Mo. Lawmakers Override Record Number of Vetoed Bills
JEFFERSON CITY - As lawmakers left the state Capitol early Thursday morning after a 12-hour long veto session, they took with them the record for the amount of vetoed bills overridden since the requirement for a two-thirds majority was implemented. The previous single year record was three overrides set in 2003.
House Majority Floor John Diehl, R-Town and Country, remarked as the House finished its business, "We made history today." While leaders in the Republican-led House and Senate cite the gross total of vetoes overridden as a success, Democrats are also calling the session a success based on the failure of two controversial bills that garnered national attention.
Lawmakers in the House first turned their attention toward a massive tax cut bill less than an hour after they began the veto session. HB 253 would have slashed income taxes for the first time in several decades, but some experts cited it could leave the state with a nearly $800 million hole in the state budget.
"I have a friend in Columbia who is a libertarian, very conservative CPA," says Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia. "And she says to me 'what are you people doing? This is the sloppiest thing I've ever seen.'"
Republicans cited the tax policy of several surrounding states including Kansas, saying Missouri needed to cut taxes to keep competitive for residents and businesses.
"I don't care how they good they say the economy is doing," said an animated Rep. Steve Lynch, R-Waynesville, as he yelled into the microphone and waived his arms about on the House floor. "There are businesses out there just holding on. They need this bill."
But in the end, the vote fell more than a dozen short of 109 votes needed to send the measure to the Senate. The final vote was 94-67 with 15 republicans falling out of party lines to vote against the veto override.
However, later on in the afternoon, House Republicans had a little better luck with the override of a controversial gun bill that would make it illegal to enforce federal gun laws in the state of Missouri. The bill garnered national attention as a measure that would nullify federal laws. While many called the bill unconstitutional, the measure did pass the House with the exact number of votes needed, 109-49. The vote was almost along party lines, but two republicans voted against the measure and three democrats joined the other 106 republicans to vote for the bill.
But that success wouldn't last long for HB 436. When the bill made it over to the Senate, it failed - getting just one vote less than the 23 needed to override the governor's veto and make the bill a law. Two republicans joined ten democrats in voting against the measure as it failed by a vote of 22-12.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about that vote is the two republicans who voted against the measure. Senators Tom Dempsey and Ron Richard were the ones who voted down the bill. Sen. Dempsey, R - St. Charles County, holds the top leadership post in the Senate - President Pro-Tem - and Sen. Richard, R - Joplin, holds the second leadership post - Majority Floor Leader. Opponents of the bill not only pointed out the constitutional problems, but also cited a component of the bill that would make it a crime to publish the name of a gun owner.
"My love of the Second Amendment doesn't trump my love of the First Amendment," Dempsey said after the vote in the Senate.
Dempsey also said the legislation needed to be crafted better. Richard had voiced his opposition to the bill earlier in the week, but no other republican senator voiced their opposition until the vote on Wednesday.
While two of the biggest priorities of the veto session failed, lawmakers still overrode a total of ten pieces of legislation the governor vetoed. A brief description of all the overridden vetoes are listed below:
House Bill 19 - Lawmakers overrode a line-item veto of $1 million to rebuild the Pike-Lincoln Technical Center near St. Louis.
House Bill 278 - Measure prohibits state or local government from preventing the celebration of a national holiday in a public setting.
House Bill 329 - Changes several laws regarding financial institutions, including a section allowing pay day loan companies to charge their customers more.
House Bill 339 - Requires uninsured drivers to forfeit recovery of some damages under certain conditions.
House Bill 650 - Caps the amount of punitive damages that The Doe Run Company of St. Louis can be forced to pay related to the company's old lead mining operations.
House Bill 1035 - Changes laws regarding political subdivisions including allowing annexation by a city without a public vote of residents in the area to be annexed.
Senate Bill 9 - Changes laws regarding agriculture including provisions to criminalize animal trespassing and allows foreign companies to by up to a percent of agricultural land in the state.
Senate Bill 110 - Restricts courts from changing parental rights of a parent on military assignment.
Senate Bill 129 - Exempts out-of-state health care workers from Missouri licensing requirements when providing volunteer services.
Senate Bill 170 - Allows a member of a local elected government body to cast a vote by video conference.
All the roll call votes from the House and Senate on every bill voted on during Wednesday veto session is available on the Missouri Digital News website. For all the House votes, click here. For the Senate votes, click here. For a look at a live feed from the majority Wednesday's actions by the House and Senate, follow MEvansReports on twitter.