Workplace equality bill for all businesses in Missouri

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COLUMBIA - State Representative Caleb Rowden is looking to implement a bill that would ensure uniform workplace standards across the state.

In a press release issued by Rowden's office, Rowden said Bill HB 865, which was filed on Thursday, will help keep all businesses on an equal playing field.

"A statewide hodgepodge of regulations would create confusion among employers and put some businesses at a competitive disadvantage," Rowden said. "Small businesses attempting to expand would also suffer when forced to comply with multiple, varying regulations."

But one Columbia business owner completely disagreed.

"I'm an independent, small business person," Ruth LaHue, the owner of My Secret Garden, said. "I just like to follow my own rules, and I don't like to be dictated just blankly with everyone else in the state. I'm not the same as everyone else in the state, so I shouldn't have to follow the same rules."

LaHue said she feels much more comfortable approaching a local city council person than approaching someone from the state. As a small business owner in Columbia, she said she thinks the economies across the state vary tremendously, and one blanket of rules cannot properly address all businesses.

In his press release, Rowden said he believes this bill wouldn't affect local business in the way LaHue fears.

"HB 865 is designed to provide a uniform environment to foster a more competitive and balanced marketplace," Rowden said. "This bill will help protect local business owners from radical activists on city councils who seek to attack job creators and the working middle class families they employ."

Rowden never returned our phone call for more information on the bill, but with the knowledge we have, LaHue said she doesn't think there is anyway the state could give her the necessary attention if she needed it.

"I'm not sure the state people will even know I exist," LaHue said. "There are so many businesses in Missouri."