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Missouri’s 2018 Legislative Session Ends With Changes in Governance and Employment Law

Author: Julie A. Gladstone (St Louis)

Published Date: June 8, 2018

In the final days of Missouri’s 2018 legislative session, lawmakers passed dozens of bills, including those related to changes to prevailing wage payments and to the merit system for state workers. As of May 30, 2018, those bills and others had been forwarded to the desk of former Missouri governor Eric Greitens.

The path to enactment for the pending employment bills was thought to be more encumbered than expected following Greitens’s May 29, 2018, resignation announcement. Making his final hours count, Greitens signed two of three pending employment bills into law on Friday, June 1: Senate Bill (S.B.) 1007, which modifies the merit system for state employees, and House Bill (H.B.) 1413, which makes several changes to Missouri public sector labor law.

Greitens, who signed Missouri’s right-to-work bill into law in 2017, had a reputation for supporting employer-friendly legislation. His signature was expected on each of the pending employment bills. However, the fate of the last employment bill standing, H.B. 1729, is now in the hands of his gubernatorial successor, Michael L. Parson, who previously served as Missouri’s lieutenant governor. Governor Parson will serve the remainder of Greitens’s unexpired term, which ends in January 2021.

Parson is widely considered to be a reliable pro-business conservative. While Parson’s track record on labor issues is not as consistently conservative as Greitens’s was, the two appear to be politically aligned on most issues. To date, Parsons has only vocally broken from one Greitens-supported policy issue, voting against a plan to withhold Missouri’s match for the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. Even so, Parson is expected to sign H.B. 1729.

S.B. 1007 – Changes to Missouri’s Merit System

S.B. 1007, which will go into effect on August 28, 2018, reforms Missouri’s civil service system by effectively removing most state workers from Missouri’s merit system law. The result is that these workers will be classified as at-will employees and will no longer have certain protections in hiring, promotions, and firing. Additionally, this bill includes an amendment that restores whistleblower protections for state employees.

H.B. 1413 – Changes to Missouri’s Public Sector Labor Law

H.B. 1413, which will go into effect on August 28, 2018, is a comprehensive rewrite of Missouri public sector labor law, concentrating primarily on Chapter 105 of the Missouri code. Most notably, it will require public-sector unions to hold recertification elections every three years, necessitating a vote of more than 50 percent of the bargaining unit’s members to meet the recertification requirement. Another noteworthy feature of H.B. 1413 is its “paycheck protection” provision, which will require unions to receive annual authorization from members prior to deducting any dues or fees from their paychecks. For a more in depth look at H.B. 1413, reference our three-part series.

H.B. 1729 – Carve-Outs From Missouri’s Prevailing Wage Law

This bill provides carve-outs from Missouri’s prevailing wage law. It would require county contractors to provide information to the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations on wages paid in the previous year for certain job categories. In circumstances where information for at least 1,000 hours of work is not available for a particular job category in that county, the prevailing wage law would not apply. A new “public works contracting minimum wage” would cover those workers not covered by the prevailing wage system. This “public works contracting minimum wage” is defined as 120 percent of the county’s average hourly wage. Other exemptions from the prevailing wage would include any public works project with a projected cost of $75,000 or less.

Julie A. Gladstone  (St Louis)

Julie A. Gladstone
Ms. Gladstone received her J.D., with honors, from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. Her educational background also includes a B.A. in Political Science and French from Westminster College. While in law school, Ms. Gladstone served as a student attorney with the Entrepreneurship & Intellectual Property Clinic, interned with the legal department at the St. Louis Zoo, and served as staff editor of the Global Studies Law Review. During law school, Ms. Gladstone also gained...