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19 September 2011

Stouffer: Legislature Considers Governor’s Vetoes

The Missouri General Assembly’s annual veto session came and went with little controversy. Unlike Washington, D.C., Missouri’s leaders of both parties seem to work well together to help move the state forward.

This year, the annual veto session coincided with a special session called by the governor, which began on Sept. 6, 2011.

The governor vetoed 14 bills this year, six from the Senate and eight from the House. Three of my proposals were up for possible consideration:
  • Senate Bill 3, requiring voters to provide photo identification at the polls. The Legislature approved the measure as a way to secure elections. The governor felt the mandate put an undue burden on the disabled and elderly, although there were provisions in the bill to address these concerns.
  • Senate Bill 118, extending the amount of time long-term care facilities had to install sprinkler systems. The governor saw the sprinkler mandate as a way to prevent devastating fires at these homes. When the original deadline was approved, a state loan program was established to help cover the costs. It was never funded. Unfortunately, this mandate may mean an eviction notice for some Missourians living in facilities that cannot afford to be retrofitted with sprinkler systems.
  • House Bill 430, making several changes to the state’s laws regarding transportation and putting $76 million more on Missouri’s roads annually. This bill also repealed an outdated law prohibiting folks from entering into the business of helping others move out of their homes. Believe it or not, the state must approve the current need for such a business to start in a certain area. The governor feared provisions relating to billboards in the same bill did not provide local governments with the authority to regulate outdoor advertising, although protective language for local cities was in the bill.
It is not easy to override a veto. Perceived controversy in any piece of legislation often leaves leaders with the option of staying with the status quo. It takes a two-thirds vote in both the Senate (23 votes) and the House (109). According to Article III, Section 32 of the Missouri Constitution, lawmakers have 10 calendar days to consider legislation returned to the General Assembly by the governor. A bill changing the state’s congressional boundaries was vetoed and overridden earlier this year. The last time the Legislature attempted a veto override during its annual veto session was in 2008.

I look forward to my continued work with the governor and leaders of both parties in the current special session. We have made some strides on legislation we have been asked to consider and have used the extra time to identify waste, fraud and abuse in the array of tax credits provided by the state.

After this special session is complete, lawmakers will go back to their homes and prepare for the next regular session, which will start in January.

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