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May 2017 Update - Missouri and Federal Level Updates

Posted By Governmental Affairs Committee, Friday, April 28, 2017

Since our last update in March, there has been some productive activity and progress in our State Capitol.  The 2017 legislative session is headed towards the finish line, with less than two weeks left until adjournment on May 12.   

Missouri News


Expert Witness

On March 28, 2017, Governor Greitens signed into law House Bill 153.  The legislation allows Missouri to join 42 other states and federal courts in applying a stricter standard for expert witness testimony, an important step as the legislature works to improve Missouri’s legal climate.  Called the Daubert standard, it ensures that only evidence deemed relevant, reliable and provided by qualified individuals will be admitted as expert testimony.  Expert witnesses are very influential in shaping the outcome of cases.  Under the Daubert standard, the judge serves a critical role making sure an expert witness meets certain basic criteria.  “Several other common-sense tort reform measures are also well-positioned for passage this legislative session,” said Dan Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. 



By a vote of 100-56, the House passed a measure linking unemployment benefits to the unemployment rate to help ensure the solvency of the unemployment trust fund.    


Workforce Development

Just before spring break, the Senate approved SB 10.  This legislation will make it easier for businesses to access customized job training programs. 


Workers Compensation

Last month the House heard two Senate Bills that are an effort to fix court-induced problems with the Missouri’s workers’ compensation system. 


Under SB 113, Missouri employers could not use workers’ compensation claims as “motivation” to fire or otherwise discriminate against injured employees.  The bill was necessitated by a 2014 Missouri Supreme Court decision.  The court’s ruling in Templemire v. W&M Welding broadened the state’s standard.  It opened the door to additional lawsuits due to the lower “contributing factor” standard established by the court. 

The proposed “motivating” standard has already been passed by the Missouri Senate.  Changing Missouri’s law to look for motivation in these cases will bring the state in line with federal law and help improve Missouri’s legal climate. 

The same committee heard SB 66.  The bill addresses the Missouri Supreme Court’s decision in Greer v. Sysco Foods, allowing workers to re-open their workers’ compensation claims if they decide to seek additional medical treatments (even years after a doctor says they have recovered).  SB 66 addresses this concern by stopping temporary workers’ compensation benefits once an employee reaches maximum medical improvement, the point when a physician determines the employee’s condition is stable and is not expected to improve further. 



Workplace Laws

A law that ensures consistent workplace standards across Missouri was jeopardized by a Missouri Supreme Court ruling on February 28th.  On April 25th, the Missouri Supreme court declined to reconsider its earlier ruling, upholding St. Louis’ proposed $10-an-hour city minimum wage, meaning that wage could go into effect by May 1st and $11-an-hour by 2018.  This law, and many others, are now in question as the Supreme Court reached back to overturn a 1998 law in order to allow St. Louis city to raise its minimum wage.  The ruling can have short-term and long-term effects. 


State Budget

The first week of April, the House approved all 13 budget bills that made up the state’s $27.7 billion budget.  These include increased allocations to some items the Governor’s budget had cut entirely, although they were not fully restored.  The budget will now move to the Senate.  The legislature is constitutionally required to pass a budget by May 5th


Federal News


The AFL-CIO plans to sue the DOL if it “dilutes” the final overtime rule that was to take effect December 1, 2016.  The final rule was put on hold late last November as a result of a court injunction after many employers had scrambled to comply.  Trump Department of Labor nominee, Alexander Acosta (which it is looking like he will probably be confirmed), feels doubling the salary threshold, as the Obama DOL final rule was set to do, could create a “stress on the system” and surpass the legal authority of the DOL.  He said it is, “something that needs to be considered….the impact it has on the economy, on nonprofits, on geographic areas that have lower wages.”  Southwest Missouri is one of the geographic areas where the dramatic increase outlined in the final rule may not make sense. 

As of Thursday, April 27th, Acosta was confirmed by the Senate as the Department of Labor Secretary.


Affordable Care Act

At the February SAHRA meeting this year, our speaker presented a legislative update with a common refrain: “Wait and see.”  In regard to the ACA (Obamacare), we are now on the 30th repeat of this chorus: “Wait and see.”  After a week in which the President promised a vote on the issue of “repeal and replace,” the vote did not take place.  The White House offered a new proposal on April 4th which tweaks the proposed American Health Care Act of 2017.  Will these adjustments be sufficient to appease the various factions of the Republican-led Congress?  “Wait and see.” 

The US News website maintains a link dedicated solely to this issue.  To stay up on the daily twists and turns that is Healthcare in America and how it impacts HR and business, check:


Affirmative Action

On March 28th, President Trump issued an Executive Order that nullified “Executive Order 13673 – Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” or also known as the “Blacklisting” Executive Order.  President Trump’s Executive Order directs the DOL and other executive agencies to consider “promptly” rescinding any orders, rules, regulations, guidance, guidelines or policies implementing or enforcing any provisions contained in Executive Order 13673.   Past President Obama put Executive Order 13673 in place to ensure that companies with federal contracts comply with 14 labor and civil rights laws.  The Fair Pay order was put in place after a 2010 Government Accountability Office investigation showed that companies with rampant violations were being awarded millions in federal contracts.  In an attempt to keep the worst violators from receiving taxpayer dollars, the Fair Pay order included such things as making employers:

·         Disclose alleged labor violations under federal or state law during the past three (3) years as part of the bidding process for federal contracts.

·         Comply with required paycheck transparency such as sharing specific pay information with workers under a federal contract/subcontract each pay period to include number of hours worked, number of overtime hours, rate of pay, gross pay and itemized additions or deductions from gross pay.

·         Eliminate any requirements for mandatory arbitration provisions/agreements in Title VII claims.    


Legislative and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairperson Kelli R. Fleck attended the MO State Council of SHRM Employment Law Conference in Jefferson City on Thursday, April 20th.  She will update us on that next month.  

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