Missouri Chamber disappointed in veto of civil justice reform

Saturday, May 15, 2004

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry was extremely disappointed in Gov. Bob Holden's recent veto of HB 1304, civil justice reform that was given final approval by the General Assembly in late April after much debate and drama.

"We are very disappointed that the governor has chosen to ignore Missouri's employers -- including the medical community -- by vetoing this legislation, which is imperative to the economic vitality of our state," said Daniel Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. "Gov. Holden has chosen to place one of his largest political and financial supporters -- the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys -- ahead of health care and livelihoods of all Missourians."

Calling employers' inclusion in the civil justice reform bill as a "poison pill," Gov. Holden said he would only sign tort reform legislation that would apply to the medical community.

"The governor is sending the message that Missouri needs to establish two separate standards of the law -- one for doctors and one for all other employers," said Mehan. "That's unfair and unjust."

Many of the provisions to which the governor voiced objection in vetoing last year's legislation were removed from HB 1304.

"While lawmakers worked long to address the opposition the governor communicated in last year's veto message, he has proven that he is not sincere in finding any solution to this crisis," said Mehan.

Legislative leaders have stated they will work to override the veto. The governor is pushing lawmakers to attach a new proposal that just addresses medical malpractice to an existing bill, but considering the time lawmakers have already burned on this issue, that seems an unlikely option.

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