Entitlement juxtaposed with welfare. We saw what you did there.
And republicans complain about extending unemployment benefits. It’s telling that it makes sense to them to cut them off.
Their issue? Uh, just a wild guess, but “paying workers less” appears to fit.
On Wednesday afternoon the House Republican Caucus held a press conference in the House Lounge after the opening of the legislative session in Jefferson City. Speaker Timothy Jones (r) took questions from the media after his prepared remarks.
This is the second half of the question and answer session.
Question: The casual observer of this building a month ago would have thought that maybe some corner has been turned, that there is some sort of bipartisan, uh, spirit here that hadn’t existed previously. This morning, listening to your remarks on the floor and even in, in here that same observer might think nothing’s changed, same agenda here, same agenda on the second floor, same tone between the two. Has anything changed since a year ago?
Speaker Timothy Jones (r): You know, I think what you’ve seen in the last two years is a Missouri House and Senate working together like never before. Uh, a super majority of Missourians last November elected a super majority of the current governing caucus to lead this state. They also elected a governor who ran basically on, on our principles. And I think what the casual observer notes is that when we actually have leadership from the second floor, when the Governor actually comes to us, works with us, explains what he wants, answers our questions, provides information we pass bills efficiently and quickly like we did in special session. The reason we passed that bill in special session in the space of one week with a huge overwhelming bipartisan vote was ’cause the Governor for nearly the only time and first time in five years actually worked cooperatively with the legislature as a piece of legislation was moving through the process. If our Governor wants to cooperate and work with us we can get great things done for the state.
Question: You and your thoughts on the school transfer issue and that Senator Dempsey says it is a top priority, what does that mean for your relationship with the Senate?
Speaker Timothy Jones (r): Uh, you know, I haven’t, I haven’t looked at his remarks exactly, but I know Senator Dempsey wants to provide a great education for all children as well. That’s where our priorities line up.
Question: In your speech you hadn’t mentioned, you didn’t mention the Second Amendment. Obviously, this chamber last year passed a significant gun bill. Do you see us trying to move a similar bill?
Speaker Timothy Jones (r): Uh, at the end, at the end I actually, I actually mention that we’ll continue to protect our devotion to life and rights guaranteed by all our amendments. So, I think that includes the Second Amendment.
Question: Is it a priority for you to try and move something on guns?
Speaker Timothy Jones (r): You know, protecting, protecting the rights that Missourians hold dear, the Second Amendment being one of them, is something, uh, that I will, uh, that I will be happy to continue working with my caucus on.
Question: Are there any bills that you intend to move quickly to the floor in January?
Speaker Timothy Jones (r): I think our number one priority is jobs and the economy. Uh, we, we’ve seen in this nation, uh, over the last five years that many of the things that the government has tried in DC has failed us. In fact, uh, President Obama in, in, and unfortunately had to, is pushing to extend unemployment benefits. Well, we are six years into his presidency, I, I suppose that’s an admission the economy is not improving if more people need to continue to be on unemployment compensation benefits. So, I think the policies out of Washington, D.C. have been an absolute failure. Poverty is on the rise, more people are, are, uh, in the entitlement state, the welfare state than ever before, we’re extending unemployment benefits. This has been the, the, the most, this has been the slowest recovery from a major recession in our lifetimes. So we need to do things differently. And so fostering, creating, facilitating, uh, an environment where current businesses want to expand and stop sitting on the sidelines and new businesses want to come to our state, um, those are gonna be the priorities. And if you look at what our neighboring states have done, uh, they promote tax relief, they promote litigation reform, they promote worker freedom. So those will probably be the topics you’ll see first.
Question: The Governor put out a news release today that pointed out Missouri’s unemployment rate is a full percentage point below the national average, that, um, we were in the top ten in job creation in the last year, we had fifteen thousand jobs in November. Um, and so, but you didn’t mention anything specific when I ask you about what the legislation you all might be, um, pursuing in January. You’re gonna take the next two days off. Um, so I guess there isn’t any particular bill that you wanted to put on in January?
Speaker Timothy Jones (r): I’m actually not taking the next two days off. Uh, I’m gonna be here the rest of today, I’ll be here all day tomorrow, I’ll be here on Monday, we’ll be referring bills immediately tomorrow which is the first time we can do that. Uh, I believe our committees will be meeting. Uh, the Missouri House members will be working very hard the next two weeks. There’s, there’s, there’s no bill that can be put on the floor because it has to go through the process first, Rudy. And I know you know the legislative process. So, as soon as, as soon as we can move bills on to the calendar, uh, they will be. And so the Missouri House is, is fully operational and, uh, and working full time.
Speaker Timothy Jones (r): Uh, because six of our bordering states have moved in that regard and you’re seeing, you’re seeing job decline, uh, end for the first time in decades in the State of Michigan. You’re finally seeing the bleeding stop there. You’re seeing economic development begin to grow. Uh, this is an issue that we should not fear. Uh, the business community needs not fear it. They know in their hearts that allowing workers the freedom and choice to chose for their own whether to join an organization, where their dues go, uh, that is something that significantly, uh, will result in economic growth, uh, for the state, So, you know, I , I, I, I put, I put the politics aside, I look at the policy, I look at the changes, I look at the economic growth. Why wouldn’t we want to implement one of the policies that will create the strongest economic growth for the state?
Question: There are some [inaudible] that say, this will disrupt, well, labor agreements with a lot of history, a lot of sweat and blood in getting them developed. That this [inaudible] can disrupt labor negotiate, labor relations [inaudible] with some businesses in the St. Louis area.
Speaker Timothy Jones (r): I focus on what Missourians want. And Missourians have told me, the last seven plus years that I’ve been in this legislature, that that would be the single greatest change we can make in our state to foster the most economic growth. These are Missourians who run their businesses, these are Missourians who have seen manufacturing leave, uh, from their districts. You know, if, if it was so, uh, wonderful to be a closed union shop state, without worker freedom, then we wouldn’t have lost all the manufacturing jobs we have over the last few decades, Chrysler would still be here in Fenton, Ford would still be here in Hazelwood, and numerous other manufacturers would not have left this state for the south and the west.
Staffer: Final question [crosstalk]:
Question: If, if right to work is, is so important, uh, I mean, with, uh, fewer than ten percent of Missouri workers unionized, uh, what businesses are you talking about that are telling you that they would benefit from right to work that are already unionized now? Could you name a few?
Speaker Timothy Jones (r): Yeah, I, I, I, I’ve talked to governors in, in other states that have high economic growth and they tell me the checklist is your tax policy, your labor policy, your litigation policy. And, and if you’re not a state that has worker freedom you’re generally passed over.
Question: Well you just said that there are businesses in Missouri who told you that they would benefit from right to work. So, can you name any unionized businesses that, that brought this issue to you so that we can under, talk to them and understand what their issue is?
Speaker Timothy Jones (r): The, these businesses would rather I not disclose them for fear of retribution, so.
Staffer: Thank you. [crosstalk]
Speaker Timothy Jones (r): Thank you all very much. Have a great day.
Speaker Timothy Jones (r).