Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer addresses the media following a bill-signing ceremony in Gov. Mike Parson’s office. Luetkemeyer’s tort reform bill aims to rein in abuses in the discovery phase of a trial.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s pen was busy last week, inking his approval on dozens of bills passed by the General Assembly.

Among the wide array of measures enacted into law were several bills sponsored by members of the Northwest Missouri delegation.

Thursday afternoon, Parson hosted State Rep. Brenda Shields for a bill signing ceremony for her first major legislative accomplishment: creating certified teacher externships. The program aims to prepare educators for real-world careers that are available for the students they teach.

“I am thrilled for the opportunity for students in our state to learn from their teachers what careers are available for them after graduation,” Shields said. “And I can’t tell you how excited I am for our teachers because they will have the opportunity to learn what is available for their students.”

Earlier in the week, fellow freshman lawmaker Tony Luetkemeyer had his chance to take part in ceremonies dedicated to legislation he ushered through the General Assembly.

In addition to a bill the GOP senator worked on with St. Joseph Rep. Sheila Solon, Parson also gave approval to a measure Luetkemeyer sponsored relating to tort reform.

Senate Bill 224 reforms several aspects of the legal process of discovery, which allows two parties to gather, share and disclose evidence during a trial. Luetkemeyer told News-Press NOW the new reforms mirror the rules adopted by the federal government.

“It puts presumed limitations on the amount of discovery that parties can get in a lawsuit,” said Luetkemeyer, the only practicing attorney in the GOP’s Senate caucus. “What that means is people who are facing frivolous lawsuits won’t have these huge legal bills and never-ending litigation to deal with.”

Luetkemeyer contends the new discovery rules will make for quicker trials and settlements. The discovery changes were one of four tort reform measures signed into law by Parson this week.

“During this year’s session, we made major progress improving Missouri’s business climate,” Parson said in a statement. “... we took a great step in bringing fairness to our courts and giving Missouri businesses the opportunity for competitive economic growth.”

Mark Zinn can be reached


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