Missouri lawmakers returned to Jefferson City this week for the General Assembly’s annual veto session, which began at noon on Wednesday and concluded less than 12 hours later, ending shortly before midnight. In total, the Legislature voted to override 10 vetoed measures. When added to Senate Bill 24 and House Bill 63, which were overridden during the regular session, the final count for the 2015 legislative session comes to 12 veto overrides. A successful veto override requires a two-thirds majority vote in each chamber.
Lawmakers overrode two bills pertaining to state employment laws: House Bill 150 and House Bill 722. Unemployment benefits are meant to be a temporary aide during times of economic hardship. When the state’s economy is strong and job creation is growing at a healthy pace, however, the number of individuals on unemployment should decrease. We know the longer an individual is unemployed, the more difficult finding a job becomes. The provisions of HB 150 will motivate individuals to find employment sooner, and help alleviate the financial strain on businesses, which are forced to pay a special tax to fund jobless benefits.
The Legislature overrode the veto of HB 722, prohibiting cities and counties from raising the minimum wage or providing employment benefits that exceed state or federal law. Any time the minimum wage is increased, businesses pass on additional labor costs to consumers by increasing the price of their goods and services. The last thing we want is a situation in which businesses in one community suffer because they keep losing customers to businesses located in a neighboring community that didn’t raise the minimum wage and can therefore continue offering affordably priced products.
Legislators also demonstrated their commitment to Missouri citizens by ensuring that the limited financial resources our state has set aside for college scholarship programs will be available for years to come. Under the provisions of Senate Bill 224, a student must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in order to be eligible to receive scholarship money from the A+ Schools Program.
Other successful overrides from this year’s veto session include:
· House Bill 618 regarding the disposition of human remains and the electronic vital records system;
· House Bill 878 relating to the licensing and commissioning of corporate security advisors by the Department of Public Safety;
· House Bill 1022 authorizing a return of premiums paid by insureds;
· House Bill 1098 allowing trust companies to operate under modern laws;
· Senate Bill 20 creating a tax exemption for materials and utilities used by commercial laundries;
· Senate Bill 142 requiring the Department of Natural Resources to prepare an implementation impact report when submitting certain plans to the Environmental Protection Agency; and
· Senate Bill 345 allowing lenders to increase the fee on loans lasting 30 days or longer from $75 to $100.
Finally, this year’s veto session was especially significant for me as my Senate colleagues elected me to the position of president pro tem of the Missouri Senate. This was truly a historic occasion, as I now have the honor of being the only legislator in state history to serve as both speaker of the House and president pro tem of the Senate. I am humbled and grateful knowing I have the trust and support of my fellow senators. From the beginning of my career in the Missouri Legislature as a state representative to serving as speaker of the House and, most recently, as the majority floor leader, I have always strived to serve my constituents and the people of Missouri to the best of my abilities. I will continue those efforts in my new role as president pro tem, working to grow a robust economy, creating jobs and ensuring that the Show-Me State continues to be a great place to live, work and raise a family.