Mo. House Speaker touts agenda at Sierra Bullets stop

December 13, 2012

Missouri Republican House Speaker Tim Jones brought his “Triple E” legislative agenda to Sedalia on Wednesday with a stop at Sierra Bullets.

Jones, who serves as the representative of the 89th District, which includes the communities of Wildwood and Eureka, met with Sierra Bullets President Pat Daly and local elected officials at the company’s Sedalia plant as part of his ongoing 20-city statewide tour in advance of the new session of the Missouri General Assembly, which begins next month with a historic 110-member Republican supermajority.

Jones detailed a three-pronged legislative framework focused on economic development and job creation, energy policy and education funding and reform, saying that the three key issues are “inextricably linked.”

“By no means is this all we will work on,” Jones said, noting that lawmakers will meet a final this time this year to identify “specific legislation with specific sponsors under each line item.”

On the economic

development front, Jones proposes reinstating medical malpractice protection, reforming tax credits, working to ensure the solvency of the state’s workers compensation fund, and addressing the state’s infrastructure needs.

Jones said the Missouri Supreme Court had erred in July when it struck down a 2005 law pushed by former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt that capped jury awards for pain and suffering at $350,000, pointing out that similar legislation had survived state court tests in Kansas and other surrounding states.

“This puts us at a distinct disadvantage to other states,” Jones said. “We don’t want to interfere with people’s access to the courts, but we want to make sure it is fair to both sides.”

He also suggested the state consider a bond issue to deal with roads, bridges and facilities which would supply between $900 million and $2 billion in new infrastructure dollars.

On energy, Jones said Missouri lawmakers have “stood up for coal,” which supplies some 80 percent of electrical power to Missouri consumers, and plans to push for a “sensible regulatory framework” to maintain access to coal, natural gas and nuclear energy resources.

Education reform, including moving to merit pay and performance-based advancement for teachers, protecting local control of schools and encouraging more parent involvement will help make the state stronger and educate the work force of the future, Jones said.

Following his presentation, Jones told reporters that he does not believe the Republican-dominated Missouri General Assembly has enough votes to pass so-called “right-to-work” legislation similar to controversial moves recently enacted in Michigan that would allow workers to opt out of paying union dues.

Jones said he believes Gov. Jay Nixon would veto any such legislation and isn’t sure the veto-proof majority would overturn the governor’s decision.

“I don’t know if I could keep all the frogs in the wheelbarrow on that one,” Jones said.