House Members Set to Return for Annual Veto Session
As mandated by the Missouri Constitution, the General Assembly will meet Wednesday, September 13 to consider bills that were passed by the House and Senate but vetoed by the governor. The annual Veto Session gives legislators a final opportunity to enact their ideas into law despite the governor’s objections. In both chambers, a two-thirds vote is required to override a veto. In the House that amounts to 109 votes. Twenty-three votes are needed in the Senate to successfully complete an override motion.
During the administration of the previous governor, Veto Session often saw a flurry of activity. Last September, the House and Senate worked together to override gubernatorial vetoes on 13 pieces of legislation. The 2016 Veto Session activity brought the total number of veto overrides in state history up to 119. Prior to the administration of Governor Jay Nixon, the total number of veto overrides in Missouri history stood at 22. In total, the legislature managed to override the governor 97 times during his eight years of service.
Heading into Wednesday it appears unlikely that the legislature will add to the veto override total as the new governor and the current General Assembly have worked together on most of the issues addressed in 2017. The current governor’s veto totals are far lower than those of his predecessor as well. Of the bills sent to his desk by the legislature, Governor Greitens vetoed only one House Bill, one House Committee Bill, one House Concurrent Resolution, and two Senate Bills. He also issued line item vetoes in three appropriations bills.
HCB 3 – In the final moments of the 2017 legislative session House members approved a bill that would have created the Senior Services Protection Fund to preserve several services for the elderly and disabled. The move represented a last-ditch effort by the House to preserve nursing home and in-home care services for some of Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens.
In the days leading up to the conclusion of the session, House and Senate members had worked to find a solution that would keep the vital services intact. The House had passed a version of the bill that would end the renter’s portion of the senior citizens property tax credit in order to generate funds that would be used to protect the existing level of service. The Senate countered by passing a version of the bill that would raise the funds by “sweeping” the unexpended monies from several state funds associated with regulatory boards and commissions.
The House initially rejected the Senate’s plan and sought a conference where lead negotiators could work on a compromise. The House Budget Chairman was concerned that the Senate solution involved one-time dollars and would not represent a long-term funding source. He also raised concerns about the constitutionality of the Senate’s language. However, with the Senate being unwilling to negotiate and the need to preserve the services vital, the House opted to take the Senate plan as time ran out.
The governor then took action to veto the bill calling it a “one-time gimmick” that drained funds from programs to prevent child abuse and neglect, assist injured workers, and to train police officers and firefighters. “I put money in the budget to protect the most vulnerable Missourians. The House did their job. The Senate failed. This was a clearly unconstitutional, last-minute budget gimmick. I won’t sign an unconstitutional, one-time, fake fix to a real problem,” said Governor Greitens.
HB 850 was approved by the General Assembly to change the law regarding military complaints against a commanding officer in the National Guard. Under current law, a member of the National Guard may file a complaint against his or her commanding officer with the governor or the Adjutant General. The bill approved by the legislature would have limited the filing of a complaint to the Adjutant General.
The governor vetoed the bill with the belief that the Missouri National Guard’s Commander-in-Chief should remain engaged in assisting guardsmen.
HCR 19 – The General Assembly passed HCR 19 to authorize the issuance of public bonds for half of the financing of a new conservatory building at UMKC. The legislation would have allowed the issuance of $48 million in state bonds over 10 years for the $96 million project.
The governor vetoed the bill saying it was too costly to taxpayers. The governor said it was wrong that the bill would fall on Missouri families to pay.
House Appropriations Bills (HB 5, HB 6, HB 9) – The governor line item vetoed an appropriations line in HB 5 for MOHEFA debt service and all related expenses associated with the Kansas City
Music Conservatory project bonds. The veto was consistent with his veto of HCR 19.
The governor also vetoed $2,659,260 in HB 6 that was allocated for the State Environmental Improvement Authority Fund (SEIA). In vetoing the funds, the governor said the majority of the funds in the SEIA Fund should not be considered state resources located in the state treasury.
In HB 9, the governor line item vetoed $35.5 million allocated to the Inmate Canteen Fund. In issuing the veto, the governor said the funds are in a specifically named fund that is separate from the general revenue fund.
SB 65 – The legislature approved SB 65 to exempt vessels propelled by outboard jet motors and vessels not originally manufactured with adequate guards or railing from the provisions prohibiting passengers from riding in certain areas of a boat.
In vetoing the bill, the governor noted that SB 65 would have allowed passengers to ride on the bow and gunwales of boats with outboard jet motors and boats that were not originally manufactured with adequate guards or railings. The governor also pointed out law enforcement officers expressed serious concerns that removing the safety measures would cause a spike in injuries and deaths on larger waterways with more boats and more dangerous water conditions.
SB 128 – The House and Senate approved SB 128 to modify various provisions regarding criminal offenses, the Attorney General, the Department of Revenue, child support and custody, trusts and estates, guardianships, judges, court surcharges, court reporter fees, and victims of crime.
The governor vetoed the bill saying it raises constitutional concerns, creates troubling inconsistencies in state law, and could negatively impact Missouri taxpayers. He noted that the bill was originally conceived as a measure to modify a single provision regarding judicial proceedings, but the final bill spans 77 pages and impacts unrelated issues in 68 statutory sections.
I want to make sure that you know that my door is always open to you if you have any questions, concerns or comments. You are always welcome to visit, call or email me. My office telephone number is 573-751-1456 or you can email me at Rebecca.Roeber@house.mo.gov. My office address is MO House of Representatives 201 West Capitol Avenue Room 102 BA. To sign up for my capitol report please email me.