GOP To Reshape State Laws on Workplace, Classrooms & Courtrooms +
Expect Republicans to use their capitol dominance to make Missouri the 27th right-to-work state prohibiting mandatory union fees, unless Kentucky’s recently elected GOP majorities can beat them to it.
The race to expand right-to-work laws is just one of several ways that Republicans are preparing to reshape state laws affecting workplaces, classrooms, courtrooms and more during Y 2017.
As President Elect Donald Trump leads a makeover in Washington DC (Draining the Swamp), Republican Governors and state lawmakers will be pushing an aggressive agenda that limits abortion, lawsuits and unions, cuts business taxes and regulations, and expands gun rights and school choice.
Republicans will hold 33 Governors’ offices, have majorities in 33 legislatures and control both the Governor’s office and legislature in 25 states, their most since Y 1952.
Democrats will control both the Governor’s office and legislature in only 6 states, the rest will have politically divided governments.
It is the best opportunity in some time to accomplish a lot of big changes, not just in 1 or 2 states, but in 15.
Officials in Democratic strongholds such as California and New York pledge to fight against President Donald Trump’s agenda, some Democrats elsewhere are resigned to get “steamrolled” on policies they long have opposed, such as right-to-work laws that undercut the financial strength of unions.
In Missouri, term-limited Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon previously vetoed a right-to-work measure passed by the Republican-led Legislature. But he’s being replaced on 9 January by Republican Governor Elect Eric Greitens, who promised to sign a right-to-work law.
GOP legislative leaders have placed it atop their agenda. And their ranks are strengthened following a campaign season in which businessman David Humphreys poured more than $12-M into Missouri candidates and political committees that backed right-to-work.
Assuming right-to-work becomes law, Missouri AFL-CIO President Mike Louis already is preparing for the next battle. He has filed several versions of a proposed initiative petition that would ask voters in Y 2018 to approve a Constitutional amendment reversing right-to-work by ensuring that unions can negotiate contracts requiring that employees pay fees for their representation.
Republican Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin is ready to sign a statewide right-to-work law in Y 2017, now that Republicans who already hold the Senate also have won control of the House for the 1st time in nearly 100 years. A dozen Kentucky counties already have passed local right-to-work laws.
Right-to-work supporters also are targeting New Hampshire, where Republican Governor Elect Chris Sununu will be paired with a GOP-led Legislature. And collective bargaining restrictions for public employees could be on the agenda in Iowa, where the Republican governor will work with a Legislature that will be under full GOP control when lawmakers reconvene in January.
Gov. Bevin said Kentucky Republicans will pursue “things that have been bottled up for years and need to at least have votes on them,” citing school choice measures and “reform” proposals for pension, tax and litigation laws, among others.
The aftermath of the November elections has particularly raised the hopes of school choice advocates.
They support tax credits for families who opt for private over public schools and vouchers that allow public tax dollars to pay for private-school tuition. They also want to expand public charter and magnet schools to give parents additional choices.
Donald Trump pledged during the campaign to spend $20-B during his 1st year in office to help states expand school choice programs, and he wants states to divert an additional $110 billion of their own education budgets toward the cause. His pick for Secretary of Education is Betsy DeVos, Chairwoman of the school choice advocacy group American Federation for Children.
The federation’s political arm backed 121 state and local candidates this year, winning in 108 of the races. Now it is focusing on at least a dozen states where it believes school choice laws could be enacted or expanded in Y 2017.
Republican leaders also are planning to use their statehouse power to pursue a variety of pro-business proposals, including reduced regulations and taxes. Imposing limits on lawsuits that seek damages for product liability claims, injuries, medical malpractice and workplace discrimination is another priority.
Since Republicans swept into control of many statehouses in the Y 2010 elections, the tort reform movement has touted the passage of 170 bills in 38 states.
“We’re very bullish about our prospects,” said the legislative director for the American Tort Reform Association.
Such issues as lawsuit limits, union powers and school choice do not always split along party lines. But in states where they now control both the legislative and executive branches, Republicans no longer will have an excuse if their agenda stalls.
“You could always blame it on a Democratic Governor for killing it before,” said Republican Missouri State Senator Brian Munzlinger, Now “it’s up to us to get it done.”
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