I have always said that I was elected to speak for the people I represent, and this week in the Missouri Senate I continued that tradition. For the second week in a row, minority members of the Senate and spent many hours standing in opposition to a bad piece of legislation currently under consideration in the Senate.
Senate Bill 592 would modify the state’s law relating to the Missouri Human Rights Act and employment discrimination. The bill would roll back decades of achievements in discrimination law, and is aimed at muzzling whistleblowers who risk their jobs to point out the criminal activity at their companies. The measure would also limit corporate culpability in discrimination and whistleblower lawsuits in Missouri.
There are two issues at the heart of this debate - the meaning of “contributing” and “motivating factor” and how they relate to discrimination in Missouri. Right now employment provisions found in the Missouri Human Rights Act make it illegal to discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, ancestry, disability or age. These are the core values that the civil rights movement embodied only a few decades ago, and we are trying to make sure the rights of individuals are not taken away for businesses to increase profits.
You may remember that just last year similar legislation was passed by the General Assembly. However, the governor vetoed the measure and stated in his veto letter that the legislation was “deemed bad public policy and an unacceptable step backward from the protections of the Missouri Human Rights Act.”
I would like to thank my colleagues, constituents and friends who showed their appreciation by contacting my office and sending me texts, Twitter and Facebook messages of encouragement while I stood on the Senate floor (more than 10 hours) speaking against this legislation and trying to kill the bill. I’ve always said that an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us, and that certainly holds true for the current legislative assault on the working men and women of Missouri and America who need good jobs and health care. In an effort to benefit big business, we are setting a bad precedent for the future of Missouri and our citizens, the state’s most precious resource.