Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Missouri House Passes That Crappy Discrimination Bill. Will Greitens Veto?

Posted By on Tue, May 9, 2017 at 1:57 PM

Eric, get your gun!
  • Eric, get your gun!

Missouri Senate Bill 43, the crappy-ass bill that would make it easier to discriminate against employees, was approved by the House of Representatives late last night. That means its sponsor, Senator Gary Romine (R-Farmington), is one step closer to beating back future lawsuits against his rent-to-own business, after at least one odious suit that alleges both literal redlining and free-flowing use of the n-word.

So! Good news for Romine, your friendly neighborhood rent-to-own entrepreneur. But what about the rest of us?

In addition to the very real problem of Romine's sponsorship, the bill would basically gut the state's Human Rights Act, saying it's no longer enough to show that race, sex, religion, national origin or disability are a factor in someone facing workplace discrimination — under the new standard, they'd have to be shown to be "the motivating factor" (emphasis added). That's a tough thing to prove, and could make it much easier to get away with blatant discrimination. ("Hey, so what if we called him a racial slur? We didn't fire him because we hated black people; we fired him because he was late.") Any decent lawyer can see where this is going, and it's not that the little guy wins.

Says Rep. Shamed Dogan (R-Ballwin), “The message this will send is we want to make it easier to discriminate in Missouri. No two ways about it.”

But now that the bill has been approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, there's really just one way to stop this thing, and that's Governor Eric Greitens. An active campaign to lobby him for a veto is already underway.

So what will Greitens do?

The governor has until July 14 to sign the bill or veto it. If he does neither, at that point, it becomes law. Even by not taking action, he'd be making a decision.

And it's worth noting that the state's new governor campaigned against politics as usual, saying he'd be firing away at corruption. (Remember? Dude blasted away with an actual rifle "taking aim" at an empty cornfield? Or, as he likes to call it, "politics as usual"?)

Now we've got a bill that, to many in the Missouri House, looks exactly like corruption and politics as usual — a bill whose own sponsor would clearly benefit by it being signed into law.

In the words of Rep. Mark Ellebracht, (D-Liberty), "To have a senator introduce a bill that is so evidently self-serving is offensive, and it tarnishes our honor by participating and allowing him to advance this legislation. I encourage the body to vote no for our own honor sake, and for the oath that we took.”

He's not the only one saying that. Rep. Steve Roberts (D-St. Louis) called Romine's conduct "clearly self-dealing." Rep. Peter Merideth (D-St. Louis) issued a scathing letter to the same effect prior to last night's vote, saying, "[E]ven entertaining or participating on a vote on such legislation would make this entire body complicit in the Senator's unethical act of corruption and a violation of our oath."



So ... politics as usual? Corruption? Discrimination that makes us look like assholes to the rest of the nation? This bill seems to have it all. The question for the next month days is what Governor Greitens intends to do about it.

Think he still has that gun?

Editor's note: We edited this story after publication to clarify how long the governor has to act on the bill. Owing to the complexities of when the session ends and when a bill is sent to him, he has roughly two months, not two weeks, to figure out his next move. We regret any implication to the contrary.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com


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