- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House passed legislation Thursday requiring public employees to give annual, written permission for union dues to be withheld from their paychecks, though the measure would exempt first responders such as police and firefighters.

House lawmakers approved the bill with a vote of 110-47, exceeding the 109 votes necessary to override any veto from Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, who has vetoed similar legislation in the past.

“We clearly now have the votes and are prepared to override his veto,” House Speaker Todd Richardson said. The bill now heads to the Senate.

Rep. Holly Rehder, the Sikeston Republican who sponsored the bill, said the “paycheck protection” measure would make unions more accountable to their members. “It makes a union leader provide a service to the worker,” she said.

Opponents of the legislation say it’s an effort to weaken unions, rather than something workers want.

Teachers can already cancel their dues any time they want, and this legislation simply complicates the process, said Otto Fajen, legislative director of the Missouri National Education Association. And because the three teachers’ unions have to compete with each other, each group is already very attentive to their members’ needs, he said.

The only Democrat to vote for the bill, Rep. Courtney Allen Curtis, said unions haven’t done enough to support black workers or their communities.

Rep. Linda Black of Park Hills, who was among seven Republicans to vote against the measure, said she opposed it because workers in her district are “overwhelmingly” pro-union. But she added that union supporters should recognize they need to do more to combat the “changing tide” in the state.

Exemptions for first responders were also included in similar legislation in 2014. This year the exclusion was proposed by Rep. Dave Hinson, a St. Clair Republican who has worked as a firefighter and paramedic, according to his House biography. He said many public safety departments already have annual reauthorizations in place.

Democrats have called the exemptions hypocritical.

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Union bill is HB1891.

Online:

House: https://www.house.mo.gov

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Associated Press writer Summer Ballentine contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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