WHAT OTHERS SAY: Volume of vetoes speaks to poor legislation

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 | 11:39 a.m. CDT

Gov. Jay Nixon's more than 30 vetoes are evidence of the value of having a politically split General Assembly and administration.

Those vetoes also appear to be evidence of a legislature that has spent too much time cooking up bills to satisfy a right-wing fringe and too little time studying the ramifications of their actions.

The veto list ranges from the highly controversial, such as the Second Amendment Preservation Act and the Tax Relief Act, to the largely overlooked, such as a bill that, in part, modifies provisions relating to motorcycle brake lights.

Fortunately for Missouri, the governor and his staff have spent more energy than the legislature making sure each bill does not include unintended consequences, unexpectedly hurt citizens or mean the state would face costly and unwinnable court challenges.

That is something the lawmakers need to spend more of their time doing. With one of the largest state legislative bodies and longest sessions in the country, it seems that they should be able to put a little more thought into the laws they put forward.

Nixon's veto statements provide numerous examples of legislative failures.

One bill intended to deter minors from using fake IDs to get on gambling boats actually reduces the penalty instead of strengthening the law. A bill that intends to remove the requirement for foster parents to submit fingerprints every two years fails to consider the fact that fingerprints are already electronically stored — and this bill illegally includes a second purpose, relating to custody and visitation for military personnel.

A bill that seeks to prevent uninsured motorists from suing an insured motorist after an accident actually creates more problems than it solves because it fails to define "uninsured" or clearly state what kind of lawsuit it addresses. That could send the state to court, instead.

One bill includes a provision that would limit how much agricultural land in Missouri could be owned by foreign interests but failed to allow for a public hearing. And another provision creating the office of "animal trespass" inadvertently holds a farmer or pet owner accountable even if the animal never leaves its own property.

A bill addressing DWI courts conflicts with another law. Bills seeking state funds, including one for Springfield, do not comply with state law.

Some of the vetoes reflect conflicting points of view regarding the rights of the state's citizens.

A bill that would create a lower level of sex offender, intended to protect juveniles, goes too far by not considering the level of offense or the rights of victims. ...

The worst example is the so-called "Second Amendment Protection Act" that ignores another part of the U.S. Constitution — the Supremacy Clause that clearly states that federal law is the law of the land, even Missouri.

Granted, some of Nixon's vetoes are likely to end up with some serious and legitimate debate during the veto session in September. State income tax and workers' compensation criteria are likely candidates.

While we look forward to that healthy debate, we hope that the next General Assembly avoids another embarrassing slew of vetoes that mostly point to its own failures.

Copyright The Springfield News-Leader. Distributed by the Associated Press.

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