Every year, the Missouri General Assembly (or the Missouri Legislature, as it is also known) passes bills intended to become law and every year, inevitably, the governor vetoes some or many of those bills. This varies, depending on who is governor and who is in the Legislature. For example, two years ago, the governor set a record by vetoing 29 bills (along with four line-item vetoes to the budget). He bested that effort last year by vetoing 33 bills, along with about 120 line-item vetoes in the budget. The governor continued this trend this year by wielding his veto pen against another 22 bills passed by lawmakers. While the governor pads his record numbers, the Missouri Senate and House, unsurprisingly, continue to set records for veto overrides. In fact, we’ve overridden this governor more times in one year than any previous governor in their entire term. Two years ago, we overrode 10 of 33 vetoes and 47 of 120 line-item vetoes and last year, we overrode 10 vetoes. That may not sound like a lot, but consider that prior to 2013, the Legislature had overridden only 12 vetoes since Missouri became a state in 1821 and for 120 years — 1855 to 1976 — no vetoes were overridden at all.
This may be a good time to give a brief overview of how vetoes fit into the legislative process. To pass a bill, a constitutional majority (at least 51 percent) of legislators have to vote for it. The bill then goes to the governor, who can either sign the bill into law or veto it, effectively sending it back to the Legislature. There is another seldom used method by which a bill can become law and it occurs when the governor lets a bill become law without his signature. It’s sort of his way of saying he isn’t thrilled about the bill but isn’t going to use his position as governor to try to stop it from becoming law. That leads us to the annual veto session, which takes place on the second Wednesday in September every year. At this veto session, the General Assembly meets in the State Capitol to decide whether to override the governor’s vetoes or let the veto stand. To override, two-thirds of the members of both the Senate and the House have to vote to do so. That equals 23 votes in the Senate and 109 in the House. Although there are notable exceptions, with a Legislature comprised of a supermajority from one party and a governor from another, most override votes fall along ideological lines.
That certainly looks to be true this year when you consider what bills will likely come up at veto session. First is Senate Bill 656, a broad, pro-Second Amendment bill that — among other things — would make “Constitutional Carry” legal in Missouri and put “Stand Your Ground” into state law to allow you to protect yourself and your family. A lot has been written about this bill, much of it false or completely devoid of fair description. Let me set the record straight about how I feel about it. As an elected official, I firmly believe I must represent the views and express the will of the people I serve. To do otherwise would be a betrayal of the trust placed in me. To put it simply, I won’t be a legislator who tells their constituents one thing and does another. My votes will be consistent with the promises I made even when I am faced with intense pressure from outside my Senate district or outside the state. As far I am concerned, any opinions or viewpoints outside our area are irrelevant and will not influence my vote. With this in mind, it should be noted the letters, phone calls, and emails I have received about this bill are overwhelmingly supportive of constitutional carry and SB 656. Combine this with my voting record and my own views on the Second Amendment and it is clear that voting for SB 656 is the vote most representative of the people I serve and my own beliefs. I strongly support SB 656 and will be voting to override the governor’s veto.
Another hot-button veto the General Assembly will likely tackle is House Bill 1631, or —as it is better known —photo ID or voter ID. This is a measure that would require voters to show a photo ID before voting to prove they are who they say they are. It seems obvious that proving voters are lawfully registered and lawfully reside in this state is essential to protecting the integrity of elections. Not to some, apparently. Specifically, our governor doesn’t think the integrity of our elections is in jeopardy or else he wouldn’t have vetoed the bill. Opponents of voter ID must have missed the recent episode in St. Louis where, in a primary race for a House seat, one candidate lost to another by a mere 90 votes. What’s significant about the 90-vote difference is that the margin of victory came solely from absentee votes. It is highly unusual for such a disparity as absentee votes typically line up pretty close with the votes that come in on election day. The candidate who lost then filed a lawsuit claiming that at least 280 people voting absentee did not qualify for an absentee ballot. We don’t know how this episode is going to turn out, but make no mistake about it, voter fraud is a very real problem and threat and there is no conceivable reason why Missouri doesn’t have voter ID other than political posturing. The concept is simple. Voters could present one of many types of ID including a Missouri driver’s license, non-driver’s license or any ID issued by the U.S. armed forces to prove they are eligible to vote. To ensure that no one will be adversely affected, the state would provide — free of charge — a driver’s license or state ID to anyone who doesn’t already have one. This effort requires two different steps before becoming law. First, the voters have to enshrine voter ID in the state constitution. They will have the opportunity to do just that in November by way of an amendment the Legislature put on the ballot. Secondly, lawmakers have to pass legislation that outlines exactly how voter ID would work and that is what House Bill 1631 does. So, if we don’t override the governor’s veto of HB 1631 and the voters approve voter ID at the ballot (which I fully expect they will), it still wouldn’t go into effect. That is why this veto override is so important. I’ll be voting for voter ID because I believe the people I represent support it and I because I believe it is the right thing to do.
As I make the decision to vote on these vetoes and others, I would appreciate your input. I truly value the opinions and concerns of the people I have the privilege of representing in Jefferson City. Please feel free to comment on any vetoes, which can be viewed at: https://governor.mo.gov/news/legislative-actions.
As always, I welcome your ideas, questions and concerns about Missouri government. You may contact me at the State Capitol as follows: (573) 751-1480, firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to Sen. David Sater, Missouri State Capitol, Room 419, Jefferson City, MO 65101.