OPMFB
The 2nd Regular Session of the 98th General Assembly begins at noon today. The last couple of days, we have addressed the beginning of this year’s legislative session and some of the issues to be watched as the session unfolds. You can read the previous posts by clicking here.

 

Today we finish with some additional issues we will be watching and asking our members to become engaged in as the session moves along.  As we’ve said before, these are not all inclusive issues and others will rise up during session.

 

Transportation
“Where there is no vision, the people perish” Proverbs 29:18a

 

I’ve been talking about the lack of vision at MODOT for a very long time. By vision I am not referring to the projects that would be completed with more money or are planned in each district.  Missouri’s transportation system is in need of many things but money is not the biggest missing piece in that transportation puzzle.

 

The biggest missing piece in the transportation puzzle is a clear and unambiguous vision. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT), its commission and its director have failed to provide to the citizens of Missouri a clear and concise vision for what the MODOT of the 21st Century should look like and thus our transportation system. There is no vision being presented by MODOT, the commissioners nor the Director.

 

Missourians already have a distrust of MODOT so it’s not news that most Missourians oppose increasing the gas tax right now. MODOT hasn’t given them any reason to do so except for a list of critical bridges etc. which isn’t a vision.

 

What is MODOT going to do differently than it has done in the past?
What does the MODOT and transportation system of the 21st Century look like and why?

 

Until the vision is provided by MODOT they aren’t likely to get support from the citizens for more money. The legislature will propose more money but they should not without a clear and concise vision.

 

Ethics Reform
There are lots of ideas that are offered when discussing ethics reform. Sadly, most of them involve how does our “side” gain the advantage. These types of reforms are usually couched in ways as to sound good on the surface hoping that people don’t scratch at the glitter or they will see the ugliness hidden underneath it.

 

For example, most progressives try to convince people that the biggest reform needed is campaign limits. What they really are trying to do is to set it up so that many voices, particularly limited government ones, are silenced while their favored big government voices, labor unions etc., are allowed to operate as they do today.

 

Campaign limits are a clear limitation on speech. Sadly many Americans don’t realize that and fall prey to the left’s arguments about the rich and corporations controlling the message. Fact is, the only reason that even comes close to being true is because much of the American electorate aren’t doing and won’t do their own homework on candidates. Two terms of Barack Obama show us that is true.

 

Disclosure laws are more important than campaign limits. Missouri has disclosure requirements for any contribution over $5,000 be reported within 48 hours. That’s the only limit that needs to be changed. It should be lowered to $1,000.

 

Senator Bob Onder has several bills that will implement real reform. His bills will require former legislators to wait two years before they can lobby their former colleagues. The bills would eliminate the ability of anyone who raised money to run for office and then decides not to to keep that money and to use it for their own political gain. And finally, the bills would eliminate lobbyists gifts to legislators.

 

All of these are good reforms and would help to restore the perception that many voters have of corruption.

 

Employee Choice
Missouri should enact labor reform that includes paycheck protection, re-certification and transparency requirements for public unions and make Missouri an employee choice/freedom state.

 

For all the talk about control and corruption the labor issues, especially as it affects public unions, is the one that the progressives do not want to talk about.  And it’s the reform most needed.

 

All public employees in Missouri have employee choice/freedom. They can decide whether to join a union or not. And most do not.

 

Unfortunately, Missouri does not offer that same choice to private sector employees. We know that this lack of employee choice/freedom has cost Missouri jobs, stymied population growth and most importantly it has cost every man, woman and child in Missouri $1,867 annually of real per capita income since the 1980’s. It’s the primary reason Missouri lags all surrounding states and the national average in real per capita income growth! (Confronting Missouri’s Growth Deficit)

 

If the Missouri legislature wants to see real growth in jobs and move from being last in real per capita income they will enact employee choice/freedom!

 

It’s interesting to watch the machinations of the public unions against requiring them to have each member sign annually that they indeed want to belong to the union and have their dues deducted from their paychecks. The bill has passed before only to be vetoed by Governor Nixon. Emergency services was exempted in previous bills. They should not be. Why if we didn’t know better, it would be easy to think that the unions want people’s money without the people knowing they have a choice.

 

If the public union is serving their members well they should have no objection to this measure as those well served members will step up and sign up.

 

Unions are usually established (certified) by a vote of the workers.  Once that election has occurred and if the majority voting have voted to establish a union that’s the last time they are ever asked.  There are a couple of bills that would require re-certification, that is a re-vote of workers, ever so often to ensure that those workers still support having a union.  Again, any public union that is serving its members well should have no problem with asking them to re-certify them periodically.

 

Transparency is also a big issue. These bills would require transparency of all books and finances of the public union(s) as well as make all negotiations with a public body open to the public. This would make expenditures fully and clearly transparent to the public union members and let the public know how their public body representatives are in fact representing them in negotiations.

 

All of these are win/win for public unions and taxpayers!

 

Licensure
A disturbing trend across the nation including Missouri is the rise in unnecessary license requirements.   In 1950, approximately 5% of the work-force required licensing. Today, it’s over 30%.

 

Many licensing programs are sold with the idea of consumer protection. Aside from the fact that consumers should do their homework before engaging anyone to provide whatever service they seek, if you really look closely, you will find that safety and consumer protection is not necessary nor is it the real reason for licensing. Almost without exception, most licensing programs are established to squelch competition.

 

Consider how most license requirements affect low- and middle-income professions. On average, they cost more than $200 and require nine months of training and at least one exam, according to the Institute for Justice.

 

And for what? Do these license requirements improve quality or safety? Little to no evidence that they do but government, especially state and local, make it difficult for anyone to move beyond those minimum wage jobs by plying a new trade with these unnecessary and costly licensing requirements.

 

If you want to become a licensed hair-braider in Missouri, no problem. It will only take you a few thousand dollars and 1,500 hours of training and exams. Far more time and money than to become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in Missouri. Seem right to you?

 

We will keep on top of those issues and provide you with the opportunity to weigh-in on these and other issues that arise during session.

 

Your participation in making phone calls, sending emails and other engagements of your legislators cannot be over-stressed especially in an election year. You will hold the key to impacting outcomes. We hope you will use it!

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