The month of September was a busy month on the legislative front. September marks the constitutionally mandated veto session each year. Most years are uneventful with either no attempts to override a Governor’s veto or one or both chambers may attempt to override one or two vetoes. This year was historic and created the perfect storm for a record setting number of veto overrides due to the unprecedented number of vetoes by the Governor and a veto proof majority in both the House and Senate. In other news, the House elected the next Speaker of the House now designated the Speaker-elect. Finally, it appears the current Speaker of the House and the Senate Appropriations chair will be battling it out in 2016 to become the next Attorney General of the State of Missouri.
The constitutionally mandated veto session was held Wednesday, September 11. This year a historic 29 bills were vetoed by Governor Nixon. The General Assembly attempted to override 18 of the 29 bills vetoed by the Governor earlier this summer; however, they were only successful overriding 10 of the vetoed bills. The 10 veto overrides by the General Assembly sets a new record (the previous record was 3). With such a large super majority of Republicans in the House and Senate, it was expected the General Assembly would be successful reaching the necessary 2/3 vote each chamber to override several bills; just how many was unclear until veto session ended after going on for over 12 hours.
I want to highlight the fate of the following bills which gained attention in the days and weeks leading up to the veto session. 1) HB253 was the highly publicized income tax reduction bill that received much media both for and against over the past two months. Critics said this bill would cut too much money from the State Budget without a source to replace the monies the state’s budget would lose ($1.2 Billion the first year and $800 Million in subsequent years). In addition there was another controversial piece in the bill that would implement a tax on prescription drugs. The bill fell short of the override by 15 votes in the House. Because the bill originated in the House, without the 109 votes necessary to advance the bill, it died in the House and never moved to the Senate for consideration. 2) SB29 also known as the paycheck protection failed to gain the votes necessary for an override. This bill allows public employee labor unions to withhold fees from public employee paychecks only upon the annual written consent of the employee. It also required the public employee’s annual consent for public employee labor unions to use fees and dues for political purposes. The bill failed by a vote of 22-11 in the Senate and never had the opportunity to move to the House for consideration. 3) HB 436 which declared any federal policy invalid that would infringe on people’s right to keep and bear arms. If passed, federal authorities who attempt to enforce those laws could have faced state misdemeanor charges. The Attorney General issued an opinion stating the bill, if allowed to become law, would be unconstitutional. The bill narrowly passed the House by a vote of 109-49. After a long and passionate debate in the Senate, the Senate failed to get enough votes to override the veto.
The following is a list of all bills which were successfully overridden by the General Assembly during veto session:
- SB 9 – Modifies provisions relating to agriculture;
- SB 110 – Establishes procedures to follow in child custody and visitation cases for military personnel;
- SB 129 – Establishes the Volunteer Health Services Act to allow for licensed health care professionals to provide volunteer services for a sponsoring organization;
- SB 170 – Allows members of public governmental bodies to cast roll call votes in a meeting if the member is participating via videoconferencing;
- HB 19 – Appropriates money for capital improvement projects;
- HB 278 – Prohibits any state or local governmental entity; public building, park, or school; or public setting or place from banning or restricting the practice, mention, celebration, or discussion of any federal holiday;
- HB 329 – Changes the laws regarding financial institutions; HB 339 – Requires an uninsured motorist to forfeit recovery of noneconomic loss under specified circumstances;
- HB 650 – Changes the laws regarding the Department of Natural Resources;
- HB 1035 – Changes the laws regarding political subdivisions.
The following is a list of all bill that failed to receive the necessary number of votes to override the Governor’s veto:
- HB 253 – Changes the laws regarding the streamlined sales and use tax agreement, tax amnesty, the community development district tax, income tax, sales and use taxes, use tax nexus, and the transportation development tax;
- HB 436 – Establishes the Second Amendment Preservation Act which rejects all federal acts that infringe on a Missouri citizens’ rights under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution;
- HB 301 – Changes the laws regarding certain sexual offenses and sexually violent offenders and establishes a prisoner re-entry program for certain offenders;
- SB 29 – Requires authorization for certain labor unions to use dues and fees to make political contributions and requires consent for withholding earnings from paychecks;
- SB 34 – Requires the Division of Workers’ Compensation to develop and maintain a workers’ compensation claims database and modifies provisions relating to experience ratings for workers’ compensation insurance;
- SB 265 – Prohibits the state and political subdivisions from implementing policies affecting property rights and from entering into certain relationships with organizations;
- SB 267 – Specifies how courts may rule in contractual disputes involving the law of other countries;
- HB 611 – Changes the laws regarding employment.
Also decided during a Republican Caucus meeting over veto session was who the next Speaker of the House will be. Current Speaker Tim Jones is termed out after the 2014 legislative session. The House voted Rep. John Diehl from Town and Country to become the next Speaker of the House. Rep. Diehl is the current Majority Floor Leader and will take over as Speaker beginning the first day of the 2015 Legislative Session.
Finally, the end of September also brought news of at least two individuals who will be running for Attorney General in 2016. Current Attorney General Chris Koster previously announced he will be running for Governor in 2016. Governor Jay Nixon is term limited and cannot run for Governor again. Current Speaker Tim Jones announced he will likely run for Attorney General in 2016 and shortly after his announcement, Senator Kurt Schaefer (Senate Appropriations Chairman) formally announced he will be running for Attorney General in 2016. There are already additional Republican names being floated to run for that seat so this could end up being a messy Republican primary in 2016. Stay tuned!
If you have any questions regarding any bills considered during the veto session or any other legislative questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.