JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A pending Missouri bill would make it harder for courts to fine businesses as punishment for injuring people.

The Republican-led House gave initial approval Monday to legislation to raise the standard for what are called punitive damages in civil lawsuits.

Courts levy punitive damages against defendants as a form of punishment and to deter misconduct.

The bill would require proof that bad actors intentionally caused harm in order for courts to award punitive damages.

Republican Rep. Bruce DeGroot says his bill will help Missouri businesses. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is among business groups and companies supporting the change.

Democratic Rep. Gina Mitten says corporations cut corners to save money and not with the intent to hurt people. She says punitive damages pushes businesses to make safe products.