Legislature’s veto session hands Nixon historic defeat

Lawmakers override 47 budget cuts

By Missouri Digital News staff

JEFFERSON CITY — State lawmakers handed the governor the largest number of veto overrides in any year of Missouri’s history.

In total, 47 budget cuts were overridden along with overrides of 10 non-budget bill vetoes during a one-day veto session on Wednesday, Sept. 10. The income-tax bill veto had been overridden during the regular session last spring.

The 58 overrides far exceed the previous annual record of 12 veto overrides in 1833.

Legislators of both parties said Gov. Jay Nixon’s defeats were an indication of a governor disengaged with the legislators and the legislative process.

“The reports of his disengagement have reached legendary status,” said GOP Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles County. “It’s time to be an active participant instead of making a policy statement and then disappearing for five months and then reappearing for the next six while we’re out of session.”

Some legislators predicted the governor would simply use his constitutional authority over the budget to block release of money for the vetoed items which the General Assembly had overridden, as Nixon has done in the past.

In addition, the attorney general’s office wrote the Senate a letter concluding that the Legislature did not even have authority to vote on budget overrides during a veto session; that veto sessions are restricted to vetoes of non-budget bills.

While the bulk of the governor’s veto overrides involved budget cuts, many of his tax-cut vetoes he had championed were sustained.

Only two of the vetoed tax bills he had attacked as special-interest tax breaks were overridden. They did not carry large price tags: The administration put the price tag for the two at just $300,000 per year for state and local governments out of the $776 million for all ten bills.

Among the non-budget vetoes were some of the most controversial issues before the 2014 legislative session involving guns and abortion.

The gun bill would let schools authorize teachers to carry firearms on school grounds after training. It also would ban housing authorities from prohibiting guns in tenant residences and ban cities from prohibiting those with concealed weapons from openly carrying their firearms.

The abortion measure would extend the current waiting period for an abortion after contacting a doctor from 24 hours to 72 hours. The vote came as small protests on both sides of the issue rallied at the statehouse earlier in the day.

The Senate vote on the abortion override required approval of a rare motion to shut off a Democratic filibuster around Wednesday’s midnight hour.

There was a historic irony to the vote. The last time the Senate voted to shutdown a filibuster was in 2007.

That, too, involved an abortion-related bill. It was sponsored by Sen. Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, whose son, Todd Scott, now serves as the chief aid to the Senate’s president pro tem and helped in laying the groundwork for the 2014 motion.

Except for measures with a delayed effective date, an overridden vetoed bill takes effect 30 days after the legislative override vote.