Missouri lawmakers returned to Jefferson City this week for the General Assembly’s annual veto session, which began at noon on Wednesday and concluded 10 hours later. In total, the Legislature voted to override 13 vetoed measures. When added to the two bills overridden during the regular session, the final count for the 2016 legislative session comes to 15 veto overrides. A successful veto override requires a two-thirds majority vote in each chamber. After this week’s veto session, Missouri’s governor has now been overridden 96 times during his eight years in office.
By a vote of 24-6 in the Senate and 112-41 in the House, state legislators overrode the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 656, a comprehensive, common-sense measure that seeks to expand and strengthen the Second Amendment right of all law-abiding Missourians to keep and bear arms. Among other provisions, SB 656 modifies Missouri’s “duty to retreat” requirements to allow persons not engaged in unlawful activity to use deadly force to protect themselves in public areas as well as on private property. It also enacts “constitutional carry” in Missouri, enabling individuals who are legally allowed to possess a firearm to carry a concealed firearm without having to first obtain a permit. Through SB 656, we are giving law-abiding Missouri citizens the legal right to defend themselves and their families whenever, and wherever, necessary.
We also voted to override the veto of Senate Bill 1025, which clarifies that instructional classes like dance, gymnastics, karate, aerobics, etc., are exempt from state sales tax. For years now, the Department of Revenue (DOR) has been taking heat from businesses and legislators regarding their tax collection efforts, which many feel exceed the department’s authority. Whether for adults or children, instructional classes provide great opportunities for learning and exercise, and those are two things that should always be encouraged, not discouraged through taxation. Senate Bill 1025 not only protects our small business owners and saves Missouri taxpayers money, but also sends another clear message to the DOR that state lawmakers will continue pushing back against government overreach.
Lawmakers also demonstrated their commitment to bringing greater integrity and fairness to Missouri’s public elections — the cornerstone of our democratic process — by overriding the governor’s veto of House Bill 1631. The measure requires voters to provide a valid photo ID at the polls. Examples of valid IDs include a non-expired Missouri driver’s license or non-expired military license. Voters without a valid ID may vote a regular ballot by signing a statement, under penalty of perjury, attesting they are who they claim to be. If no statement is signed, a voter can still vote provisionally. As part of a compromise to ensure no eligible voter is disenfranchised, the state and all fee offices will be required to provide a free photo ID to any voter who does not possess one and any underlying documents necessary to obtain it.
House Bill 1631 will help prevent in-person voter fraud, ensure Missouri voices are heard and give our citizens confidence in the election process. The measure will only take effect if Missouri voters also approve House Joint Resolution 53 in November.
Other successful overrides from this year’s veto session include:
Senate Bill 608, permitting Medicaid providers to charge a missed appointment fee to MO HealthNet participants that must be paid before another appointment can be scheduled with that provider;
- Senate Bill 641, creating an income tax deduction for Missouri’s agricultural producers who received federal disaster payments to help cover losses from a severe 2012 drought;
- Senate Bill 844, providing that the owner of any livestock that breaks through a fence or trespasses onto another’s property is only liable for damages sustained to another’s property if the animal owner was negligent; and
- Senate Bill 994, modifying several provisions relating to alcohol, including the Missouri Wine and Grape Board, liquor sales on a boat and selling alcohol through mobile applications, among others.
Finally, the Missouri Senate sought to honor the history of the Senate by unveiling a brand new Senate President Pro Tem composite in a ceremony held prior to the start of veto session. Featuring the names and pictures of a majority of the nearly 80 Missourians who have led the Senate since 1820, the composite is a way to help make the history of the Missouri Senate come alive. As the current President Pro Tem, I am honored to be counted among those featured on the composite, which will hang outside the office of the Pro Tem at the Missouri State Capitol.
Also unveiled this week was the official portrait of my esteemed friend, former Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey. For 17 years, Sen. Dempsey ably served the residents of St. Charles County. During his time in office, he diligently worked to improve the Show-Me State and make it a great place to live, work and raise a family. Sen. Dempsey has been an inspiration to us all, and it was my great pleasure to honor him and his family by unveiling his portrait for all Missourians to see. His portrait will hang in the Pershing Gallery, in the Hall of the Senate President Pro Tem.
I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2173. You may write to me at Senator Ron Richard, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, 201 W. Capitol Ave., Rm. 326, Jefferson City, MO 65101; e-mail me at email@example.com or visit me on the Web at www.senate.mo.gov/richard.