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House Republicans meeting in Kansas City to discuss veto session

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With the primaries safely behind and a supermajority in both chambers once again secured, Missouri Republicans are meeting in Kansas City for their summer caucus to focus efforts on overriding a number of Gov. Jay Nixon’s vetoes at the upcoming veto session in September.

Much of the focus will be on Nixon’s vetoes of a series of bills he has dubbed the “Friday Favors.” The bills were all passed on the final day of session in the usual whirlwind of activity and they all provide tax breaks — in one form or another — to a range of different businesses.

Nixon has spent much of the summer drumming up support for his vetoes on the bills in a campaign that largely mirrors last year’s long fight to preserve a veto of a Republican income tax cut bill. Barnstorming around the state, Nixon’s fight will be about sniping at least one of the 110 House Republicans from the herd.

In the House, Republicans need lockstep unity to override vetoes and, to that end, Assistant Majority Leader Mike Cierpiot, a Lee’s Summit Republican, has been charged with circling the wagons.

Asst. Majority Leader, Mike Cierpoit
Asst. Majority Leader, Mike Cierpiot

When it comes to policy overrides, like the Friday Favors, or the gun bill, or the infamous abortion waiting period legislation, Cierpiot’s job is to distribute talking points and rebuttal information to members feeling the most pressure.

“I mostly want to make sure that people have the information they need to go home and look over and make up their own minds,” Cierpiot said. “Governor Nixon is working very hard to stir the pot with local government folks with some information that is just plain exaggerated or false, and we want to make sure we are prepared to rebut that.”

Cierpiot said that some of the “Friday Favors” bills would be overridden, but said there were some caucus concerns on a small number that could keep them from becoming law. He also noted that several of the bills will have to be overridden in the Senate before moving to the House.

Last year, Republicans overrode 10 of Nixon’s vetoes, a state record, but fell short in defeating Nixon’s veto of a sweeping income tax cut. The failure caused public rifts within the caucus and resulted in primary challenges for a handful of the votes to sustain. All of those incumbents successfully won their primaries last Tuesday and will arrive in Kansas City tonight for the Party’s statewide caucus newly emboldened.

But this year is also different for Republicans, most notably in that a few victories in Tuesday’s special elections gives them a supermajority in both chambers. But having exactly the number of votes you need to override without a single to spare hasn’t added to the pressure to beat Nixon, Cierpiot said.

“I think it just means we’re more likely to get some override votes,” Cierpiot said. “But our caucus, as was displayed last year, doesn’t walk in lockstep. We’re a diverse caucus and there are members with districts much different than mine, so I can’t necessarily say I feel more pressure for more than 100 people to agree.”

Along with the tax, abortion and gun bills, there were over 100 budget items vetoed by Nixon. Deciding which of those can be overridden is a job for House Budget Chairman Rick Stream, who just won the Republican nomination for St. Louis County Executive.

With more than 30 gubernatorial vetoes and a slew of line-item budget vetoes, Cierpiot said he would be “very surprised” if this year’s special veto session lasted only one day.

“There’s just a lot to get through, a lot of bills to look at, a lot of information, and I think those conversations are about to get louder now that the primary is over,” Cierpiot said.