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03 February 2012

Dugger: Conforming State Law To Federal Civil Rights Legislation, Pet Breeders Appreciation Month

“Let us be sure that those who come after will say of us in our time, that in our time we did everything that could be done. We finished the race; we kept them free; we kept the faith.” —Ronald Reagan

It is hard to believe that the first month of the Second Regular Session of the 96th General Assembly has already come and gone. Since reconvening, much work has been done but much remains left to be completed as we try and create a better Missouri in which to live, work, and raise a family. This week, the Missouri House began work on the Missouri Jobs pillar of the Blueprint for Missouri.

In order to revive Missouri’s stagnant economy we must create a business friendly environment. One way to do so is to pass tort reform which will lighten the burden of costly lawsuits that hamper business owners. Overtime, court rulings have made it easier and easier to bring frivolous lawsuits against employers. House Bill 1219, sponsored by Representative Kevin Elmer, will protect Missouri jobs and Missouri employers by returning Missouri law to a position that is consistent with the federal Civil Rights Law.

HB 1219 amends the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA) to reflect Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which is used to punish employers for discriminating against employees in protected classes such as race, sex, national origin, age, or religion. The proposed legislation will allow court cases to be handled more quickly and efficiently by allowing an employer to get a ruling in a frivolous lawsuit through a summary judgment. This allows spend more time and money on developing their business, rather than spending that valuable time and money in the courtroom. When businesses have the certainty and stability of knowing they will not be driven out of business by unnecessary and unwarranted lawsuits, they become more apt to invest, grow, and expand.

As the Missouri House works to create a business friendly environment we must not neglect the multifaceted reality of our state’s economy. From agriculture to manufacturing and from Main Street to the many farm roads; Missouri’s economy relies on many different sources of revenue. In a meeting this week with constituents I was reminded of the vital role that public transportation, especially the OATS program, plays in fueling the economy of Missouri.

It is easy to see how every dollar invested in public transportation will yield four dollars in return to the local economy. Not only does the OATS program ensure the health and wellbeing of our seniors by providing much needed rides to the doctor, but it also keeps them connected to the community and thus active investors and purchasers in the local economy. The OATS program is of great importance since more than twenty-five percent of Missouri’s population is over the age of sixty five years or older and without a vehicle.

Another important player in Missouri’s economy is agriculture. Next week, the House Committee on Agricultural Policy will hold a public hearing for House Bill 1404, sponsored by Representative Bill Reiboldt. HB 1404 designates December as “Pet Breeders Appreciation Month.” Doing so will serve as a great reminder to the state how vital all segments of the economy, especially agricultural related endeavors, are in order for the state as a whole to succeed.

For more information about the legislation mentioned above or about any others that have been introduced, please visit the House of Representatives website, As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Missouri House of Representatives.

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