JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — In a story May 18 about a right-to-work referendum, The Associated Press reported erroneously that the Senate Concurrent Resolution moving the election date did not require the governor's signature to take effect. While some concurrent resolutions do not require a governor's signature, this one did, and the governor signed it May 24.
A corrected version of the story is below:
Missouri lawmakers reschedule election, change union rules
The Republican-led Missouri Legislature has agreed to move up a public vote on whether to ban mandatory union fees, a change that could impact Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill's re-election bid
By BLAKE NELSON
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Republican-led Missouri Legislature agreed Thursday to move up a public vote on whether to ban mandatory union fees, a change that could impact Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill's re-election bid.
The proposal, approved by the House 96-47, reschedules the vote on right-to-work from the November midterms to Aug. 7. The Senate previously passed the measure, which will take effect with the governor's signature.
Republicans passed a right-to-work bill last year, but it never took effect because unions gathered enough signatures to put the question before voters. Those petitions called for a November vote, but right-to-work supporters wanted the vote in August.
August elections generally have markedly lower voter turnout, although the referendum is expected to drive many union members to the polls. That could impact McCaskill, who will need union support in one of the most hotly contested elections in the nation.
In a nod to that campaign, Republican Rep. Kevin Engler of Farmington said keeping the vote in November would help the Democratic incumbent.
"It's not my job to care for Claire McCaskill," he said.
Peverill Squire, a political science professor at the University of Missouri, said it was true that Democrats might prefer a November vote. But there were so many issues mobilizing Democratic voters that he thought the impact on McCaskill would likely be minimal.
"It could even rebound against the Republicans," he said. "Driving a lot of people who oppose right-to-work to the polls in August will have them primed to show up in November."
Republicans in both the House and Senate largely cast the change as a way to help businesses plan for the future.
"The sooner we can get this behind us, the sooner economic development in Missouri can go forward," Republican Rep. Don Rone of Portageville said.
Democrats both spoke against the move while also downplaying the change's potential impact.
"Missouri's working families mobilized to stop it," said Minority Floor Leader Gail McCann Beatty, referring to the right-to-work law. "They will remain engaged until the end."
When the issue was debated in the Senate, Democrats also said a change would overrule the wishes of the more than 300,000 people who signed the original petition. Republican Sen. Dave Schatz responded that he believed people cared more about holding a vote, and weren't necessarily picturing a specific date.
The referendum will impact state law. A related measure in the Senate would ask voters to enshrine right-to-work in the state constitution, although the Senate Minority Leader has threatened to filibuster the measure if it comes to a vote.
Republicans have wanted to rein in unions for years, and GOP supermajorities in the House and Senate are currently considering several labor-related measures.
On Thursday evening lawmakers passed a bill requiring public unions to get annual permission from workers to withhold dues from paychecks. It would also require that public unions pay to hold recertification elections every three years, elections that would require the support of more than half of all employees. It also mandates that public labor agreements make picketing a fireable offense.
The proposal was narrowly approved by the House 87-62, only five votes over the required threshold. It would not, however, apply to police officers, firefighters, corrections workers and other public emergency personnel. It next heads to the governor.
Just after midnight Friday, the Senate also voted to change the state's prevailing wage law. The proposal, approved 22-9, would adjust how some wages are calculated for public works projects.
School districts, cities and other governmental entities currently must pay more than the state's minimum wage for maintenance and construction work. The specific amount is determined by the type of work being done and a project's location.
Republican senators said the changes could help businesses lower inflated wages, while Democrats responded that those changes would hurt small contractors and workers.
The bill would not impact projects worth less than $75,000.
The measure next heads back to the House, where it is likely to pass.