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Missouri House and Senate continue drive to protect right-to-work law

Missouri Capitol
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri House has given final approval to a proposal that would ask voters later this year to put right-to-work language into the state’s constitution.

Monday night’s action is part of a two-pronged effort by predominantly Republican supporters to protect a right-to-work law they passed last year.

Under right to work, unions and employers are barred from requiring workers to pay dues or fees. Supporters say right to work would give workers more freedom and attract more business to the state. Opponents say such a law drives down wages and is a GOP effort to hurt unions because they primarily support Democrats.

After more than an hour of debate, the House voted 93 to 54 late Monday to approve the ballot proposal and send it to the state Senate, which has only until 6 p.m. Friday to act

The governor’s approval is not needed, but the governor would decide whether the proposed constitutional amendment goes on the August or November ballot.

GOP backers want the ballot measure to go before voters in November, when turnout is higher.

Meanwhile, the House  must act this week on a Republican effort – already approved by the Senate – to move to the August ballot a union-backed referendum that would kill the right-to-work law passed last year.

Politics also are fueling that ballot-placement effort. Republicans believe the August election will see fewer voters. Union supporters prefer November and accuse Republicans of trying to prevent the referendum from helping Democratic candidates also on the November ballot – most notably, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

McCaskill is opposed to a right to work law, while chief Republican rival Josh Hawley, now Missouri’s attorney general, supports it.

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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