Members of the Missouri General Assembly returned to Jefferson City this week for the annual veto session, which officially convened at noon on Wednesday. By the time it wrapped up 10 hours later, state lawmakers had voted to override 13 of the governor’s vetoes.
While passing a bill during regular session only requires a simple majority, a successful veto override requires a two-thirds majority in each chamber, which comes out to 23 votes in the Senate and 109 votes in the House. The two measures on the minds of many Missourians heading into Wednesday were House Bill 1631, pertaining to voter identification, and Senate Bill 656, pertaining to firearms.
By a vote of 115-41 in the House and 24-7 in the Senate, legislators overrode the veto of House Bill 1631, which requires that all Missouri citizens wishing to vote must present a valid, non-expired form of government-issued ID at their polling location. As part of a compromise, HB 1631 permits any person who does not have a valid ID to sign a statement, under penalty of perjury, attesting to their identity; the voter may then present an alternative form of ID (e.g., a student ID) and cast a regular ballot. Any person who does not want to sign the statement may cast a provisional ballot. It also requires the state and all fee offices to provide free photo IDs and any underlying documents necessary to obtain an ID.
House Bill 1631 will strengthen the integrity of Missouri’s public elections while ensuring no eligible voter is disenfranchised. The measure will only take effect if Missouri voters approve its companion constitutional amendment, House Joint Resolution 53, at the polls on November 8.
We also overrode the veto of Senate Bill 656, a measure that aims to strengthen the Second Amendment right of all law-abiding Missouri citizens to keep and bear arms. Thanks to SB 656, Missourians will have the legal right to use deadly force in public spaces to protect themselves and their families from physical threats. It also enacts what is known as “constitutional carry,” enabling Missouri citizens who are legally allowed to possess a firearm to carry a concealed firearm without first having to obtain a state permit.
With the end of veto session, our legislative work in the Capitol is all but finished for the year; however, a number of interim committees will continue to meet until January. As we quickly approach the 2017 session, I encourage you to contact my office about any questions or concerns you may have with state government.
I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4008. You may write me at Gary Romine, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Jefferson City, MO 65101; or email me at email@example.com; or www.senate.mo.gov/romine.