Reforming Missouri’s job-crushing legal climate: Lawmakers pass SB 591
Missouri lawmakers have passed legislation to bring much needed reforms to Missouri’s legal climate. After receiving final approval from the House of Representatives, Senate Bill 591 now goes to Gov. Mike Parson to be signed into law.
Our state’s legal climate currently ranks 44th in the nation according to the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. Senate Bill 591 will stop abuse of the state’s punitive damage system. Originally designed as a way to punish and deter a small number of defendants who demonstrated the worst type of conduct, today Missouri’s punitive damage system is often used to pressure businesses into agreeing to windfall-sized payouts. The bill also reforms the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.
“Improving Missouri’s legal climate was the Missouri Chamber’s top priority this session and we applaud the Missouri General Assembly for passing these very meaningful reforms,” said Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. “As our state begins its economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, we need to ensure Missouri is business-friendly and welcoming for job growth opportunities. Unfortunately, for years our legal climate has been sending the opposite message. But by passing these reforms we are finally addressing this problem and helping set the stage for a strong recovery.”
Research shows that a state’s legal climate does in fact have a strong impact on job growth. The U.S. Chamber’s study found that 89 percent of business leaders said that a state’ litigation environment is likely to impact important business decisions, including where to locate or do business. In addition, the Institute for Legal Reform found that our litigation system is costing every Missouri household $3,099 per year on average.
The Missouri Chamber would like to thank Sen. Bill White, a Republican from Joplin, for sponsoring this legislation and Rep. Bruce DeGroot, a Republican from Chesterfield, for handling the bill in the House. Both are 2019 Missouri Business Champions.