In the recently concluded 2013 Legislative Session, lawmakers passed extensive pro-jobs legislation that will make a significant impact on Missouri employers’ bottom lines. This legislation now waits the signature of Gov. Jay Nixon in order to become law. Some of this legislation impacts specific industries. However, there are several broadbased issues pending. We are asking our members to please take time to weigh in on one or all of these broadbased bills and contact Gov. Nixon to let him know how important this legislation is to your business and jobs in this state.
Below is contact information for Gov. Jay Nixon. We have also provided a brief description of each issue. Gov. Jay Nixon Phone – 573-751-3222 Email – http://governor.mo.gov/contact/ Mail – P.O. Box 720, Jefferson City, MO 65102 ________________________________________
Senate Bill 1 – Workers’ Compensation Reforms Senate Bill 1 narrows the claims that are currently run through the Second Injury Fund and sets up a mechanism for returning the SIF to solvency. The legislation also brings all occupational diseases back under the workers’ compensation system. Highlights of Senate Bill 1
. The long-term financial and legal liability this legislation removes from employers’ backs is great. It also helps employees get the benefits they deserve, and that’s also important for employers.
. SB 1 limits the types of claims that can be run through the Second Injury Fund. The bill removes all permanent partial disability from SIF, which is 80 percent of all SIF claims.
. The bill provides a long-term plan to pay off the $1 billion in liability that currently exists within the system. Currently the Second Injury Fund is $32 million in the red, with more than 1,200 people with outstanding claims. However, more than 30,000 claims are pending adjudication, saddling Missouri employers with great financial liability.
. SB 1 also reduces the interest rate from 9 percent to 5 percent that employers are currently paying on outstanding claims. This will save employers millions of dollars annually.
. The bill brings all occupational diseases back under the workers’ compensation system, where these conditions have been handled since Missouri’s workers’ compensation system was established. Nine toxic exposure conditions will be eligible for enhanced remedy of up to $150,000 and guaranteed death benefits. The toxic exposure condition of mesothelioma will be eligible for $500,000 in enhanced remedy. SB 1 provides an employer the option to have coverage for mesothelioma under work comp policy, to pay for remedy out of a pool to be administered by the Department of Labor, or address any mesothelioma cases in circuit court. This option gives employers the choice on how to handle these risks.
. Rather than continue to let occupational diseases be a target for trial attorneys, SB 1 provides protections for both employers and employees. Currently, employees can take common ailments such as carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive motion injuries to the courts, requiring months and thousands of dollars to resolve. ________________________________________
House Bill 611 – Unemployment Insurance Reforms
House Bill 611 would keep Missouri’s unemployment insurance program in compliance with federal mandates and protect federal funding that Missouri employers receive. The legislation also redefines the definition of misconduct, to limit abuses of the system by employees that the system was not intended to cover.
Highlights of House Bill 611:
. House Bill 611 creates two new tools for combating unemployment insurance fraud as directed by the Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act. One provision establishes a monetary penalty for claimants who commit intentional fraud. Another provision penalizes employers who fail to respond to requests by the DOL for information.
. Failure to meet compliance was attached to a heavy price tag: More than $1 billion would be lost to Missouri employers and the state, including $859 million in FUTA tax credits annually, $46 million in federal grants it receives each year to administer the unemployment compensation system, and $13 million in federal funds the Department of Economic Development-Division of Workforce Development receives each year to administer re-employment services.
. Non-compliance would also jeopardize all federal funding for the Tile IV-D program – more than $58 million. It would also risk the loss of federal funding for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program – up to $217 million.
. In addition to protecting federal funding, HB 611 will save Missouri employers, by redefining “misconduct” for which an employee may be disqualified from unemployment benefits. The legislation was passed overwhelmingly by lawmakers after floor debate that included stories about Missouri workplaces where employees were granted benefits after being fired for stealing from employers, taking illegal drugs at work, and even public urination while on the job at a school. ________________________________________
House Bill 128 – Tax Reform (Apportionment Factor)
House Bill 128 authorizes an alternative method for calculating the taxable income of a Missouri corporation, which could provide significant tax savings for many employers and also encourage keeping more jobs in our state.
Highlights of House Bill 128:
. Missouri currently allows corporations to calculate their taxable business income through a three-factor formula based on sales, property and payroll, or through a single-factor formula based only on sales. When using the single-factor formula, 100 percent of the company’s intrastate sales and 50 percent of its interstate sales are combined and then divided by gross sales to determine the apportionment percentage. Unfortunately, this calculation method is a disincentive for businesses to produce goods in Missouri that are primarily sold in other states.
. The Missouri Chamber, which advocated for the measure, calls it the “Made in Missouri Act,” because it would help businesses that manufacture products in Missouri for sales outside the state grow production in Missouri rather than shifting the jobs into other states.
House Bill 650 – Omnibus Environmental Protection Bill
House Bill 650 is legislation that contains numerous provisions relating to the environment and the Department of Natural Resources. The bill contains several strong provisions for Missouri employers.
Highlights of House Bill 650:
. One of the key benefits of House Bill 650 for Missouri employers is a provision that would provide successor liability tort reform, by capping punitive damages that can be assessed against employers from actions of previous business owners.
. House Bill 650 helps to streamline the environmental permitting process for Missouri employers, helping reduce the time and cost this process currently takes, while ensuring that Missouri’s natural resources are protected.
. The legislation extends the clean water fees, keeping the funding stream viable to maintain state control of this water regulation.
House Bill 34 and Senate Bill 29 – Labor Reform Issues
Labor reform issues made unprecedented progress in the 2013 Legislative Session. In the past, we were lucky to see labor legislation even receive a hearing. This session, lawmakers took bold measures to debate and pass strong measures that would benefit Missouri taxpayers and workers.
Highlights of House Bill 34:
. Waiting signature by Gov. Jay Nixon is House Bill 34, legislation that eliminates the prevailing wage mandate on new construction of public projects in much of outstate Missouri (3rd and 4th class counties).
. Prevailing wage law is antiquated policy that has outlived its purpose. This legislation addresses that fact and provides relief to outstate Missouri, where it is needed most.
. We believe it will save thousands of taxpayers’ dollars on public projects. This is money that can instead be spent on education and other public needs, not artificially inflated wages.
Highlights of Senate Bill 29:
. Senate Bill 29, legislation that would protect employees’ paychecks from going to political candidates and campaigns for which they do not support, also awaits signature by Gov. Jay Nixon.
. The bill would require an employee to give approval in writing to an employer or labor organization before a political contribution could be taken out of that employee’s paycheck.
. Using employees’ money for politicians or issues that they do not support goes against the very tenants this country was built upon. Employees have a right to say what is taken out of their paychecks for political campaigns. If you have questions, contact Tracy King, Missouri Chamber vice president of governmental affairs, at email@example.com, or by phone at 573-634-3511.