Last edited 4:05 p.m., Feb. 12, 2019
Senate committee hearings continue, as Senate Bill 122 was examined by the Senate’s General Laws Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 5. This bill establishes the Stop Socialism Act.
This legislation would create a cause of action by any person against a state or local governing body that provides a competitive service that also is provided by that person within the jurisdiction of the public body. Upon proving that the services offered by the public body has caused financial detriment to the person, a court shall award the person damages in the amount lost due to the public body’s actions.
Current laws allow for public entities to offer similar services as a private business within the same jurisdiction. I believe this law is hurting our private businesses, because it forces them to compete with an entity into which they pay taxes. This can cause extra financial strain on a private business, and they may not be able to adequately compete with the public body’s resources.
There are a couple of examples in the 20th Senatorial District where a public body’s services could hurt private businesses.
The Missouri State Parks Department was considering buying a canoe rental company that would have put them in direct competition with the Harvey Alley Spring Canoes Rental, a local company in Shannon County.
Fortunately, the state decided not to buy this company, but it is the principle that the state has the ability to compete with private businesses in the free market and potentially harm these organizations that they are supposed to serve.
The Springfield YMCA has lost business as a result of a new fitness facility built by the city of Springfield.
The Dan Kinney Family Center was built by the city within three miles of the YMCA, and can afford to offer lower prices because of the tax money it receives. The YMCA cannot afford to compete with the fitness facility’s low prices, and a report conducted by the YMCA estimated that they could lose 809 memberships due to this new facility and its location near the YMCA.
At the General Laws Committee hearing on Tuesday, I heard testimony from individuals who both supported and opposed the bill.
I appreciated this testimony because it gave me the opportunity to hear multiple perspectives from those who will be directly affected by this bill. My goal is to produce the best piece of legislation possible, and I look forward to working with my fellow committee members to achieve this goal.
The purpose of this bill is to promote fair competition and economic growth in the market and allow private businesses to compete with each other, not a government entity.
Sen. Eric Burlison, R-Battlefield, can be reached at Senate.Mo.gov/burlison.
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