The month of September was full of activity on the political front as legislators returned to Jefferson City for the annual constitutionally mandated veto session. In addition, Governor Parson called his first Special Session.
Each year in mid-September, lawmakers are given the opportunity to attempt an override of any vetoes issued by the Governor on legislation passed the previous session. The House voted to override four of Gov. Parson’s budget vetoes. Of concern to some House members, was a veto of the funding stream for inspections of designated stroke centers and other time-critical emergency diagnoses at healthcare facilities. The Executive Branch believes the inspections can still be accomplished by using federal grants to cover the cost of the inspections, but House members don’t agree with that assessment. The Senate did not agree with the House and believes the differences between the House and the Governor can be fixed or taken care of in a Supplemental Budget bill when the 2019 Legislative Session begins in January.
Veto session also had a different twist this year, as Governor Parson called a special session to run concurrently with the veto session. The special session was called to specifically address two of the bills which he had vetoed. Those bills dealt with a modification of education curriculum as well as one dealing with drug treatment courts. The education bill was focused on creating an online curriculum of science, technology, engineering, and math courses, also known as the STEM bill. Legislators state the measure will assist with job creation in the state by helping to provide a well trained and educated workforce.
The second bill considered by lawmakers was one dealing with the expansion of treatment courts throughout the state. While not a new concept, the courts have only been used in limited geographic areas throughout Missouri. By allowing more access to substance abuse treatment, models have shown that recidivism is dramatically reduced. Also included in the expansion of the courts is a provision allowing a defendant in a county without a treatment court, to have their case transferred to one that does.
Governor Parson did not disagree with the intent of the bills and vetoed them merely over concerns with some of the language in the bills passed by the General Assembly. Those issues were fixed in the Special Session. Both bills passed quickly through the House and Senate and now head to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
One final item considered by lawmakers during their return to Jefferson City was Senate consideration of 44 appointments by Governor Parson to various Boards and Commissions. Many gubernatorial appointments must be approved by the Senate before the appointees can officially be seated in their position. One of the key nominees was Sandy Karsten as the Director of the Department of Public Safety. Karsten had been tapped by Governor Parson to head up the agency after he recently removed former Director Drew Juden. Karsten has just recently retired from her position as Superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Former State Representative Robert Cornejo was also up for approval as a member of the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission. Both Karsten and Cornejo were easily approved.
One appointee was not approved however, as objections were raised by Senator Jamilah Nasheed regarding the appointment of Peter Herschend to the Board of Education. After Nasheed voiced her concerns on the Senate floor, signaling that she may hold up approval of the entire slate of appointees, Governor Parson rescinded his nomination of Herschend, thus allowing the remainder to move forward.
Finally, Proposition D continues to gain steam as proponents recently traveled to all corners of the state holding rallies and informational seminars, with Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe leading the charge. The measure, which will appear on the November ballot, will increase the motor fuel tax by ten cents per gallon when fully phased-in and will generate over $400 million annually for road and bridge construction throughout the state. 70% of the total amount will be earmarked for state use, with the remaining 30% going to cities and counties for road construction and maintenance. A more in-depth explanation of the proposition may be found at safermo.com.
We will continue to keep you updated on political happenings in Jefferson City and across the state. Remember, the November General Election is quickly approaching and will be held on Tuesday November 6.