Lawmakers seek to put ‘Right to Work’ on August ballot

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Missouri lawmakers are debating whether to hold the statewide public vote over ‘Right-to-Work’ in August or November.

Its crunch time at the Capitol, as lawmakers have until this Friday to pass a budget. The deadline to pass all other legislation is next Friday, May 18th.

One of the proposals that could pass out of both the House and Senate is a bill to move the public vote over ‘Right to Work’ from the November General Election ballot to the early August Primary ballot. ‘Right to Work’ laws ban union dues as a condition of employment.

When Gov. Eric Greitens took office last year, the legislature rushed to pass it and get it onto his desk.

"When we passed it, I had spoke to some of the folks in economic development and they were excited that finally we were going to be able to approach some businesses that had been overlooking Missouri," said Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan. "So, it was sad to know that once this thing got put back on hold again, here we were stalled."

Schatz is the Senate sponsor of the proposal to move the date of the vote on ‘Prop A.’

Passing it early last year gave labor unions plenty of time to gather signatures for Prop A and force the public vote. This spring, unions have rallied in Jefferson City and there are already millions of dollars flowing to organizations on both sides of the issue.

"When 310,000 voters signed that petition, they signed it knowing it was going to go on the November ballot," said Sen. Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis. "So, I think at some point the people in this building need to decide if they're going to play politics with this issue, or they're going to let those 310,000 people who signed that petition vote on it when they thought they were going to vote on it."

Republicans want the August vote to get it out of the way and give certainty to the state's businesses.

"Obviously we know that voter turnout may not be as broad as it might be in a general election type cycle, so I think that anybody that says they would ignore that fact is just not telling the truth," said state Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan.  "I think we are looking at where do we have the best chance for the General Assembly to have what's been signed into law be upheld."

Democrats call it a politically calculated move to ensure fewer union members and Democratic voters show up to decide the issue.

"I think if you really want to know what Missouri voters say, you have twice as many people that are going to vote in November," said state Sen. Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis. "So why not have the vote in November and let a bigger population of Missourians vote on it."

The deadline to get signatures submitted to the Secretary of State for initiative petitions was last week. It’s likely there are enough signatures to get proposals to legalize medical marijuana and ban lobbyist gifts in front of Missouri voters this fall.