The month of August was a relatively quiet month on the legislative front. This is typical during a non-election year. The House and Senate Republicans met during the month to decide their strategy and whether or not to attempt to override the Governor’s vetoes during the annual veto session September 11. On August 28, all bills passed by the General Assembly that did not contain an emergency clause became law.
House Republicans held their annual summer caucus in St. Louis the middle of August. Two significant things came out of the summer caucus. They elected a new Speaker Pro Tem and decided which bills they would attempt to override during veto session.
The Speaker Pro Tem leadership seat was vacated after Rep. Jason Smith resigned his House of Representatives seat after being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and was sworn into congress the beginning of June. Rep. Jeannie Riddle (current Rules Chair) and Rep. Denny Hoskins ran for the position. Their fellow Republican caucus members elected Rep. Denny Hoskins to the seat and he will serve as the Speaker Pro Tem during the 2014 legislative session.
The second significant issue resolved during the August caucus was the decision by the Speaker as to which bills the House will attempt to override on September 11. In order to override a Governor’s veto, each chamber must have 2/3 majority vote. The originating chamber must vote to override a veto of a bill before the bill can move to the opposite chamber for a veto vote. This means a House Bill must be overridden in the House then move to the Senate for an override vote. If the originating chamber does not vote to override the veto, override attempt is dead.
Both the House and the Senate hold veto proof majorities. This means if every member of their Republican caucuses vote “yes” to override a veto of the Governor, the veto will be overridden and the bill would become law. The problem is that most of the bills the Governor vetoed do not appear to have 100% support of the Republican caucus. Many are close and on some bills Democrats would join the Republicans to override a veto.
Speaker Tim Jones decided he would attempt to override the veto of every House Bill vetoed by the Governor. The Governor vetoed 29 bills in all, 10 were House Bills. One bill in particular at the center of the override controversy, HB253, a bill that among many other things would reduce the state income tax burden for individuals and businesses. The bill was proposed and passed by two Northwest Missouri legislators who stated these income tax cuts must be made to compete with the State of Kansas for their areas. The heart of the debate is centered on two things. First, a majority of the revenue the state operates on comes from taxes. Without sufficient revenue sources to replenish the lost revenues from the income tax cuts proposed in this bill, the state projects it would lose $1.2 billion in operating revenue the first year and nearly $800 million a year each subsequent year. The other highly controversial issue contained in the bill, was a tax put on all prescription drugs. Raising the taxes on prescription drugs would significantly impact on some of the poorest Missourians and the elderly, a population in our state that already has very limited income sources. At this point it appears the House is short on votes to override the Governor’s veto.
This bill has received much media attention and you have and will continue to see much media and advertisements dedicated to this issue. It appears the House is close to having enough votes to override the veto, but it does not appear at this stage in the game the House Republicans have the entire 109 votes to override the veto. This issue will be a hot topic until September 11.
I want to thank everyone who attended the ASA-PAC Claybird shoot in August. The weather couldn’t have been better and as usual the food was great. Your support of this PAC fundraising event is greatly appreciated and allows us to continue to reach out and support those who support our goals in the legislature.