Representative Jim Neely's Capitol Report
As lawmakers returned to the State Capitol Building for a special session called by Gov. Parson, they also had constitutionally-mandated work to do in the form of the annual veto session. The Missouri Constitution requires the General Assembly to meet each year in September to consider bills that were vetoed by the governor. While in veto session, legislators have the opportunity to override the governor’s vetoes if they can obtain two-thirds majorities in each chamber to support the motion.
For the 2020 veto session, members of the House and Senate had two vetoed bills to consider as well as line-item vetoes in 11 appropriations bills. HB 1854, which dealt with local governments, was vetoed by the governor, who said it had too many subjects that did not relate to the original purpose of the bill. He also vetoed SB 718, which related to military affairs, saying it created a new department that could only be created with a constitutional amendment.
While House members chose not to override the governor’s vetoes on the non-appropriations bill, they did approve an override motion for one of the budgetary line-item vetoes. HB 2004 contained $140,000 in funding meant to compensate businesses for unexpected tax liability that had resulted from a reinterpretation of the tax code done by the Missouri Department of Revenue. The funding was vetoed by the governor who said the state would not pay for the costs incurred by taxpayers because of current economic conditions.
The House approved a motion to override the governor’s veto by a vote of 138-6. The member who made the veto override motion said, “I don’t believe for one minute that anyone in this body believes the government agency should be allowed to run roughshod over law-abiding citizens; wreaking financial havoc upon their businesses and their livelihood.” He added, “These shenanigans must be stopped. Let’s do just that by returning to the people of Missouri what is theirs.”
While the House approved the motion with a bipartisan majority, the veto override was not completed by the Senate. With that, the governor’s veto will stand.
In the history of the state, the legislature has successfully overridden 119 vetoes. Of those overrides, 49 have been on budget line-items and 70 have been on non-appropriations bills. Prior to the administration of Gov. Jay Nixon, veto overrides had been extremely rare with the legislature completing a total of only 22 overrides in its history. During Nixon’s eight years in office, the number of veto overrides increased dramatically as the Missouri General Assembly overrode 97 of his vetoes.
Missouri House Wraps Up Special Session Called to Curb Violent Crime
The special session called by Gov. Parson to address the rise of violent crime in the state has come to a close. The Missouri House of Representatives adjourned Sine Die Wednesday afternoon without taking up the final three bills called for by the governor. With the decision to adjourn, the legislature completed the session having successfully passed two bills requested by the governor to help bring down the rising homicide rate.
Gov. Parson has two bills he can now sign into law.
HB 66 is meant to strengthen efforts to protect witnesses so they can provide key testimony that will put violent criminals behind bars. It creates the Pretrial Witness Protection Services Fund, which will allow the Department of Public Safety to disburse money to law enforcement agencies for the purposes of providing for the security of witnesses, potential witnesses, and their immediate families in criminal proceedings or investigations. The funds are subject to appropriations from the General Assembly.
HB 46 is designed to help the City of St. Louis to fill the more than 140 open positions it currently has on its police force. The bill would eliminate the residency requirement for St. Louis law enforcement so long as the officer lives within an hour of the City. This proposal would also prohibit requiring any public safety employee for the City of St. Louis to be a resident of the City. The elimination of the existing residency requirement would last until September 1, 2023. Supporters say the bill is needed to put more “boots on the ground” to help the City address its rising homicide rate.
The House had originally passed and sent five bills containing the governor’s priorities to the Senate. However, the Senate returned three of the bills to the House with changes. The House then opted to adjourn rather than take up the modified bills that addressed the admissibility of witness statements and penalties for the unlawful use of weapons.
Following the conclusion of session, the members of House leadership issued the following statement: “The House today finished moving legislation requested by the Governor to combat the growth of violent crime in Missouri. We are excited to have passed several significant measures to provide additional resources for law enforcement officers and protect the witnesses against violent criminals. The House is committed to continue working with Governor Parson in the next regular session in our fight to reduce the occurrences of violent crime in Missouri.”
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, concerns, or suggestions you might have. As your Representative I am here to assist you however I can. I can be reached by email at Jim.Neely@house.mo.gov or by phone at 573-751-0246.