Legislative column

Another busy week has come to a close in Jefferson City, and just like many other weeks, quite a bit was accomplished in a short time. The senate was able to pass two bills that will assist in improving a business climate in Missouri. Senate Bill 237 and Senate Bill 45 both advanced in the Senate, and will help reform Missouri’s legal climate to attract more businesses and investment to our state.

Senate Bill 237 modifies definitions of “employee” and “physician employee” in actions against health care providers for personal injury or death. This bill returns the law to the intention of the 2005 tort reform that the Missouri Supreme Court broadened. Senate Bill 237 fixes the definition of “employee” and restores the language to what was intended by the General Assembly in 2005. The previous definition caused expanded and unnecessary liability increases to premiums. Increased premiums drive up the cost of health care for both patients and businesses. If it becomes law, SB 237 will limit malpractice liability to the responsible party and keep health care costs down for Missourians.

Senate Bill 45, modifies laws regarding arbitration agreements between employers and at-will employees. Mutual agreements, or arbitration agreements, between an employer and employee are a quick and cost-effective way to resolve employment issues. Senate Bill 45 reforms the arbitration process and will protect employers’ rights in arbitration agreements. The measure will ensure the arbitrator is mutually agreed to by both parties, and will allow businesses to better manage their legal risk. Arbitration is a lower-cost option than the court system process.

I would also like to use this opportunity to reassure the constituents of the 33rd Senate District about the current budget negotiations. The governor’s proposed budget contains some cuts for services used by senior citizens and the disabled. The proposed budget would change the criteria for nursing homes and in-home care and has the potential to leave thousands of Missourians without care. Receiving services at home ensures that seniors stay connected with their community and maintain relationships with friends, neighbors and church or social groups.

I want to assure you that I will do my homework and fully vet the proposed budget from the governor, and I will do everything possible within my power to continue to protect our senior citizens in the 33rd District and across the state of Missouri. I understand the seriousness of my position on the Senate Appropriations Committee and do not take lightly the decisions we are tasked to make.

Mike Cunningham is a Republican member of the Missouri State Senate, representing District 33. Contact him at 573-751-1882 or www.senate.mo.gov/cunningham

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