The Missouri General Assembly will reconvene in Jefferson City today to start the veto session.
The Republican-based legislature and Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon repeatedly bumped heads over approved bills during the 2014 legislative session. Gov. Nixon vetoed 33 regular House and Senate bills and made line-item vetoes to hundreds of spending items in the state operating budget. The exceedingly large number of vetoes positions the legislature for an extremely busy session where representatives and senators will carefully reconsider the merits of the bills previously approved.
While some bills are more controversial in nature such as the extended waiting period to obtain an abortion or the gun rights bill to allow properly-trained school faculty to serve as school protection officers, there are many others the governor vetoed that generated very little contentious debate among legislators. Examples are a bill like the one to encourage donations to food pantries and pregnancy resource centers, or legislation to allow SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) participants to use their benefits to obtain fresh food at farmers’ markets.
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The general assembly will also review the hundreds of line-item vetoes the governor made to items in the budget. Overlooking the budget, the governor vetoed new funding for reading programs for school kids, math and science tutoring, independent living centers, sheltered workshops, autism projects, newborn screening services, and for area agencies on aging. While the legislature could override some of the vetoed funds, there’s no guarantee they would be distributed out, since the governor can withhold funds.
State Rep. Linda Black, D-Desloge, has been looking over some of the vetoes that will be discussed again during the session.
“Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed a historical amount of bills in his tenure as governor,” said Black. “There are some issues that I initially have supported during regular session such as a tax credit for pregnancy resource centers and food pantries. That is needed in our local communities to help those citizens that need food and for those individuals in a crisis situation during a pregnancy. They need those resources to be able to provide to our community. In my opinion, it’s a bill that needs to be over-ridden and put into law.”
Black says there are some bills she had supported in the regular legislative session that for various reason she would not necessarily support an override.
“Maybe some new information has come to light regarding that bill or possibly it’s something that came from the governor’s veto letter made perfect sense that we need to revisit the issue fully and embed it in front of a committee again and take it back up during regular session,” said Black. “It doesn’t necessarily mean because I supported the bill in regular session that I will support it for an override, however, there are bills that I will support in override in veto session this week.”
There is some speculation that the Ferguson incident that occurred last month will have some sort of discussion among legislators during the veto session.
“It will probably be brought up one way or another through the general assembly regarding if there should be any changes to Missouri law dealing with that type of situation,” said Black. “Basically I think the main thing that stands out the most is the great deal of vetoes by the governor and we have been told rather the session being one day, be prepared to stay all week. That tells me that the majority party intends to bring up a lot of bills for override. The Republican Party has a super majority and now that the primary election is over and they brought in a couple of members in a special election, which puts them over the majority of 109 members, I think they’re going to exercise their ability to override with that super majority.”
State Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, is ready for the veto session.
“Well in the past veto sessions, they were just mainly to complete our constitutional duty,” said Engler. “You might have one subject or a couple vetoed, but this time we have numerous subjects vetoed that we’ll have to decide whether or not which bill veto should be overridden and which ones can’t be. It should be interesting. We have several subjects all the way from abortion to tax credits from food banks/pregnancy resource centers to confine deer and the hunting preserves, should they be regulated by conservation or by agriculture?”
Engler said a bill he sponsored during the regular legislative session will be looked at once more during the veto session.
“Are we going to do the tax credits for the pregnancy resource centers, food banks and maternity centers?” said Engler. “That’s kind of a big deal for our area and statewide. We’re arguing over what amounts to three-quarters of one-tenth of one-percent in the budget on a tax credit when the governor just a year ago asked for $1.5 billion for Boeing. I think we can do tax credits for 500,000 people, helping poor and starving families as well as pregnant women in Missouri whether then private business.
“I think it will be the longest veto session we have probably ever had, there’s just too many issues to discuss and everyone will be taking their time overlooking each veto and making sure we get what needs to be done.”
Engler said he has been flooded with emails and calls from various people about all the different topics that will be discussed during the veto session. He said he has been very busy trying to get ready for the upcoming session which starts today. However, the representative says he will continue to check his email and write back each person, time permitting.
The veto session at the capital in Jefferson City will begin sometime this afternoon after new members elected in the primary election are sworn in at 11 a.m.
Korey Johnson is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3616 or Kjohnson@dailyjournalonline.com