JEFFERSON CITY — Republicans regained a two-thirds majority in the Missouri House on Tuesday heading into a big showdown with Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon over his vetoes of tax breaks, abortion restrictions and other issues.
Republicans won two of the three special elections for vacant House seats. That will give them 110 House seats — one more than the two-thirds majority required to override vetoes. Republicans already hold a two-thirds majority in the Senate.
Republican Shawn Sisco, of Rolla, won in the 120th District while Republican Tila Hubrecht, of Dexter, won in the 151st District.
Democrat Alan Green, of Florissant, was leading in a special election for the 67th District.
The special election winners are expected to be sworn into office by Sept. 10, when lawmakers will convene to consider overriding Nixon's vetoes of 32 bills and 136 budget sections.
"We will put this supermajority to good use for the people of our great state," House Speaker Jones, a Republican from Eureka, said in a written statement.
The Legislature's September agenda includes the consideration of veto overrides on a series of bills granting tax breaks to particular businesses, which Nixon contends could bust a hole in the budget. Republican legislative leaders say the measures could help the economy while overturning what they describe as misinterpretations of tax policies by the courts and the Department of Revenue. Nixon said the numerous budget vetoes were needed because of falling state revenues and to guard against the potential for the Legislature to override his vetoes on the tax breaks.
Among Nixon's other high-profile vetoes are bills extending Missouri's one-day abortion waiting period to 72 hours and allowing specially trained teachers to carry concealed guns in public schools.
The special elections were called after incumbents resigned for a variety of reasons. Republican Rep. Jason Smith, of Salem, stepped down from the 120th District seat after winning a special election to Congress in June 2013.
The 151st District became vacant when Republican Rep. Dennis Fowler resigned in December to accept a Nixon appointment to the state parole board. The move ultimately left Fowler out of a job, because Republican senators refused to confirm his appointment while citing frustration that he had voted against a veto override of a tax-cut bill in 2013 and had deprived the GOP of its supermajority by resigning.
The special election in the 67th District was called because Democratic Rep. Steve Webb, of Florissant, resigned in December while facing charges of stealing and campaign finance violations.
Even after the special elections, several legislative seats will remain vacant. Nixon did not call special elections to replace two senators who he appointed to executive branch positions or to fill the 86th House District following Democratic Rep. Rory Ellinger's death in April.