State Rep. Kent Haden, R-Mexico was one of the more than 100 lawmakers recognized as a 2019 business champion. Missouri lawmakers who, in the past year, have supported legislation aimed at workforce development, tort reform and infrastructure were honored Sept. 4 by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce.

Haden was honored for his support of Missouri Senate bills 7, 68 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 14.

Senate Bill 7 was a tort reform measure focusing on court joinder or venue. A tort case happens when a right is infringed. The bill was signed by Gov. Mike Mike Parson on July 10 and went into effect Aug. 28. The bill allows tort actions to take place in the same county where a person was initially physically or psychologically injured or affected by the alleged conduct. If the action happened to an out-of-state person, the venue will be the defendants home county.

"The main [bill] was the tort reform, which related to change of venue,” Haden said, adding out-of-state plaintiffs were tying up Missouri courts time.

A 2017 study commissioned by U.S. Chamber of Commerce affiliate U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform conducted by The Harris Poll ranked Missouri at 49 in a survey of the "fairness and reasonableness of state liability systems." Missouri was ranked 50th for enforcing meaningful court venue requirements, according to survey results. The survey's sample size was 1,321 respondents.

Senate Bill 68, signed by Parson July 10, focuses on workforce development, and went into effect Aug. 28. It created a fast-track workforce incentive grant for Missouri residents to attend an approved Missouri postsecondary institution if they are 25 or older and make an adjusted gross income of $80,000 if married, or $40,000 if single. The grant covers actual tuition and general fees. The bill also created the Missouri Workforce Development Board and a Missouri Works Training Program, renaming the Missouri One Start Program, Missouri Works Business Incentives and New Business Facility Tax Credit.

"[It answered the question,] how do we improve our workforce education?" Haden said. "What do we need in our workforce? What kind of training do we need for people to get jobs?"

Senate Concurrent Resolution 14 was a bridge bonding bill signed by Parson June 10, going into effect on that date. The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission can now issue bonds not to exceed $301 million to pay for construction and repair of 215 bridges in the state's highway system.

"There's a major bridge between where [Audrain County Route] B comes up and it turns right toward Baysinger Corner in the Rush Hill Area and that was one of the bridges for upgrades. We got up under it and saw that it needed it," Haden said.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce is the state's largest business association, with the Missouri Chamber Federation, represents more than 75,000 employers.

"The Missouri General Assembly was successful in passing numerous pro-business policies in the 2019 legislative session. We applaud our business champions for their leadership and commitment to advance legislation that will help our state prosper both now and in the foreseeable future," Missouri Chamber President and CEO Daniel P. Mehan said in a news release.

cdunlap@gatehousemedia.com