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AIM for Good Business Issue Articles

Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft Addresses Business Leaders at 2011 SHOW ME Leadership Event

Nathan Dampf, AIM Director of Communications, 1/13/2011


Yesterday, former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft looked into an audience of business leaders and Missouri State elected officials and discouraged a federal and state government from generating “evolving legal standards.”


“Evolving legal standards create a paralysis in the business community and a proliferation of resources to the legal profession,” said Ashcroft.


Associated Industries of Missouri (AIM) has discussed and advocated against the uncertainties that our state and federal leaders have forced on business and caused such a paralysis. Business cannot legislate job growth, but they can hinder it due to inaction on employment and discrimination law reforms that create an unsympathetic court system that looks at business as corrupt. The same unsympathetic activist judges prevent businesses from reinvesting dollars back into their business because those businesses suffer outrageous court costs and settlements associated with employee claims that are no fault of the business.


Ashcroft commented yesterday at the AIM SHOW ME Leadership event, “we cannot legislate ourselves into prosperity, but if given the opportunity [to create jobs], we will ascend to that opportunity.”


To pursue that opportunity, Associated Industries and several other groups have presented a list of six priorities to state leaders that have no fiscal impact to the state. The Fix the Six Coalition has agreed on the issues of:


  1. Tort reform;
  2. Unemployment bonding;
  3. Elimination of the minimum wage indexing;
  4. A cap on Missouri’s franchise tax;
  5. Workers’ compensation reform; and
  6. Employment and discrimination law reforms.


These issues, if implemented this year, would give business leaders the certainty that they need to expand and create jobs by investing resources in the business. Much to the pleasure of yesterday’s attendees, state leaders agreed with the priorities.


Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer specifically addressed the franchise tax limit which would encourage Missouri businesses to move outstate assets into the Show Me State. He mentioned that we must correct the court decisions over the past five years that have reversed federal employment and discrimination law practices.


Missouri Speaker of the House Steven Tilley agreed as well, but he took it one step further and addressed the regulatory reforms that force businesses to spend time on compliance rather than running a business. Lastly, he addressed the elimination of “joint and several liability” of the 2005 tort reform provisions.  Current law allows judgments to be collected from any party that is at least 51 percent at fault. The Fix the Six Coalition wants to make sure a party’s liability for payment of a judgment is directly related to the percentage of fault.


Speaker Pro Tem of the House Shane Schoeller, specifically addressed the AIM-proposed business income tax deduction. The proposal would provide a tax deduction to any and all Missouri businesses no matter the size of the company. While the provision would cost the state $25 million in its first year phased-in, it did receive the support of Speaker Tilley and Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer.


While traditional business issues were addressed, a non-traditional business issue was raised by House Democratic Leader Mike Talboy: Education. Missouri’s workforce is nothing without job prospects. House Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones and House Assistant Minority Leader Tishaura Jones also indicated support for strong education reform.


Majority Leader Tim Jones addressed a study that displays a 50 percent disparity between the jobs that the United States will be able to provide in future years and the lack of a workforce to fill those positions due to a failing education system. Minority Leader Talboy, Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones, and Assistant Minority Leader Tishaura Jones challenged business leaders to get engaged in the education system and legislative education reforms in order to ensure Missouri businesses will not be harmed by the job-workforce disparities.


AIM President Ray McCarty summarized the day’s events. “The event was a great success. Attorney General Ashcroft provided insight into the federal government’s response to move the country out of a recession and state leaders discussed their priorities which mirror those of business. Now, we - as business leaders - must hold our legislators accountable to their comments and restore prosperity in Missouri.”