THE OUTCOME WHEN ANTI-LABOR AGENDAS ARE SUPPORTED BY MAJORITY OF LEGISLATORS AS WELL AS THE GOVERNOR
December 21, 2016 from the Kansas City Business Journal
As Graves prepares to lead Missouri GOP, he shares its legislative agenda
Kansas City attorney Todd Graves was nominated by Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens to become chairman of the Missouri Republican Party.
Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens has nominated Kansas City attorney Todd Graves to become chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, and right to work and tort reform will be his top legislative priorities.
Graves awaits a Jan. 7 confirmation vote by the Republican State Committee. He’ll succeed John Hancock, who is stepping down. Graves said he’ll continue to run his legal practice at Graves Garrett LLC in Kansas City and will simply be adding jobs such as party fundraising, messaging and coordination to his responsibilities.
Graves steps into the new role at a time when Republicans enjoy veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate, plus control of the governor’s office. Graves said the first moves by the new administration aren’t cloaked in mystery. The unions knew that Greitens favors right to work, which is why they donated $30 million to Chris Koster‘s campaign. Plaintiffs attorneys knew Greitens plans to enact tort reform, which is why they donated heavily to Koster as well. They backed the wrong candidate, and elections have consequences.
“Kansas is a right-to-work state. In Kansas City, we feel that,” Graves said. “St. Louis isn’t impacted as much by that because Illinois isn’t a right-to-work state. Our tort laws are also much more plaintiff friendly than they are in Kansas, which puts us in a bit of a disadvantage, aside from the tax environment. So that change is going to be good for this region.”
Graves also expects to see appointments at the state level that are far more business friendly. Those include on the bench and to the departments of insurance, natural resources, etc. Graves said the pendulum on a lot of business-related issues swung too far to the left under Gov. Jay Nixon and needs to be put back into balance. But to do that, Missouri Republicans are looking to shift the pendulum all the way in the opposite direction.
“If your goal is to find a happy medium, you never get to the middle,” Graves said. “If you shift it all the way the other way, I suppose over time you can find a happy medium. So yeah, the goal is to shift it all the way in the other direction. That said, no one is in favor of meritorious cases not getting their day in court. That’s like saying someone is in favor of dirty air and dirty water. That’s not the way it is. But we can have a reasonable debate over what a meritorious case is.”
Plaintiff lawyers had a really good run under Nixon, Graves said, and during that time they overplayed their hand, refusing any compromise. Now that’s going to head to the opposite direction, more in favor of businesses.
As for whether Missouri Republicans plan to eliminate flow-through income taxes like Kansas, Graves said it wasn’t as high a priority as right to work and tort reform. That said, tax cuts are certainly on the table, though he has no idea what it might look like.
“The more you tax productivity, the less you get of it,” Graves said. “We need to have as much of a pro-growth tax environment as we can afford. Where that line is drawn depends on what the state can afford.”