JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Bob Holden's effort to allow unions to take money from non-union state workers was voted down by a House rules committee Tuesday.
By a party-line vote, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules sent to the full house a resolution reccomending the removal of the service fee rule.
The General Assembly now has until early March to act on the resolution. If it does not make it out of the General Assembly, Holden's executive order still could face a legal challenge over whether a governor can take money from workers without specific legal authority.
"This is a very unusual step we're having to take," said Richard Byrd, R-St. Louis County. "This is it."
The Tuesday afternoon debate was filled with legal minutae and improprieties, of missing private entity forms and negligent fiscal impact evaluations. Witnesses spoke of the value of unions, and a lobbyist said he feared that executive orders would overtake legislative process, and that state employees would be forced into losing some of their paycheck.
"This is not voluntary," said Richard Byrd, R-St. Louis County, about the effects of Holden's order on job-seekers. "This is an economic gun to the head."
But some said that the real motivation behind the attack on Holden's rule, masked by legal technicalities, is ultimately nothing more than pure politics.
"We recognize that there are technical issues," said Missouri AFL-CIO treasurer Herb Johnson. "But we don't believe there is a violation. This is strictly political."
Democratic Floor Leader Rick Johnson was also critical of the entirely Republican-driven efforts to pass the resolution.
"Someday, it will make sense to work for the state, rather than to be a ward of the state," . "This is about state employees being treated fairly, and it's one more slap in the face."
If the legislature passes the resolution, it is subject to veto by the governor and a veto override that would require a 2/3 vote of the legislature. If the governor is serious about this rule, Republicans will need some Democratic support to override the veto.
The resolution passed by a 7 to 4 vote.