Nixon signs Senate Bill 1; accompanying signing statement says bill ‘not without flaws’

Gov. Jay Nixon today — Oct. 21 — signed Senate Bill 1, which repeals a section of a bill passed by the General Assembly last spring and enacts a new section to address communications between school district employees and students.

In an accompanying signing statement, the governor said that although SB 1 eliminated particularly egregious provisions contained in SB 54, the new bill was not without flaws which could have been avoided with a more deliberative approach.

Nixon asked legislators to simply repeal the offending sections of SB 54. The governor said he wanted to work with legislators, teachers, parents and other stakeholders so that appropriate substitute language could be crafted in a more deliberative manner in advance of the start of the regular session in January.

SB 1 requires each school district to promulgate a policy directed at the use of electronic communication between staff members and students, rather than the substance of such communication. Districts also must draft their policies in a manner that will prevent improper communications.

The signing statement said that “school districts may find it challenging to promulgate a policy that erects adequate restrictions around the use of electronic media sufficient to prevent improper communications without also preventing otherwise appropriate communications.”

“Nonetheless … Senate Bill No. 1 is an improvement — primarily through subtraction — over … Senate Bill 54 … Senate Bill No. 1 is not perfect, but the alternative of educators having to conform to the unreasonable restrictions of … Senate Bill No. 54 is a far worse result,” the signing statement said.

“This bill is not as good as it should be, but to veto it would return us to a bill that would be far worse,” Nixon stated in a news release.