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View from the Capitol by State Rep. Ed Schieffer

Posted on Tuesday, July 30, 2013 at 8:48 am

Ed Schieffer

Ed Schieffer

Once again, I would like to share some information on bills, which Governor Jay Nixon has either approved or vetoed.

Governor Nixon on June 28 signed into law the $24.8 billion state operating budget for the 2014 fiscal year but exercised his constitutional authority to withhold – at least temporarily — $400.7 million in spending authority pending potential action by the Republican-controlled General Assembly to override his veto of separate legislation that would significantly reduce state income tax collections.

Nixon’s preemptive budget action comes amid promises by Republican legislative leaders that they will seek to override the Democratic governor’s veto of HB 253, which would cut state income taxes for corporations and individuals and make other tax changes to reduce state revenue collections by at least $800 million a year once fully phased in. Nixon said he will release most of the withheld spending authority if his veto is sustained.

Republicans hold veto-proof majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives, but three House Republicans originally voted against the bill, and all 109 Republican House members would have to support a veto override to achieve the necessary two-thirds majority unless some Democrats, who generally opposed the bill, vote to overrule the governor. The General Assembly will convene its annual veto session on Sept. 11.

The frozen spending authority includes $184 million for various capital improvement projects, a planned $66.4 million increase to the formula for distributing state funding to local school districts and a $33.7 million spending boost for public colleges and universities. Nixon also exercised his line-item veto authority on appropriations bills to strike another $1.14 million from the budget. Unlike the withheld spending authority, the vetoed budget items cannot be restored unless lawmakers override the vetoes.

On July 1, Gov. Nixon vetoed a pair of bills that he said sought to solve non-existent problems by creating real problems for local governments. One bill, SB 265, would have prohibited the state or its political subdivisions from implementing a decades-old, non-binding United Nations resolution on environmental sustainability. The other, HB 278, would have barred governmental entities from restricting the celebration of any federal holiday.

“While the problems these bills ostensibly aim to fight are only imaginary, the headaches they could create for local governments would be very real and costly,” Nixon said in a news release. “The new and unnecessary mandates imposed by these bills would have infringed on the rights of local communities and prompted a flood of frivolous litigation.”

Gov. Nixon vetoed legislation on July 2 that would have established a statewide government database of workers’ compensation claims to which private companies would have access. Under existing law, such information is available to companies, but only under limited circumstances and subject to strict privacy protections, which the vetoed bill, SB 24, would have eliminated.

“There is a stark contrast between lawmakers’ rhetoric on the issue of privacy and their record,” Nixon said in a news release, referring to Republican complaints about the state’s efforts to verify the identity of driver’s license applicants. “While professing to champion privacy rights, this General Assembly quietly passed a bill to create – and allow broad access to – a new electronic database containing the personal information of hundreds of thousands of law-abiding Missourians. This misguided legislation would have invaded Missourians’ right to privacy by making their personal information available to employers on a government website without their consent. Invading Missourians’ privacy will not grow our economy or move our state forward.

SB 34 passed without dissent in the Senate on vote of 32-0. The tally in the House of Representatives was a more divided 91-67, with 16 Republicans joining unanimous Democrats in opposition.

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