Missouri Chamber supports effort to establish Prescription Drug Monitoring Act

In an effort to rein in drug abuse throughout the state, House Bill 1133 was third read and passed by the House this week.  The bill is sponsored by Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, and supported by the Missouri Chamber.

The act would establish the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act and would change the laws regarding the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances.  The act would require the Department of Health and Senior Services to establish and maintain a program to monitor the prescribing and dispensing of all Schedule II through Schedule IV controlled substances by all licensed professionals who prescribe or dispense these substances in Missouri.  The person dispensing the drugs would then be required to electronically submit to the department information for each prescription. The bill would also require the department to establish a statewide pilot project for reporting fraudulently obtained prescription controlled substances.

“Missouri is the only state that does not have this program in place,” Jay Atkins, general counsel for the Missouri Chamber, said. “Forty nine other states have enacted this legislation. If Missouri had a central prescription drug monitoring program, it would block criminals from other states coming to Missouri to fill multiple prescriptions. This is common-sense legislation.”

The act would also require all submitted prescription information to be kept confidential with specified exceptions.  The department would then review the information and, if there is reasonable cause to believe a violation of law or breach of professional standards may have occurred, they would then notify law enforcement.

The bill would also require the department to maintain a registry of people who might reasonably be considered to have violated any prescription drug laws, and they would stay on the registry for a minimum of three years. Any person who violates provisions of the act could receive a $1,000 fine for each violation.

Several business organizations, including the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry are members of the Missouri Prescription Drug Monitoring Program NOW Coalition, which is a strong proponent of this legislation.

For more information about this legislation, please contact Jay Atkins at jatkins@mochamber.com or by phone at 573-634-3511.



House committee hears legislation that would change prevailing wage laws

The Missouri House Workforce Development and Workplace Safety Committee took on legislation this week that would reform prevailing wage laws in Missouri.

House Bill 1306, sponsored by Rep. Warren Love, R- Osceola, would change the laws regarding the prevailing hourly rate of wages, and would revise the definition of construction as it relates to prevailing wages on public works projects by removing improvements, alterations, or major repairs and specifies that it does not include maintenance work. Currently the law includes construction, reconstruction, improvement, enlargement, alteration, painting and decorating or major repair.

The Missouri Chamber has a long-standing position against prevailing wage mandates.

“Prevailing wage is a product of a bygone era.  The policy mandates an arbitrary level of wage-setting on public projects,” Jay Atkins, general counsel for the Missouri Chamber, said.  “That mandate is costing taxpayers far greater costs for public projects. In some areas of the state, it could nearly double the wage level on taxpayer-funded projects compared to wages for other local construction projects.”

For more information about prevailing wage issues, please contact Jay Atkins, general counsel and director of governmental affairs for the Missouri Chamber, at jatkins@mochamber.com or by phone at 573-634-3511.

Missouri Chamber testifies in support of right-to-work

Before a packed hearing room, Missouri Chamber Director of Legislative Affairs, Jay Atkins, testified in support of House Bill 1099, legislation to give employees the right to choose whether or not they want to be part of a labor union. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Eric Burlison, specifies that no person can be required to pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of work.

A state’s labor policy is one of the top factors site selectors look to when deciding where to move or expand businesses. The more favorable a state looks to site selectors, the more jobs that state will have to offer its workers. That is the reason the Missouri Chamber strongly backs this legislation.

“It’s a matter of competition,” said Akins. “Do we want to give Missouri one of the most compelling tools to attract new jobs to our state, or are we going to allow other states to use our complacency against us? Do we want to secure the jobs that companies want to bring to our state, or do we want to let jobs go to states that are willing to make the effort to provide union choice?”

In Missouri, labor groups can negotiate on behalf of all workers — even those who are not in unions. Employees who are not union members don’t have to pay dues, but they must pay fees to cover the cost of representation — essentially tying them to the groups, even if they want no affiliation.

Without this legislation, Missouri could soon be in the minority of states that compel union fees as a condition of work in union organizations. Twenty-four states currently have right-to-work laws. In 2013, right-to-work legislation was introduced in 21 states during the 2013 legislative session, as well as in the District of Columbia and the U.S. Congress. Of the states surrounding Missouri, all but Illinois and Kentucky are right-to-work states.

Often, these right-to-work states are seeing lower unemployment levels than those with tougher labor climates. Economic development professionals say that many of the companies looking to expand in other states won’t even consider Missouri because it is not a right-to-work state.

Union membership in Missouri has been on a slow but steady decline over the past two decades, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 1989, when the bureau first began collecting the data, union membership in Missouri was 15.5 percent. The number has since dropped to about 8.9 percent.