Veto puts lawyers ahead of health

Saturday, May 15, 2004

To the editor:

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry was extremely disappointed in Gov. Bob Holden's veto of House Bill 1304, which would have provided much-needed civil justice reform for Missourians.

For the second year in a row, the governor has chosen to ignore Missouri's employers -- especially the medical community -- by vetoing this legislation. 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 a "poison pill," Holden said he only would sign tort reform legislation that would apply to the medical community. In doing so, 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. That is 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 and hard to address the opposition the governor communicated in last year's veto message, Holden continues to block the issue from passage, now presenting a narrow, polarizing proposal in the final days of the session -- a proposal assured of failure. Holden's action has proven that he is not sincere in finding any solution to this crisis.

DANIEL P. MEHAN

President and CEO

Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Jefferson City

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