Record number of vetoes overridden; gun and tax-cut bills both put to rest

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 | 10:22 p.m. CDT; updated 8:04 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 12, 2013
The Missouri legislature met Wednesday to consider override votes on Gov. Jay Nixon's vetoes of legislation from the 2013 session.

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri General Assembly overrode a record number of vetoes Wednesday during the annual legislative veto session.

By midnight, when the House finally adjourned, the General Assembly had overridden 10 of Gov. Jay Nixon's vetoes. As a result, laws went into effect that made it illegal for local governments to restrict federal holidays, increased liabilities for uninsured motorists, made it possible for members of public bodies to vote by video teleconference and capped the punitive damages the Doe Run lead-mining company could be forced to pay.

How the Boone County delegation voted in the House

HB19: Appropriations bill (vocational school) 112-47

Yes: Jones, Kelly, Rowden, Webber, Wright

HB253: Tax-cut bill 94-67

Yes: Jones, Rowden

No: Kelly, Webber, Wright

HB278: Federal holidays 114-45

Yes: Jones, Rowden

No: Kelly, Webber, Wright

HB329: Financial institutions 109-51

Yes: Jones, Rowden

No: Kelly, Webber, Wright

HB339: Motorist insurance 109-51

Yes: Jones, Rowden

No: Kelly, Webber, Wright

HB436: Guns 109-49

Yes: Jones, Rowden

No: Kelly, Webber, Wright

HB611: Employment, 107-54

Yes: Jones, Rowden

No: Kelly, Webber, Wright

HB650: Doe Run, 110-50

Yes: Jones

No: Kelly, Rowden, Webber, Wright

HB1035: Political subdivisions. 117-44

Yes: Jones, Rowden, Webber

No: Kelly, Wright

SB9: Agriculture. 111-50

Yes: Jones, Rowden

No: Kelly, Webber, Wright


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Despite the record number of vetoes, three of the most contentious bills were put to rest. House Bill 253, a tax-cut bill that has received the most attention of any bill passed during the session, came up 15 votes short of an override in the House. And a hotly-debated gun bill, HB 436, that would have made it illegal to enforce certain federal gun laws was rejected in the Senate after passing the House.

A bill that would have made it easier for people who committed sexual offenses as minors to eventually be removed from the sex-offender registry was briefly discussed before the motion to override was withdrawn.

Vetoes that were overridden in both houses and will now become law:

  • HB 19 appropriates funds to help rebuild a vocational school in Pike County.

    The veto was overridden in the House by a vote of 112-47 and in the Senate by a vote of 28-5.

  • HB 278 prohibits any state or local government from banning or restricting the practice, mention, celebration or discussion of a federal holiday. The veto was overridden in the House by a vote of 114-45 and in the Senate by a vote of 24-9.
  • HB 329 prohibits funeral trusts from affecting a person's eligibility for public assistance, increases the maximum fee a creditor can charge on a loan and makes other changes to financial institution law. The veto was overridden in the House by a vote of 109-51 and in the Senate 25-9.
  • HB 339 enacts a "No Pay, No Play" law that requires uninsured motorists to forfeit recovery of noneconomic damages under certain conditions. This restriction does not apply if the insured driver in the accident is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The veto override passed in the House 109-51 and in the Senate 26-8.
  • HB 650 caps the punitive damages that Doe Run can be forced to pay. “This company is destroyed if we don’t take action,” Sen. Dan Brown R-Rolla, said during the Senate discussion. “We want to see an opportunity for the Doe Run company to invest more in the area.”  The veto override passed the House 110-50 and the Senate 26-8.
  • HB 1035 modifies provisions relating to taxation and political subdivisions;
  • SB 9 modifies provisions relating to agriculture, including allowing some foreign ownership of agricultural lands and allows MU Extension Council to form Extension districts made up of cooperating counties;
  • SB 110 establishes procedures to follow in child custody and visitation cases for military personnel; and

  • SB 170 allows members of public governmental bodies to cast roll call votes in a meeting if the member is participating via videoconferencing.

  • SB 129 establishes the Volunteer Health Services Act to allow for licensed health care professionals to provide volunteer services for a sponsoring organization.

Boone County legislators spoke out about the actions at the Capitol on Wednesday and were already looking ahead to the new session.

Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, made the first motion to override of the day in the House on a line-item veto in an appropriations bill to help fund a vocational education school in Pike County.

“A vocational education school today with no computers is no vocational education school,” he said.

After the House had debated all of its bills, Rep. Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, said he was disappointed with the actions of the House.

“It’s a rough day over all,” he said. “About what I expected, but it's still hard to watch.”

When asked about the future of tax reform, Webber said funding schools was his priority.

“We need to find a way to fund the schools, and until the schools are fully funded, I don’t think we should be looking for ways to cut corporate taxes," he said.

Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, kept quiet about how he would vote on HB 253 in the weeks and days leading up to the veto session and had received pressure from UM System leaders to support the veto, but he voted to override.

“Ultimately, that was the vote that represented the majority of my district,” Rowden said. He said people that called or sent letters and emails to his office were about 60 percent in favor of overriding the tax-cut measure.

He said he was looking forward to taking up tax reform in the new session and that he had been talking with MU officials and the local Chamber of Commerce and would possibly come up with a proposal of his own.

“Let's keep the dialogue going. If this wasn’t the right solution, we need to find the right one,” he said. “I’ve been keeping bridges open with people on the other side.”

Rowden said he was open to generating new revenues if income taxes were also reduced.

Webber and Rep. John Wright, D-Rocheport, both spoke strongly against the Doe Run bill, arguing it was a form of special legislation crafted to protect a single company.

“This bill is not about jobs, this bill is just about money,” Wright said. “What message does filing and passing this bill send to the families (that have filed claims against Doe Run)?”

Nixon weighs in

Gov. Jay Nixon held a press conference at 5:30 p.m. to trumpet the rejection of HB 253 and pointed to a “growing bipartisan coalition” against the legislation, but suggested he was open to tax reform.

“(HB 253) would have cost too much, and the benefits it offered were dubious,” Nixon said.

He said that he would release the most significant portions of funding that he had frozen in response to passage of the tax-cut bill, including money for the UM System and mental health services.

“I will move expeditiously and quickly to get those dollars out to the community,” Nixon said.

The governor said he was open to tax reform, so long as it was directly tied to job creation, was affordable and tax-credit reforms were also on the table.

“I’ve not closed my eyes or my mind to sitting down and having a thoughtful discussion about it,” he said.

Nixon said that some of the bills being debated by the legislature were more about politics than about serious lawmaking.

“My sense is there has been a shift to more of a political discourse than a governing discourse,” he said. “The measures left tonight have significant political overtones to them.”

Supervising editor is Gary Castor.

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