Legislators reconvened at the Capitol on Wednesday, Sept. 10, for the annual Veto Session, which gives lawmakers the opportunity to override any bills vetoed by the governor. In years past, these sessions were often very short, lasting no more than a few hours, at most. However, times are changing. The governor is frequently using his executive powers to strike down numerous bills each year. Last year, we overrode a total of 10 bills, a historic number.
This year the governor vetoed a total of 34 bills, and slashed core parts of the budget through line-item vetoes. It set the stage for what was a very eventful veto session, culminating with 57 overrides—10 bills and 47 line items—setting a new record.
Heading into this veto session, one of my main priorities was overriding the veto of House Bill 1132, which I handled in the Senate and was identical to a bill I sponsored. The measure increases the cap on Pregnancy Resource Center, Food Pantry and Maternity Home tax credits.
There are more than 50 pregnancy resource centers located around Missouri that offer valuable services to women with unplanned or crisis pregnancies. These charitable organizations offer guidance, emotional support, and often provide expectant mothers with baby clothes, car seats, and other must-have items for a new parent.
Food pantries also play a critical role in our communities. I’ve heard from countless food pantries that are struggling to meet demand. This tax credit would go far in assisting them carry out their worthy goal.
Another piece of legislation I was happy to see overrode was House Bill 1307, which increases Missouri’s current 24-hour waiting period for abortions to 72 hours. This bill provides an extra 48 hours for women to consider a very permanent decision.
Within this waiting period a woman will still receive information about the development of her unborn child and about the methods and risks of abortion. A mother also receives information about adoption and has the opportunity to view an ultrasound and hear the heartbeat of her child.
In addition, the Legislature addressed the more than 100 line-item vetoes enacted by the governor in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget. Many of those cuts were aimed at education, mental health facilities, services for disabled individuals and the elderly, and other valuable programs. A priority for this veto session—among members of both caucuses—was restoring this much-needed funding.
All told, the General Assembly overrode 47 line-item vetoes, reinstating funds for independent living centers; alternative to abortion services; tutoring programs for struggling students; regional autism projects; the expansion of newborn screening services; home-delivered meals for the disabled and elderly; a rural health clinic dental pilot project; and forensic medical exams for children suspected of having been physically abused. We also overrode a line-item veto that transfers more than $2 million to the State School Moneys Fund, reaffirming the Legislature’s ongoing commitment to education.
With the end of veto session, our legislative work in the Capitol comes to a close for the year. However, interim committees will continue to meet until January. As we quickly approach the 2015 session, I encourage you to contact me about any issues you might have with state government.
I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions, and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at 573-751-4008. You may write me at Gary Romine, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Jefferson City, Mo. 65101; or email me at email@example.com; or www.senate.mo.gov/romine.
This report was filed Sept. 12.