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Business Interest Groups Outline Legislative Priorities

A coalition of business leaders from across the state held a press conference today to announce six legislative priorities. One goal is to stop automatic increases in the minimum wage as the cost of living goes up. KSMU’s Missy Shelton reports.

Major interest groups in the business community have put their weight behind a legislative agenda that they say will improve the state’s economy. Among the groups is the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, and the National Federation of Independent Businesses or NFIB.Brad Jones is the Missouri State Director for NFIB. He says there are six items lawmakers need to address to make the state more business friendly. One of the priorities is putting a stop to the voter-approved measure dealing with the minimum wage. Jones says having the minimum wage increase automatically as the consumer price index rises will hurt small businesses.

Jones says, “As our economy will start to improve, it won’t be long before Missouri has the highest minimum wage of any of the surrounding states. From a job creation standpoint, and certainly from a job attraction standpoint, that’s not going to be good.”

Jones admits that it’s a tough sell to ask lawmakers to overturn the law that ties the minimum wage to increases in the consumer price index. Perhaps an easier sell is asking the Republican-controlled legislature to re-visit the issue of limiting liability lawsuits. Jones says the current law doesn’t go far enough in protecting businesses.

Jones says, “We’ve still got a joint and several liability issue where a company is found to be 51 percent at fault, they have to pay for the entire thing. So, if you’ve got multiple businesses and one of them is only slightly at fault, say 5 percent, that company could be on the hang for the total cost of the settlement.”

The business community is also asking lawmakers to cap the franchise tax that larger corporations must pay. Jones says the cap and the other legislative priorities won’t cost the state any money.Conspicuously missing from the list of priorities is the so-called “right to work” issue, which would prevent workers from being compelled to join a union as a condition of employment. Jones says “right to work” is a priority for NFIB but is not on the list because it was not an issue where there was agreement among the business community.