JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Missouri Senate Republicans used a rare procedural motion Tuesday to shut down debate and pass a right-to-work measure – a move Democrats say will bring business to a halt as this week’s deadline to pass bills nears.
The Senate voted 21-13 to approve the bill that prohibits workplace contracts in which union fees are collected from nonmembers. Supporters say it would attract more businesses to Missouri and improve the state’s economy.
The motion to force a vote hadn’t been used since 2014, when it was employed to override Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a measure tripling the waiting period for abortions. Prior to that, it had not been used since 2007.
The right-to-work legislation, which opponents say could lead to lower wages and make training more difficult, now goes back to the state House, which passed a similar version earlier this year. A final House vote would send the bill to Nixon, who has indicated he likely would veto it.
Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard, a Joplin Republican, had said the right-to-work issue was a priority of his and would be handled before anything else as Friday’s deadline to approve bills approaches. But Democratic Sen. Scott Sifton of St. Louis County called Republicans’ use of the motion “the nuclear option.”
“This session has already gone badly enough for working Missourians. We can’t allow it to get any worse,” Sifton said.
He and other Democrats, in an attempt to block any other moves by the Republicans, were forcing roll-call votes on multiple motions on Tuesday.