The vote again fell mostly along party lines, passing 92 to 56, with one lawmaker voting "present." The measure would place occupational disease claims back within the workers’ comp system and would bar employees from suing each other over workplace injuries and illnesses. Democrats, including Kevin McManus of Kansas City, objects to moving claims out of the courts and back to workers' comp.
Governor Jay Nixon (D) vetoed a similar bill last month that originated in the Senate. The House version contains most of the same provisions – it would bar employees from suing each other over workplace injuries and illnesses, and it would restore occupational disease claims within the workers’ comp system. State Rep. Jacob Hummel (D, St. Louis) debated with the bill’s sponsor, Dave Schatz (R, Sullivan).
The bill re-ignited intense debate over women’s reproductive rights. State Rep. Margo McNeil (D, Hazelwood) argued that allowing health professionals to opt out of performing certain procedures could result in a public health threat.
But the likelihood that the House will also override the Governor’s veto is virtually nonexistent, according to Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones (R, Eureka). He says they just don’t have the votes, even within their own party.
“We would have to first convince our caucus," Jones said. "And even if we did, we’re still simply three votes short on a bill that no Democrat, I believe, has supported to this point…that’s a tough vote.”
With less than two months left in this year’s legislative session, House Republicans still haven’t scheduled a wide-ranging public school bill for debate. It would create tax credit scholarships that would pay for students to transfer from unaccredited schools to adjacent better-performing schools, and expand charter schools beyond St. Louis and Kansas City.
Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones admits there are wide differences of opinion on the bill, even among Republicans.
Several people testified in favor of the bill, including Kevin Green, a California man who spent 16 years in prison on charges that he raped his wife and killed their unborn baby. He was eventually exonerated after DNA evidence showed another man had committed the crime. Green says doing hard time in prison is a harsher punishment than being executed.
The Missouri House is debating all 13 bills this afternoon that make up the state’s proposed budget for next year.
Lawmakers are offering up several amendments to the budget – one in particular would have shifted $150,000 from the state’s biodiesel fund to Alzheimer’s patients. It was sponsored by State Rep. Tracy McCreery (I, Olivette).
The bill would not go as far as a proposal made by Mayor Francis Slay: Among the differences, Slay’s plan would have all firefighters put 9 percent of their salaries into the system, and new hires would not get any of that money back upon retirement. The bill in the State House would have new firefighters put in 8 percent, and upon retirement would get back 25 percent of what they paid in. F.I.R.E. Chairman and St. Louis firefighter Abram Pruitt, Junior, traveled to Jefferson City to support the bill.