JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The annual veto session began on Wednesday at the Capitol, as the Senators successfully overrode 10 of the 16 possible vetoed bills. Newly elected President Pro Tem Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said the Senate’s position was tough and unwavering, and the body remained committed to overriding the governor.
“We overturned some very important economic growth tools for small businesses yesterday. This included a stable minimum wage across Missouri and relief in unemployment insurance,” said Richard. “We made some tough decisions and worked hard during session to come up with long-term solutions to create and keep jobs in Missouri.”
The first bill overridden by the Senate was Senate Bill 224, sponsored by Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington. The bill requires a student to be a United States citizen or permanent resident in order to be eligible to receive reimbursements from the A+ Schools Program. Current program guidelines are unclear on how to handle students with unlawful citizenship status. This bill clarifies the guidelines and also brings the A+ Program’s citizenship requirements up to the same compliance level as Missouri’s other two scholarship programs: Access Missouri and Bright Flight.
“Increased demand to take advantage of the successful A+ Program was a contributing factor in the recent budgetary shortfalls for the program,” said Romine. “This is a tremendous program that was designed to improve our schools and provide a better education for the children of Missouri’s taxpayers. It’s important that these valuable resources are available for years to come.”
The Senate also successfully overrode veto on House Bill 150, handled by newly elected Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City. The measure modifies the duration of unemployment compensation by tying the number of weeks of unemployment benefits to the unemployment rate. The bill also contains measures to modify the method to pay federal advances and raise the trust fund cap.
“House Bill 150 is a smart, fiscally responsible move for Missouri that will help insulate the state from any future economic downturns,” said Kehoe. “By paying a little more in the good times, we will have more funds available during tough economic times instead of compounding our debt by borrowing from the federal government.”
Kehoe said even though there was some question as to the legality of the vote on House Bill 150, it was in the Senate’s right to do so.
“It is the Senate’s position that since the Missouri Constitution doesn’t ban a vote on such a bill after the end of the regular session that we do have the power to override it during the upcoming veto session,” said Kehoe. “This position is based on well recognized principles of constitutional law, the
Senate’s own precedent from past years and judicial case law.”
Also handled by Sen. Kehoe and successfully overridden is House Bill 722. The bill also prohibits a political subdivision from establishing, mandating, or requiring an employer to provide to an employee a minimum or living wage rate that exceeds the requirements of federal or state laws.
“Some of the decisions we have made today will level the playing field for businesses across the state. Companies can always choose to pay more, but we have created the state standard that gives those companies assurance to do business across Missouri,” said Kehoe.
The Legislature also successfully overrode Senate Bill 142, sponsored by Sen. Romine. The bill requires the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to take certain actions when submitting certain plans to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“For years now, the EPA’s overregulation has caused our state significant financial strain and affected the jobs and livelihoods of our citizens,” said Romine. “It’s time we take control of this bloated bureaucracy and their relentless pursuit of power, stifling policies and intrusive regulations.”
Also overridden by the Legislature:
- House Bill 618 – changing the laws regarding the disposition of human remains;
- House Bill 878 – specifying that the Department of Public Safety must have the authority to commission corporate security advisors and establishes procedures to do so;
- House Bill 1022 – authorizing a return of premiums paid by insureds;
- House Bill 1098 – changing the laws regarding trust companies;
- Senate Bill 20 – creating a sales and use tax exemption for materials and utilities used by commercial laundries;
- Senate Bill 345 – modifying provisions relating to financial transactions.
The Senate will next convene on Jan. 6, 2015. Senate Leader Richard said he will focus on new legislation for next year during the next few months.
“We want Missouri to be ‘open for business.’ We are here to create solutions to our state’s most pressing and complicated issues. We are committed to continue to work in a bipartisan fashion to move us forward next session,” said Richard.
To learn more about the vetoed bills, visit www.senate.mo.gov.