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Dugger Report 2.25.2016

Paycheck Protection Receives Record Amount of House Approval 

The House gave approval this week to legislation meant to give workers the authority to annually opt-in rather than opt-out of paycheck deductions for union fees. Often referred to as “paycheck protection” legislation, the bill would require annual written consent from a public employee before any amount could be withheld from the earnings of the employee for the payment of any portion of dues, agency shop fees, or other fees paid to a public labor organization.

The legislation also would require public employee unions to obtain annual written consent in order to spend a portion of the fees on political activities. Unions for first responders, such as police and firefighters, would be exempted from the requirements of the bill.

This is a matter of protecting the rights of workers and giving them a say in where their money goes. Unions sometimes support political causes not endorsed by their membership and the bill would give members the authority to prevent their fees from being used for these purposes.

The General Assembly approved similar legislation two years ago but saw the bill vetoed by the governor. This year’s version of the legislation received a historic 110 votes in the House, which is one more than needed to override a potential veto by the governor.

House Approves Legislation to Reign in Department of Natural Resources 

The House approved legislation that would force the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to sell land it had acquired in Oregon County for use as a new state park. Many House members had taken issue with the decision of the executive branch to acquire the Frederick Creek Ranch land with funds that were meant for important remediation efforts such as clean drinking water projects in Missouri’s lead mining district.

During the 2015 interim, the House formed a committee to look at what members said was an inappropriate use of settlement funds that were intended to be utilized to remediate the damage done by the ASARCO mining conglomerate at five sites in southeast Missouri’s lead mining district, which includes St. Francois, Reynolds, Iron and Madison counties. Instead, the trustees of the ASARCO settlement determined it was appropriate to use funds to acquire land several counties away and in a different watershed.

Now, with the legislation approved by the House, members hope to undo the decision made by executive branch to prioritize the purchase of Frederick Creek Ranch over the remediation projects in areas that were actually impacted by ASARCO’s actions. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Thank you for taking the time to read my Capitol Report. Serving you at your state Capitol is a true honor and is always my pleasure. If I can ever be of assistance, please do not hesitate to call or email! If you are around Jefferson City at any time of year, please feel free to visit my Capitol office in Room 300.