By Michael Layer
CRYSTAL CITY Mo. – Sen. Gary Romine said that he was not aware of the letter which outlined that his SB 43 employee discrimination bill violated federal standards. He spoke with Missouri Times publisher Scott Faughn about his bill, which jeopardizes at least $500,000 of federal funds because it violated standards set by the Fair Housing Act.
“I was not made aware of that letter, no,” Romine said. “I think there was – maybe an understanding that because we knew from the fiscal note that there was going to be some question with housing, that there was a difference in the standard.”
Missouri House Democrats released a letter on Wednesday that informed the Greitens administration and the bill’s sponsors that SB 43 violated the Fair Housing Act, a part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. The letter is dated February 6, which would mean that the Missouri governor received the letter months before SB 43 passed the General Assembly and signed the bill anyway.
In debating the bill, he admits that Democrats warned him that his proposed legislation violated the Fair Housing Act, but that was not their biggest problem about the bill. “It was a minimal part of the conversation,” he said.
Not only did the governor receive the letter months in advance, Romine alleges that Greitens was a part of the discussions to help pass the bill.
“There was a portion in time when we had the governor involved in this,” he said.
When asked why Greitens would withhold the letter, Romine refused to speculate.
“We’ve had our differences, but I cannot and will not speculate on why they chose not to share that letter,” Romine said. “I cannot answer that.”
Romine mentions that one of the reasons why he wanted to craft the bill was to provide a better business climate for current and potential businesses. Both he and Greitens have been pro-business and passed legislation to demonstrate their willingness. As a business owner who has experienced discrimination lawsuits, he mentions that discrimination lawsuits can be “detrimental for business.”
“I do not support discrimination of any type, discrimination is wrong. No matter what the person’s status is. Discrimination is wrong,” Romine said. “But, the discrimination has to be valid.”