It was a hectic pace in the Capitol building during the month of September as lawmakers returned to Jefferson City for the annual veto session held on September 11. The constitutionally mandated veto session is an opportunity for members of the General Assembly to override any vetoes issued by the Governor on bills from the previous legislative session. Making the veto session even more interesting was the call for a special session to run concurrent with the veto session.

Of the six bills vetoed by Governor Mike Parson, only one was brought up for a possible override motion. Representative Deb Lavender put forth a motion to override HB399, a health care related bill, which she believes would help provide needed services in rural areas of the state where eight hospitals have closed recently as they struggled financially. Representative Chuck Basye, the original sponsor of the bill, spoke in opposition of an override attempt, and Lavender’s motion eventually failed on a vote of 105-37.

There were no override attempts made in the Missouri Senate, but two lawmakers took the opportunity to engage in a lengthy discussion on the Senate floor regarding gun violence. During their exchange, Senator Kiki Curls of Kansas City and Senator Jamilah Nasheed of St. Louis called on Senate leadership to establish an interim committee to find reasons for and solutions to the increasing gun violence and murder rate in the Missouri’s two largest cities.

In addition to the veto session, the General Assembly convened in a special session called by Governor Parson to address a recent Supreme Court ruling on sales taxes for vehicle purchases. The court had said that if a person trades in more than one vehicle when purchasing a different vehicle, the sales tax offset is only available on one of the trade-ins. House and Senate members crafted legislation to allow multiple vehicle trade-ins to be calculated when determining a purchasers sales tax liability. The measure easily passed both chambers and the special session ended as planned on Friday, September 13.

House Republicans held caucus meetings during their return to Jefferson City the week of September 9. During the caucus meeting, they selected Rob Vescovo as Speaker-elect for the 2021 legislative session. Vescovo is from Arnold and represents the 112th district comprised of parts of Jefferson County. He currently serves as majority floor leader and will continue that role through the end of 2020. Vescovo was first elected in 2014, and successfully ran for reelection in 2016 and 2018.

Earlier in September, MoDOT issued a press release regarding Governor Mike Parson’s Focus on Bridges program. The release stated that construction contracts have been awarded to replace or rehabilitate 14 of the state’s bridges that are in need of repair. Most projects on the list include bridges in the Northeast and Northwest MODOT districts. Parson’s program provides $50 million in state general revenue for repair or replacement of 45 bridges in the state. MoDOT says all 45 bridges will be under contract by the end of 2019 and completed in 2020. This is in addition to the $301 million bonding program approved by the General Assembly during the last session which is slated for the repair or replacement of an additional 215 bridges across the state.

We will continue to keep you updated on issues and events in Jefferson City that impact ASA and the construction industry. Nikki Strong, Strong Consulting Group.