September Veto Session 2016
House and Senate Hold Successful Veto Session
Coming in to the annual Veto Session, the Missouri General Assembly had a total of 20 vetoed bills to consider for potential overrides. The legislature meets each year in September in accordance with the Missouri Constitution to consider bills approved by the legislature but vetoed by the governor. It is during the Veto Session that members of the House and Senate can come together to put legislation into effect as law despite the governor’s objections.
By the end of the day Wednesday, the House and Senate had each obtained the votes necessary to enact 13 vetoed bills into law. The total includes seven House Bills and six Senate Bills. The 13 overrides bring the total for the 2016 session to 15 overrides of gubernatorial vetoes. It was during the regular session that the legislature successfully overrode the governor on two measures he had vetoed. The House also attempted but failed on a third attempt at an override during the regular session.
As the day began, the total number of overrides in state history stood at 106, with 57 overrides completed on non-appropriations bills and 49 on budget line-items. Of that total, 84 of the 106 overrides had occurred under the administration of the current governor. With the totals from Wednesday added, the total number of overrides in state history now stands at 119, with 97 of those coming under the watch of Governor Nixon.
House and Senate Override Voter ID Veto (HB 1631)
The Missouri House began the day by overriding the governor’s veto of a bill that would require Missourians to show a photo ID in order to vote. The Senate then completed the override motion later in the day. The bill would implement a system of voter identification in the state if Missouri voters approve a constitutional change that is on the November ballot.
If the constitutional change is approved by voters, Missouri will then implement a system of voter identification. The bill that now becomes law would require voters to present a specified form of identification in order to vote in a public election. Valid forms of identification would include photo IDs issued by the state, the federal government or the military.
The bill also would require the state to pay for individuals to obtain a valid ID if they do not have one, or to obtain documents necessary for an ID. Additionally, the final version of the HB 1631 contains a provision that would allow a voter without a valid photo ID to vote with a regular ballot by showing another form of identification.
Supporters of the change say it is vital to efforts to protect the integrity of the election process. They say it is a simple matter of voters proving they are who they say they are before casting a vote so that voter fraud can be prevented.
Encouraging Investment in Employee-Owned Businesses (HB 2030)
The House and Senate also worked together during the Veto Session to override the governor’s veto of legislation meant to support and encourage employee-owned businesses. The bill creates a 50 percent income tax deduction for business owners who sell at least 30 percent of their companies to their employees.
Similar to legislation enacted in states like Nebraska and Iowa, the legislation is designed to give owners an incentive to keep their businesses in Missouri rather than sell them to out-of-state interests. In addition, the legislation will give employees greater stake in the operation of the company that employs them.
When he vetoed the bill, the governor said the cost of the tax break would be too much for the state to afford. However, House members came together in bipartisan fashion to override his veto as they said his projected cost to the state is unrealistic and inflated.
Protecting the Private Information of Missouri Farmers (HB 1414)
The legislature acted Wednesday to override the governor’s veto of legislation that would protect the information of farmers who voluntarily share their information with state agencies. Specifically, the bill exempts any data collected by any state agency under the Animal Disease Traceability Program, or any data collected for the purpose of animal health or environmental protection, from being disclosed under Missouri’s Sunshine Law. The legislation does allow the director of any state agency or the State Veterinarian to release this information if it is useful in controlling or preventing disease outbreak, or to show that certain animals are not involved in a disease outbreak.
Supporters of the bill said it is important to protect the private information of Missouri farmers who voluntarily share their information. They note that the protections do not stand in the way of safeguarding the public health because of the provision that allows the release of the information when a disease outbreak occurs.
Protecting Taxpayer Dollars (HB 1432)
The House and Senate voted to override the governor’s veto and enact legislation that will protect taxpayer funds from being wasted on ineffective government employees who are placed on paid administrative leave when they should be fired. The legislation is a response to abuses seen in a Missouri school district where several administrators were not fired but instead kept on extended paid administrative leave. To prevent such abuses from happening, the legislation that will now become law requires a hearing within 60 days of an employee being placed on administrative leave. The hearing will be utilized to determine if the employee engaged in misconduct. The bill also will require that an employee placed on administrative leave be provided with a written explanation of the specific reason for the placement within seven days.
Protecting Livestock Owners from Excessive Liability (SB 844)
Legislators took up and overrode the governor’s veto of SB 844 that was approved to clarify that an animal owner is liable for damages done by the animal to another’s property only if the owner has been negligent. Currently, if horses, cattle, or other livestock break through a fence and cause damages to another’s property, the owner is strictly liable. Even in cases when the fence is torn down or broken by someone else, the owner of the animals is still liable under current law. The change approved by the General Assembly will relieve the animal owner from liability for damages when the animals were released because of the actions or fault of another.
Lawmakers Vote to End Tax on Yoga and Other Instructional Classes (SB 1025)
The House and Senate voted to override the governor’s veto of legislation that ends a tax on yoga and fitness classes. The bill protects Missouri taxpayers and small businesses by narrowing what had been an overly-broad interpretation of the state’s entertainment tax. With the passage of the legislation, activities such as gym memberships and dance and yoga classes will no longer be subjected to the tax that was intended for items such as tickets for sporting events and amusement parks.
The change in law was necessary because of Missouri Supreme Court rulings that determined fitness clubs are places of amusement or entertainment. These decisions led to the collection of state sales taxes on the fees received by yoga and dance classes. The Missouri Department of Revenue then began auditing these small businesses and collecting years of back taxes.
With the override of the governor’s veto, the bill will now go into effect as law and clarify once and for all that fitness classes will not be subjected to the entertainment tax. Supporters say it is a common sense solution that will put a stop to the bureaucratic overreach made by the revenue department, and ease the tax burden on small businesses and all Missourians who have a gym membership or a child taking a dance class.
Strengthening Second Amendment Rights (SB 656)
As the Veto Session ran into the evening the Missouri General Assembly took up and approved an override of the governor’s veto of legislation to strengthen the the gun rights of law-abiding Missourians. The bill will now become law and allow Missourians to carry a concealed weapon without the need for a permit.
Commonly referred to as constitutional carry, the bill will allow any person to carry a concealed firearm anywhere that isn’t expressly prohibited by law. The bill is meant to build on the constitutional change made by Missouri citizens in 2014 that allows Missourians the right to permit-less carry.
The bill also will ensure that individuals who do want to obtain a five-year concealed carry permit will not be charged a fee in excess of $100. The bill will specifically prohibit additional fees that may be charged, including any fee for fingerprinting or a criminal background check. Additionally, the bill will allow Missouri citizens to obtain 10-year, 25-year, or lifetime permits for $200, $250, and $500 respectively.
The legislation also contains a provision commonly referred to as the “Stand Your Ground” law. The measure will remove the requirement that a person who is any place they are legally allowed to be can use force without retreating first. The bill will also expand the state’s castle doctrine law. Current statute allows individuals to use deadly force to defend themselves and their property against intruders. The bill approved by lawmakers will extend the protection against lawsuits to house guests who use deadly force.
Reducing the Tax Burden on Farmers Recovering from Disaster (SB 641)
The House and Senate also overrode the governor’s veto of legislation to allow a 100 percent income tax deduction for the amount of any income received as payment from any program that compensates agricultural producers who have suffered a loss as a result of a disaster or emergency. In effect, it will ensure farmers aren’t taxed on any disaster relief assistance they receive. Supporters said the change is necessary to protect the state’s number one industry by allowing farmers to benefit fully from the financial assistance they receive after an emergency or disaster.
Other bills that will now become law:
HB 1713 – Changes the makeup of the Clean Water Commission that is responsible for enforcing water quality standards in Missouri. The bill will allow the commission to have additional representation from the agriculture and mining industries.
HB 1763 - Changes the laws regarding workers' compensation large deductible policies issued by an insurer. The bill is meant to help taxpayers, save money in the state budget, and ensure that the insurance guarantee association gets the funds they have the right to receive.
HB 1976 - Specifies that a refund of a motor vehicle extended service contract will be paid to the person that paid the premium for the contract whether that be the consumer or a third party. The bill also enacts various consumer protection requirements to combat predatory practices from renegade towing companies.
SB 608 - Modifies several provisions relating to health care. The bill requires an $8 copay fee for Missouri HeathNet participants who use a hospital emergency room for nonemergency situations. It also would charge HealthNet participants a small fee for missing an appointment.
SB 994 - Allows the Missouri Wine and Grape Board to oversee and provide any professional or legal services on the distribution of wine to effectuate the Board's marketing goals. Also makes various changes to liquor laws in Missouri, including a provision to allow an individual to obtain a license to sell liquor on a boat licensed to carry 30 or more passengers.