If you want a case study in why Missouri is the worst state in the nation in terms of business friendliness, you need look no further than the behavior of Jay Nixon and his veto of discrimination lawsuit reform. This bill is essentially a second attempt to reform Missouri's distorted discrimination lawsuit standards. It attempts to do what a bill passed last year does - bring Missouri law into line with federal standards for discrimination lawsuits. You would think no one with a straight face could argue that the federal discrimination standards are too lax. Indeed, the federal government has been so aggressive that the SC recently ruled 9-0 that the Obama Administration could not use claims of 'discrimination' to interfere with how churches select their pastors and religious leaders.
But the aggressive standard which keeps businesses, churches, and not-for-profit organizations on edge throughout the nation is not aggressive enough for Jay Nixon and his political allies. Or should we say, it is not profitable enough for Nixon's largest contributors (along with labor unions), the trial lawyers. Last year's attempt to bring Missouri's standards of discrimination suits in line with federal law and limit punitive damages was vetoed by Nixon. This year Nixon once again chose a narrow special interest group over business interest and jobs in this state. Is it any wonder Missouri is near or dead last in nearly every meaningful economic category? At least with Jay Nixon we now know what we can count on.
The legislature is to be congratulated for making another attempt to fix this severe impediment to business development in this state, along with their attempt to clarify the parameters of workers' compensation claims. Republicans in the legislature held their ground, and forced Nixon to once again choose narrow special interest over the rest of us, and I hope the Republicans will override his veto. Real broad-based reform in this state, however, will not occur until Jay Nixon is voted out of office in November.
Editor's notes: Randles, of Kansas City, is an ordained Baptist minister, active in the Refreshing Waters Worship Center, who spent 16 years as a corporate defense lawyer. His juris doctor is from Harvard Law School. He operates Randles Consulting, LLC, a firm focused on public policy and investment. In January 2011 he announced his candidacy for the 2012 Republican gubernatorial nomination.