The head of Eric Greitens’ transition team outlined the Missouri governor-elect’s legislative priorities for 2017 and new details on inaugural and transition activities during a conference call on Thursday.
Greitens will be sworn in at noon on Monday, January 9.
Austin Chambers, who will be a senior adviser in the new administration, says Greitens will focus his legislative efforts on laws related to jobs, ethics reform, public safety and education reform.
“Right to work” legislation, which bans agreements requiring employees to join unions or pay union dues, is at the top of Greitens’ priority list. The General Assembly passed such a bill in 2016, but it was vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon. The new governor plans to sign it into law when the Republican-controlled General Assembly passes it again, as its leaders have vowed to do.
Chambers says there will also be proposals to reform labor regulations, create employment opportunities for veterans and reform tort law to “level the playing field.”
"Businesses shouldn’t live under the fear here in Missouri of being sued around every turn,” Chambers says. “We shouldn’t make this a trial lawyer’s heaven.”
Chambers says the governor will urge the legislature to pass a complete ban on gifts from lobbyists. Greitens would support a “one-for-one revolving door ban,” requiring a waiting period for elected officials to become registered lobbyists proportional to the length of their service.
“If you’ve served in the legislature or in the executive branch for one year, then you’re going to wait one year before you become a lobbyist,” Chamber says. “If you’ve done two years, you’re going to wait two years. If you’ve done 16 years, you’re going to wait 16 years.”
Greitens will also propose a constitutional amendment imposing term limits for all statewide offices. Senators and representatives, as well as the governor and treasurer, are already subject to term limits; any new rules would affect the lieutenant governor, auditor, secretary of state and attorney general.
Chambers says the new governor will emphasize programs to strengthen law enforcement.
“Taking this from a state where we’ve got three of the 11 most violent cities in the country to making it the safest state in the country to live, work and play.”
Greitens will call for stricter punishment for assault of a police officer, as well as development of a “Blue Alert” system, to track down someone who has injured or killed a police officer, similar to the Amber Alert system used to locate missing children.
Finally, Chambers says the new governor supports “choice” in education and is working with legislators to explore the creation of education savings accounts.
“The governor is committed to making sure that education revolves around the child,” Chamber says.
Chambers outlined new details of plans for Inauguration day, January 9. Prior to the swearing-in at noon, Greitens will participate in an interfaith prayer service and a ceremony “honoring Missouri heroes,” including law enforcement officers, veterans, teachers, families and others. Later, he will review National Guard troops on the Capitol grounds and receive the public at the governor’s mansion. In a break with tradition, there will be no inaugural parade.
Immediately after the inaugural address, Greitens plans to sign a series of executive orders in the governor’s office. Chambers would not disclose the contents of those orders, but said some would rescind orders by previous governors, and others might contain new actions within the limits of the governor’s authority.
Chambers left a sense of mystery around a headline performer at the inaugural ball, which will happen in the Capitol rotunda that evening.
“At the ball, there will be a special guest that will remain a surprise until that night,” Chambers said. “It is a national music star … who we are excited about welcoming back home to Missouri, someone who is from Missouri and has Missouri roots.”
Additional Transition Plans Announced
Chambers announced that Greitens will deliver his “State of the State” address to the General Assembly Tuesday, January 17, at 7:30 p.m., two weeks after the Assembly session convenes, and said the address will reveal more of how the governor will “change the way business is done in Missouri.”
Breaking with tradition, Greitens’ State of the State will not include his formal budget presentation for Fiscal Year 2018; that will come in a separate presentation later in the month.
One of the governor’s first tasks will be withholding spending on budget lines to account for reductions in projected revenues in 2017. Chambers said Greitens has already decided on what spending to withhold in consultation with legislative leaders, but that he would not be making those public until after he is sworn in.
While Greitens has already announced several appointments to his senior staff, including Anheuser-Busch executive Mike Roche as his chief of staff and Parkville attorney Lucinda Luetkemeyer as general counsel, more announcements will come next week. The most high-profile of these, for the newly created position of chief operating officer, has already been selected.
“They’re an outsider who is coming in from the business world, not someone who has been in elected office or been involved in politics,” Chambers says. “They’re someone who has had a successful business career who is going to come in and help the governor-elect bring transformational change and reform here in Missouri.”
Chambers says the new C.O.O. is from Missouri and that he or she may serve without compensation as a volunteer.
Brian Ellison is host/contributor at KCUR and host of the political podcast, Statehouse Blend Missouri. KCUR 89.3 will have live coverage of the Missouri inaugural ceremony in an extended version of Up to Date at 11 a.m. on Monday, January 9.