysis on legislative intent and rule that clearly the intent of the legislature was not to undo SB 75. The problem with this approach is that Missouri courts traditionally shun analysis of legislative intent – and there is not legislative history in Missouri as there is with the federal government. Moreover, from a conservative perspective, courts which take off on legislative intent hunts veer from their proper constitutional role. As explained by Justice Scalia:

The Constitution gives legal effect to the ‘Laws’ Congress enacts, not the objectives its Members aimed to achieve in voting for them… [I]t is utterly impossible to discern what the Members of Congress intended except to the extent that intent is manifested in the only remnant of ‘history’ that bears the unanimous endorsement of the majority in each House: the text of the enrolled bill that became law.” Graham County Soil v. U.S.

In this case, to get at the legislative intent, a court has to take an eraser to actual words in the bill itself.

It seems to me that a reasonable and conservative position a court could take would be to rule that (1) there are no legislative time machines, and (2) words have meaning. Under this interpretation, HB 436 would effectively overturn SB 75 and return responsibility for conceal-carry permitting back to the Department of Revenue.                 

But again, we are in uncharted territory here. A court could certainly rule otherwise. And maybe there’s a case from another state that’s on point or relevant? At the very least, it’s a fascinating legal question.

Nixon Signs Veteran’s Court Legislation

It’s been three years since I sponsored the first veteran’s courts bill in Missouri – and it has finally passed and been signed into law by Gov. Nixon. Missourinet’s Mike Lear reports:

Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) has sponsored similar bills for three sessions.  He says the idea is to put people into programs that can help them.

“With a lot of folks who are running into drug and alcohol problems, and particularly veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, the smart thing to do is to get them the treatment they need to get them out of trouble and get their lives back on track and that’s exactly what this bill aims to do.”

Gov. Nixon Signs Legislation Strengthening Missouri Laws Against Rape

Gov. Nixon signed HB 215 last week, which, among other things, strengthens Missouri’s rape statute for victims who were incapacitated at the time a rapist attacked them. I added this provision of the bill as an amendment consistent with my own bill - HB 280.

The MissouriNet reports:

Colleen Coble is the CEO of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence. She says House Bill 215 makes significant changes to all of Missouri’s laws regarding sex crimes.

“I think in many regards we could see that this puts Missouri in a very prominent position for really changing the nature of our laws on rape, and making a leadership place for our state in the way our laws can address rape and sexual assault.”

The bill will change the definition of rape to include instances when a victim does not give consent, rather than solely on an offender’s use of force of violence. Coble says the importance of that change can’t be overstated.

“Before this bill was signed into law by the Governor, if you were incapacitated, you were medically sedated, you didn’t have the mental capacity to consent to any sexual activity, the law didn’t call that a crime if someone forced you and raped you. That is changed with this law.”

The change comes too late for many victims who had to endure being told that Missouri law didn’t call what had happened to them a crime. Coble says even for those individuals, however, some healing could come out of this law being passed.

“I think it absolutely will and that has been shown by the courage of those who came forward during the legislative process to tell their stories and to tell how they were failed by our laws not reflecting the reality of rape in our state, and its effect on individuals who then aren’t able to proceed through the prosecution and court system.”

The Governor’s signing marks the second consecutive year the General Assembly has passed significant legislation to protect victims of sexual assault. In 2012, we passed legislation protecting victims of rape from having their perpetrators use the child support system as leverage to try to get criminal charges dropped. 

Toughening Mo’s Laws Against Sexual Violence

The Associated Press reports this morning on HBs 215 and 301, both of which include my amendment to close a loophole in Missouri’s rape law which prevents a perpetrator who has sex with a victim who is incapacitated through no act of the perpetrator to avoid a rape charge. The article explains:

Under current law, rape is defined as sex with another person by “forcible compulsion,” which includes using a substance to impair victims without their knowledge or approval. But the measure awaiting the governor’s signature would define rape to also include crimes committed on someone who is “incapacitated, incapable of consent or lacks the capacity to consent.”

“It reframes the crimes to include the experience of the victim of the crime. It is not the crime based on the offender’s actions. It is the crime against the victim without her consent,” said Colleen Coble, a lobbyist for the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

Under current law, victims cannot give “consent” if they have a mental illness or are intoxicated. The measure passed this year would add “drug-induced state or any other reason” to that definition. It also would delete a section of current law that allows the jury to find a person charged with rape not guilty if he or she “reasonably believed” the victim consented.

Coble said under the law’s current language, an offender could only be tried with a misdemeanor if they sexually assaulted a victim sedated in a hospital room. By changing the definition of rape, she said, that example would become a felony, which currently carries a five-year minimum sentence.

Seeking opposition, the article calls on Joel Elmer, who works for the Missouri public defender system. Elmer says, “While there may be public support increasing the punishment for this behavior, I don’t think there is public support on spending more money on incarceration.”

Ummmm, we’re talking about violent sex offenders. While I’ve heard many people make the case (myself included) that we need a “smarter” criminal justice system – one that better encourages and requires treatment for drug and alcohol abusers through DWI, drug, and veteran’s courts to help offenders get their lives back on track when those offenders are capable of rehabilitation, won’t be a danger to others, and likely to lead productive lives if we can get them treatment to turn their lives around,  I’ve never heard anyone – until this morning – make the case, “Hey we spend too much money on corrections, let’s go a little lighter on the sex offenders.” And for good reason – the violent sex offender is the offender least likely to be rehabilitated and most necessary to keep in prison to protect the public. They ought to be locked up for a long time – which is why I sponsored this legislation and added it as an amendment to several bills throughout the session.

I’m looking forward to Gov. Nixon signing both bills into law. 

2013 Session Legislative Recap

The last two weeks of session are hectic every year. This year, however, seemed the most hectic yet in my three years of service. As bills pass across the rotunda from chamber to chamber, sometimes it’s difficult to keep track of everything that the Senate is doing to send bills to the governor’s desk. With a weekend of much-needed yard work behind me, I thought I’d recap the accomplishments from this session in which I played a role. 

  1. MSP Re-Development and Capitol Maintenance –The budget included $38 million in the budget for the construction of a new state office building on the grounds of the old Missouri State Penitentiary and $50 million for long overdue maintenance in the state capitol. The $38 million investment at MSP will kick-start further redevelopment by ensuring a critical mass of people who work there. The $50 million for maintenance will ensure that our state capitol remains the treasure it is today. Just as a homeowner must invest in repairs and upkeep, so too must state government ensure that our buildings do not fall into disrepair. 
  2. Raises for State Employees – The budget included a $500 raise for all state employees. We still rank 50 out of 50 and $500 is not enough to get us out of the basement. But, it’s the second year in a row in which state employees have received a raise after six consecutive years without one. Moving in the right direction is a win.
  3. Education Reform for Struggling School Districts Senate Bill 125, which I handled in the House, will put St. Louis schools on equal footing with other districts in the state by allowing it to terminate teachers found incompetent. It will also allow the State Board of Education to intervene immediately in an unaccredited school district rather than waiting two years as it has to under current law. This will help ensure that students in struggling districts get appropriate help from the State Board as soon as possible. While this bill was not as transformative as we initially attempted, it is the most substantive education bill to pass since the re-write of the foundation formula in 2005.
  4. Medicaid Transformation House Bill 986 and Senate Bill 127 combined do four things relating to Medicaid: (1) extend Ticket-to-Work, a program which helps Missourians with disabilities keep health insurance while employed, (2) place foster children on equal setting with children of traditional families for health insurance, (3) streamline Medicaid eligibility and require annual re-determinations through electronic searches to root out waste, fraud, and abuse, and (4) allow the creation of a Joint Interim Committee on Medicaid Transformation for a group of senators and representatives to study how we might transform Missouri Medicaid into the most market-based public health care system in the entire history of the federal program.
  5. Saving First Steps – After the House and Senate passed a balanced budget using Gov. Nixon’s original recommendation to eliminate the circuit breaker tax credit, Gov. Nixon vetoed the circuit breaker legislation. As a result, First Steps and federally qualified health centers could not receive funding unless the legislature passed a bill to create the Senior Services Protection Fund. In order to save First Steps and FQHCs, House Bill 986 created the Senior Services Protection Fund and was sent to the Gov. Nixon’s desk Friday afternoon.
  6. Strengthening Missouri’s Law on Rape – Missouri’s law on rape has a loophole which prevents a charge of rape against a perpetrator who commits the crime against a victim who has become incapacitated as a result of anything other than the perpetrator’s conduct. The defendants in the infamous Steubenville case from Ohio unsuccessfully used a similar loophole in Ohio law as their defense. I sponsored legislation this year to close this loophole, attached it as an amendment to at least three separate bills, and I’m pleased to report it’s on the governor’s desk as an amendment on House Bill 301, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Engler.  
  7. Tax Credit Reform – The ‘Buck Stops Here Tax Credit Reform Act of 2013,’ aka “Missouri Works,” will consolidate several economic development programs into one which provides DED with much more flexibility to say no. The goal: more Monsantos and less Mamteks. We want DED to be able to weed out bad projects. This legislation was passed via amendment to House Bill 184, sponsored by Rep. Stanley Cox.
  8. Veteran’s Courts – Veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder deserve our help. Senate Bill 118, sponsored by Sen. Will Kraus takes veteran’s courts statewide, will help ensure that veterans with PTSD in legal trouble get the help they need to turn their lives around.  We know that veterans are capable of being productive members of society. Getting them the right kind of medical treatment will put them back on the path to success. SB 118 is very similar to my legislation and to legislation sponsored by Rep. Sheila Solon, who deserves credit for her work on this issue as well.

Worker’s Compensation ‘Fix’ – Floor Speech as Prepared

Mr. Speaker, to speak in favor of the bill.

Mr. Speaker, to be charitable, this is NOT a perfect bill. Far from it. If I were king, this would not be the solution to this problem. But Mr. Speaker, none of us should insist that bills be perfect before they garner our support.  

This is the seventh year that the General Assembly has confronted the problem of the Second Injury Fund and, I believe, the third year it has considered the issue of the unintentional exclusion of occupational disease from traditional work comp.

For the past three years, I have stood on this floor and argued respectfully with the Gentleman from Butler that his solutions were fundamentally flawed. And then I’ve voted no, time, and time, and time, and time, and time again.

Three years ago, Mr. Speaker, as a first-year freshman, the Gentleman from Butler worked out a solution to the Second Injury Fund with the dearly beloved and now departed Senator from Cape - a solution I believe I could have voted for. But their remedy never came to a vote in either body because there were interest groups on both sides who opposed it.

Mr. Speaker, maybe I’m getting old. Maybe I’ve spent too much time listening to the Gentleman from Boone. Maybe it’s that I have three kids now and find myself seeing the world a little differently.

But Mr. Speaker, I’m ready to move forward because as bad as things have been in the past, it appears they will get much worse in the very near future.   

Mr. Speaker, Senate Bill 1 from 2005 set the stage for the disaster we are attempting to clean-up today. It capped the surcharge used to fund the Second Injury Fund. Actuaries at the time told folks the cap wouldn’t be high enough to pay the claims incurred by the Fund. But in haste, the General Assembly capped the surcharge anyway. That cap slowly but
surely has turned the state of Missouri into a deadbeat.

Why a deadbeat? Because that’s what we call people and companies who fail to pay valid court judgments entered against them. We call them bad people. If they’re a parent and they do this with child support, we have laws that allow prosecutors to put them in jail.

Mr. Speaker, because of Senate Bill 1, the state of Missouri is on pace to be a more than $21 million per year deadbeat. And there’s currently a slew of cases filed by claimants who have won valid judgments against the Second Injury Fund which call on the state of Missouri to pay that which it is legally obligated to pay.

As those cases come in, and this Deadbeat Deficit grows – this body will have one of two choices. Either:

1. We can draw funds out of general revenue and enact a stealth  bailout of the businesses that would otherwise be responsible for paying the costs of these cases if the Second Injury Fund were not around. or

2. We can try to ignore the dictates of the constitution and the rule of law and start a constitutional crisis by ignoring these valid judgments against the state.

Mr. Speaker, I don’t believe in bailouts. And I don’t we should be taking actions to start a constitutional crisis.

Mr. Speaker, we are stuck on the Second Injury Fund. We’ve been stuck for seven years. And the Gentleman from Butler has cleared a path out. I don’t think it’s the best path – but it’s a path.

Mr. Speaker, the Gentleman has also crafted a solution to occupational disease. Again, it’s not a solution which I necessarily like. But it’s time to act.

Mr. Speaker, this bill came from the Senate with certain business groups, labor, and trial attorneys holding hands and skipping stones. They’d found the perfect “solution.” It just so happened that the solution involved a bailout imposed on Main Street small businesses to pay for damages caused by employees of large businesses.  

Mr. Speaker, when the bill came over from the Senate, I went to the Gentleman from Butler and told him, I don’t care that the policy is wrong, dead wrong – just move the bill as is. And I’m sure the special interest groups went to him and made the same plea. The Gentleman from Butler has refused to cave and for good reason. It does not comport with
anyone’s sense of justice that every small business in the state should be
forced to pay for occupational disease claims that not a single one of them
caused.

Mr. Speaker, I know that big businesses are going to try to move the Gentleman from Butler off his position. And Mr. Speaker, I am shocked by their stupidity.

First, their stupidity to believe for a second that this body might stand down and pass their costs on to the small businesses that are the base of our economy.

And second, their unbelievably stupid gamble to harm this bill and, instead of having liability with known costs in comp, to face liability in circuit courts around this state in front of juries of ordinary people who hear terrible and tragic stories like the one which happened to the Gentleman from St. Louis City’s family and will award damages in the millions or tens of millions of dollars.  

Mr. Speaker, for these companies, this should be a simple math problem. The Gentleman from Butler has reduced their total potential liability by orders of magnitude. For the victims of occupational disease injuries, the Gentleman from Butler has added certainty back to the system. He has, in short, drafted the grand bargain that created the comp system decades ago on a smaller scale. 

Finally, Mr. Speaker, before I close, I want to speak briefly about something I don’t think anyone in this body has thought about on this bill. And that is the uncommon courage shown by the Gentleman from Butler to attempt to do this right. Nearly every interest group on this bill wants us to enact a bailout for big business on the backs of small businesses.

Now, some of the groups want that because they’re only interested in the solution of compensation. But the others want it because it’s in their nature to do all they can in this building to avoid liability for their actions – whether that means pushing it off on their own victims, pushing it off on taxpayers, or pushing it off on their usual allies in small business.

Mr. Speaker, the Gentleman from Butler has shown uncommon courage and stood up for what’s right. It’s my great hope that every member of this body will take this into consideration over the next few weeks as we vote on several bills on which various interest groups will be clamoring. 

Mr. Speaker, I applaud the courage of the Gentleman from Butler. And as this bill goes to conference, the message should be loud and clear: the House stands strong behind the Gentleman from Butler. 

Mr. Speaker, it’s time we solve this problem. I encourage every member of this body to vote yes on the Gentleman’s bill.

Rep. Elllinger’s Gun Confiscation Legislation Has No Chance and Is Likely Unconstitutional to Boot

I’ve received a great number of phone calls and emails concerning HB 545, sponsored by Rep. Rory Ellinger, which would require law enforcement officials to confiscate lawfully purchased firearms. I am opposed to this legislation and believe it is unconstitutional. Those concerned about the bill should know that it has zero chance of passing through the Missouri House of Representatives.