Missouri Business Headlines

GM incentive bill, legal reforms will help state compete for jobs

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For many years, Missouri’s economic reputation has been hurt by having one of the nation’s worst legal climates. National rankings show there is a real problem. Missouri ranks 49th in the most recent U.S. Chamber Institute for Judicial Reform state legal climate survey. The American Tort Reform Association ranked St. Louis as the nation’s fourth worst “Judicial Hellhole” late last year. Repairing this problem has been a long-term project for the Missouri Chamber and is a goal of Missouri 2030. Major progress was made in 2019.

Positive news came early this year as the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that tort cases must be brought in the county where the plaintiff was first injured — essentially stopping in-state cases from jumping to more plaintiff-friendly venues. Missouri lawmakers then proceeded to pass Senate Bill 7 which will also disallow out-of-state cases from flocking to plaintiff-friendly St. Louis and Kansas City courts.

Such venue shopping has been a major problem in Missouri. During a committee hearing this session, bill sponsor Sen. Ed Emery illustrated the issue by citing that out of the 13,252 mass tort plaintiffs involved in cases being heard in St. Louis City, only 1,035 are Missouri residents. That led Sen. Emery to contend that Missouri is “being used as the nation’s courtroom.”

Senate Bill 7 will finally stop this practice, a major accomplishment that the Missouri Chamber has pursued for years.

“This bill was one of the business community’s top priorities coming into the legislative session,” Mehan said. “I am confident that passing Senate Bill 7, combined with our tort reform efforts from recent years, will greatly improve our state’s standing when it comes to having a fair legal climate for businesses.”

But passing Senate Bill 7 is far from the only progress the state made this year to become more economically competitive. Lawmakers also passed legislation to:

  • Create a deal closing fund to give Missouri a key negotiating tool to finalize business investment opportunities — Senate Bill 68 by Sen. Lincoln Hough
  • Provide a consistent statewide regulatory framework for the agriculture industry based on sound science and reliable environmental data to allow rural economies to flourish — Senate Bill 391 by Sen. Mike Bernskoetter
  • Give Missouri insurance brokers the ability to market MEWA plans to the public, helping small businesses save money on health insurance — House Bill 399 by Rep. Chuck Bayse and Senate Bill 514 by Sen. David Sater
  • Stop excessive and costly litigation delay tactics by placing reasonable limits on discovery procedures — Senate Bill 224 by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer
  • Push for a truce to halt the costly economic border war between Missouri and Kansas — Senate Bill 182 by Sen. Mike Cierpiot
  • Continue the federal health care reimbursements that support our health care industry and state budget — Senate Bill 29 by Sen. Dan Hegeman
  • Allow juries to consider whether a person’s failure to wear a seatbelt may have contributed to accident injuries — Senate Bill 30 by Sen. Hegeman
  • Fund upgrades to the stadiums used by the St. Louis Blues, Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas City Royals to attract more events and visitors — House Bill 677 by Rep. Jonathan Patterson

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