Eric Greitens trashed workers’ rights, failed ethics reform but embraced business protection

Eric Greitens

Eric Greitens

Gov. Eric Greitens’ first legislative session ended Friday with a bang on his priorities to trash workers’ rights and protect businesses’ bottom lines — but with a whimper to reform ethics in Missouri government.

Greitens, a neophyte Republican politician, outlined his priorities in his State of the State speech in January.

Here are many of the major steps he claimed he wanted to do, followed by a summary of what happened. He succeeded sometimes (which too often hurt Missourians) and failed other times (which also hurt Missourians).

Greitens had a GOP-dominated legislature to help him with his package of plans. Yet he still failed to deliver on some key promises.

ETHICS REFORM

— “During the campaign, we came up with a simple proposal that the people supported. If you’ve been in a legislative office for one year, and you decide you want to become a lobbyist, you have to wait one year. If you’ve been in office for two years, then you have to wait two years—and so on.” FAILED

— “I also call on this legislature to put on the ballot, term limits for every statewide officeholder.” FAILED

Important addendum: During the session, Greitens was properly attacked by even fellow Republican legislators for all of his support from dark-money organizations, including one set up by his own backers to promote the governor’s agenda. It’s called “A New Missouri.”

By being the biggest abuser of the public’s trust, Greitens during the session lost 100 percent of his credibility to push through major ethics reform.

WORKERS’ RIGHTS

— “The people have sent us a message: We must do everything in our power to put people back to work in good, high-paying jobs. That’s why we must join 27 other states and sign Right to Work.” SUCCEEDED

As The Kansas City Star reported at the time: “Unions vehemently oppose right-to-work laws, arguing that the real motivation is political: Republicans want to weaken a political nemesis by allowing some workers to benefit from the contracts labor unions negotiate without having to contribute to covering the costs of those negotiations.”

— “That’s why we must do away with expensive Project Labor Agreements that drive up the costs of construction and slow down important projects in our communities.” SUCCEEDED

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted that the bill’s critics said, “The Missouri AFL-CIO argues that PLAs protect public investment by weeding out unqualified contractors and keeping projects on schedule, with fewer injured workers and no strikes or work disputes.”

JUDICIAL REFORM

— “We’re the place where the nastiest lawyers come to do work so dirty, and engage in lawsuits so murky, they wouldn’t pass muster anywhere else…. We need to move to the Daubert standard for expert witness testimony. Right now, our standards are far too low. By moving to the Daubert standard, we’d be adopting the same standards used by the federal government and 39 other states.” SUCCEEDED

— “I want to establish a Blue Alert system, so that we can find and bring swift justice to anyone who assaults a law enforcement officer.” SUCCEEDED

STATE EMPLOYEES

— “… We are 50th out of 50 in state employee pay. We need to change that. Our government employees do important work—often really important, life-saving work. We need to reward the greatest in government service with better pay.” FAILED

TAX CREDITS

— “Together, with a team of outsiders and legislators, we are going to do a thorough, end-to-end audit of our tax credit system—and create a tax code that works not to benefit privileged insiders, but instead is fair to all.” PARTLY SUCCEEDED

A group is supposed to report by June 30 on how the General Assembly could reform the tax credit programs that divert tens of millions of tax dollars from the general fund. It’s a solid idea from the governor.

But can Greitens get something positive done about it? We won’t know until the 2018 session.