Missouri lawmakers will start the 2017 legislative session with a new ally for Republicans: Gov.-elect Eric Greitens.
Legislators will meet for the first day of session Wednesday at the Capitol in Jefferson City.
Republicans hold commanding majorities in both the House and Senate. But GOP lawmakers for eight years were checked by outgoing Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.
Nixon was barred by terms limits from seeking re-election. His Republican predecessor takes office Jan. 9.
Greitens shares top priorities with Republican House Speaker Todd Richardson and Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard. All three want to pass a right-to-work law barring mandatory union fees, which the legislative leaders say will be one of the first goals for the session.
"The voters have spoken,” Speaker Richardson said during his address to the House Wednesday. “Our majorities campaigned on it and the Governor's race was fought on it. Missouri should and will soon be a right-to-work state."
Richardson said he will refer bills to committee immediately.
Meanwhile, Democrats said they want to give voters a say on this issue.
“I think Right to Work needs to go to the vote of the people,” said Representative Gail McCann Beatty (D-Kansas City), the House Minority Leader. “This is a huge change for the state of Missouri. I have concerns that it is going to bring wages down and we need to let the people make that decision.”
House Republicans said they also want to pass many reforms this session, including regulatory, tort and ethics reforms — including a ban on lobbyist gifts.
Democrats want to focus on anti-corruption and education.
“We will continue to fight for workers’ rights, and a living wage,” McCann Beatty said. “And we will fight against any litigation that seeks to close the courthouse doors to regular people. Quality public education and job creation should be our priority.”
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