Greitens restricts $251M from 2018 budget, decides on minimum wage and workplace discrimination

Gov. Eric Greitens closed the state’s fiscal year with a flurry of activity Friday afternoon, announcing in a news release that he had signed the state budget into law while restricting $251 million.

The first-year Republican governor also signed a bill that will make it harder for employees to sue for workplace discrimination, signed several tort reform bills, and announced that a bill blocking municipal minimum wage increases will become law without his signature.

Budget and restrictions

The day before the 2018 fiscal year is set to begin, Greitens approved House Bills 1-13, 17 and 18, which contain the state’s spending blueprint for the coming year.

In what Greitens called a “tough decision,” he will restrict $251 million to keep the budget balanced. He said he was forced to choose between cutting spending or raising taxes, and he vowed not to raise taxes.

Municipal minimum wages

Greitens opted not to sign a bill that prevents municipalities from raising their minimum wages above the state’s wage floor. Since Greitens neither signed nor vetoed the measure, it will become law by default on Aug. 28.

The bill targeted a St. Louis ordinance that had already raised the city’s minimum wage to $10 per hour and was set to increase it to $11 per hour in 2018. The state minimum is $7.70.

Initially approved by St. Louis voters in 2015, the wage hike was delayed by a legal fight that went all the way to the Missouri Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the city’s right to increase its minimum wage. However, Greitens’ announcement Friday negates that.

Workplace discrimination

The governor signed into law SB 43, which raises the state’s standard for workplace discrimination suits. Under the new law, employees suing for discrimination must prove it was the “motivating factor,” rather than a contributing factor, in their dismissal.

Greitens cited widespread use of the “motivating factor” standard.

“I believe we need to bring Missouri’s standards in line with 38 other states and the federal government,” he said in news release.

In a statement, Dan Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, applauded Greitens for signing SB 43, saying the state’s old discrimination standards “hurt our ability to attract business investment opportunities.”

Tort reform 

Greitens also signed into law SB 88, which increases malpractice protection for veterinarians, and HB 452, which limits liability of health care providers for negligence of people and entities who are not their employees.

Greitens called tort reform an important way to “prevent trial lawyers from killing good jobs.”

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