Missouri's Reputation as a Welcoming State at Risk

by Charlie Hinderliter | Apr 20, 2016

Missouri Senate Joint Resolution 39 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would create a constitutional right for businesses and individuals to discriminate against LGBT people in certain instances. We believe that treating everyone fairly and equally is essential to maintaining Missouri’s brand as a welcoming and thriving home for the best minds and talented workers who want to help grow businesses, raise their families, and explore our world class attractions. Missouri’s policies say a lot about its reputation as a good place to do business. We believe it is important that our state laws treat everyone with dignity and respect, regardless of their race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.

We strongly believe that Senate Joint Resolution 39 does not represent our values as Missourians, and the measure will damage our state’s reputation as a welcoming home and travel destination for job creators, their employees, families and customers. While it is not possible to place a precise dollar value on the impact of SJR 39, there are examples of states passing similar legislation and the consequential economic fallout.  The Missouri business community and business groups around the country have stated clearly that this type of legislation adds risk and uncertainty to the business environment.  These potential risks could result in economic losses, competitive disadvantages and damaged corporate and community reputations.  The economic sectors that are most vulnerable to negative impact are tourism, business talent attraction and corporate reputation - sectors that, if damaged, would harm the entire state’s economy.


The Chamber has put together a summary of some of the possible economic impacts that SJR 39 could have on the economy of Missouri.  

Take action

If your company would like to join Missouri Competes, you can sign up here.  

We encourage you to contact your member of the state House of Representatives and ask them to vote against SJR 39 or to amend it to address the concerns of the business community.  You can look up your elected officials on the Chamber’s Advocacy Action Center.

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Timeline of SJR 39

SJR 39 was filed in mid-February and moved with incredible speed through the Senate committee process.  The bill was filed on February 17 and had passed through committee eight days later.  The business community reacted quickly, but not quickly enough in order to organize to testify in the Senate.  The Chamber has engaged in the Capitol in the bill from the week it was filed, and shared our concerns with the bill sponsor and with Senate leadership.

The St. Louis Regional Chamber was among the first in the business community to publicly oppose SJR 39.  After a record filibuster, SJR 39 was passed by the state Senate, modified once from its original version.  Amendments suggested by members of the business community were ignored by the Senate.

The pace of the proposed constitutional amendment has been more typical in the House.  The St. Louis Regional Chamber was joined by the Greater KC Chamber, the Missouri Chamber, and the Greater St. Charles County Chamber in opposing SJR 39.

On Friday, March 18th the St. Louis Regional Chamber hosted a press conference with St. Louis Civic Progress, the Regional Business Council, the St. Louis CVC, Monsanto, MasterCard, and Governor Nixon to speak out against Senate Joint Resolution 39.  A host of business leaders attended to show that the business community is united in opposition to SJR 39.  At the press conference Express Scripts, Juristat, and Venture Café also announced their opposition to SJR 39.  You can read more about the event from the Governor's siteSt. Louis Public Radio, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The Chamber and our members continued to work the halls in Jefferson City expressing our concern over SJR 39.  On April 4th we delivered a letter to House leadership on SJR 39.

Last week, on Tuesday, April 12 the St. Louis Regional Chamber, in partnership with more than 80 businesses and business organizations from across the state of Missouri, launched Missouri Competes, a coalition opposed to Senate Joint Resolution 39.  The coalition has doubled since its launch to nearly 200 businesses.  Missouri Competes members include small, medium, and large companies, including some of the largest employers in our region.  They are business from across the state and across industry sectors.  You can read more about Missouri Competes from St. Louis Public Radio.  If your company would like to join Missouri Competes, you can sign up here.  That same day, leading members of the business community, including the Chamber, published an Op-Ed in the Post-Dispatch, articulating how SJR 39 would hurt Missourians and Missouri companies. 

Leaders from the business community attended and testified at the House Emerging Issues Committee hearing on SJR 39 on Tuesday, April 12th.  Many more from the business community attended the hearing ready to testify in opposition, but were unable to when the committee ended the hearing after midnight.  The CEOs of the St. Louis Regional Chamber, the Greater KC Chamber, the Missouri Chamber, Civic Progress and the Kansas City Civic Council attended the hearing to show their opposition to SJR 39.  Read more about the hearing in the Post-DispatchSt. Louis Public Radio, the KC Star, and the Missouri Times.