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Covering state lawmakers, bills, and policy emerging from Jefferson City.

Proposal that moves right-to-work vote to August advances

A House committee has passed a measure that would change the date voters would decide on whether to make Missouri a right-to-work state.

House Committee Resolution 102 would move the right-to-work referendum from the November general election to the August primary, which traditionally draws fewer voters. It’s sponsored by Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston.

“I want this done,” she said. “I don’t want our jobs that we’re waiting on down in southeast Missouri to wait any longer – I want to give those business owners concrete protection that this is now in the law.”

Those businesses include a company that's considering building a steel mill near New Madrid in the Bootheel region. Rehder said it’s possible the company could pull out of the project if right-to-work is defeated at the ballot box.

“They have other options that they’re looking at,” she said. “They’ve not guaranteed us that we have it yet.”

Rehder co-sponsored theright-to-work law that was signed last year by Gov. Eric Greitens. It would bar the requirement by unions or employers that all workers in a bargaining unit have to pay dues or fees. But opponents were able to get enough petition signatures to also require approval by voters. Voting “yes” on what’s now Proposition A would make Missouri the 28th right-to-work state in the U.S.

Senate Minority Floor Leader Gina Walsh, D-Bellefontaine Neighbors, said in a written statement that moving the vote would be an insult to opponents of right-to-work.

“Voters know that Right-to-Work is wrong for Missouri because it will lower wages, strip workers of their rights, and harm our economy,” she said. That’s why more than 300,000 Missourians signed a referendum petition to put this question on the November ballot – either way, I am confident that the working men and women will defeat Prop A on any ballot.”

Rehder’s proposal still has to pass the full House and Senate before the 2018 regular session ends on May 18.

Follow Marshall on Twitter:@MarshallGReport

Copyright 2018 St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a native of Mississippi and proud alumnus of Ole Miss (welcome to the SEC, Mizzou!). He has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off an old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Liberty Belle, and their cat, Honey.