Lawmakers vote to extend safety net for employers, workers

Posted June 26, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Eight people died in traffic crashes over the 2014 Memorial Day weekend. Last year, six people were killed during the three-day weekend. During the counting period of 6 p.m., Friday, May 23, through 11:59 p.m. Monday, May 26, 2014, the Missouri State Highway Patrol investigated 295 traffic crashes which included 130 injuries and the eight fatalities. Troopers also arrested 146 people for driving while intoxicated.

During the 2013 Memorial Day holiday weekend, the Patrol investigated 274 traffic crashes resulting in 119 injuries and five of the six fatalities. Last year, 129 people were arrested by the Patrol for driving while intoxicated.

“Eight people died over the Memorial Day weekend and not one of them was wearing a seat belt,” said Colonel Ron Replogle, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. “We cannot emphasize it enough: Seat belts save lives. Please buckle up every time you are in a vehicle.”

There were zero boating fatalities over the 2014 Memorial Day weekend. Troopers investigated eight boating crashes involving two injuries. There were no drownings. Troopers arrested 20 people for boating while intoxicated over the holiday weekend.

During the 2013 Memorial Day weekend, officers investigated seven boating crashes, which included three injuries, and one fatality. There were no drownings over last year’s Memorial Day weekend. Eighteen people were arrested for boating while intoxicated during the 2013 holiday.

Of the eight traffic crash fatalities investigated by the Patrol, three occurred in the Troop C, Weldon Spring, area; two occurred in the Troop D, Springfield, area; and one occurred in each of the Troop E, Poplar Bluff, Troop F, Jefferson City, and Troop I, Rolla, areas.

A program that helped more than 30,000 workers keep their jobs last year has been extended, thanks to action by Missouri lawmakers. The Missouri Senate gave unanimous approval today to Senate Bill 844, legislation that extends the federal Shared-Work Program. The Missouri House approved the bill yesterday on a vote of 143-4. The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon, a Republican from Springfield. SB 844 now heads to Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk for signature.

Nearly 350 Missouri employers were able to avoid layoffs last year using the Shared-Work Program. Instead of cutting staff, employers can reduce workers’ hours through the program, with wages lost to workers supplemented by partial unemployment benefits.

“This safety net allows companies to weather tough economic times without losing their skilled workforce. At the same time, the program helps Missouri workers make ends meet,” said Dan Mehan, Missouri Chamber President and CEO. “In addition to supplementing lost wages, employees can also retain employer-provided benefits, such as health care.”

The program is a win-win for employers, workers and the state. It is a proven method for keeping jobs in Missouri.

“Employer members have told us that the Shared-Work Program has helped many of them stay in business during tough times. Companies and jobs saved are important to the state’s bottom line,” Mehan said.

When Missouri Chamber members were alerted that the Shared-Work Program was in jeopardy if this legislation was not passed, many reached out to their legislators and urged action. Their action played a key role in pushing the extension over the finish line.

Similar legislation, House Bill 1713, was sponsored by Rep. Jeanne Lauer. Rep. Lauer provided leadership and support on her bill and SB 844.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry (www.mochamber.com) was founded in 1923 and is the largest business organization in Missouri, representing almost 3,000 employers, providing more than 425,000 jobs for Missourians.