Sen. Justin Brown’s Legislative Column for Sept. 17, 2020

Veto and Extra Sessions End

On Sept. 16, the Missouri General Assembly convened for a constitutionally required veto session. Before lawmakers were two statutory bills rejected by the governor and various line-item vetoes to the state’s 2021 operating budget. The House of Representatives voted to overturn one of the governor’s budget vetoes, but the Senate took no action on the motion. As a result, $11 million in budget cuts identified by the governor remain intact. As expected, the Legislature also chose not to challenge the governor’s vetoes of two bills intended to enact new statutes.

Many of the provisions of Senate Bill 718, a measure relating to veterans and military families, were also included in a similar bill, Senate Bill 656. With so many over-lapping measures, legislators saw no need to overturn the governor’s veto of SB 718. The primary difference between the two veteran’s bills was a provision to establish a cabinet-level Department of Military Forces. The governor observed that this provision could not proceed without a constitutional amendment, which the Legislature did not put forward. The governor rejected House Bill 1854, a bill relating to political subdivisions, because he said the measure’s 37 provisions did not all address the same topic, as required by law. The House of Representatives chose not to challenge the governor’s objection. With no bill sponsors willing to defend their legislation, the veto session ended quickly.

Following the brief veto session, both chambers reconvened to continue the extra legislative session called by the governor. Previously, the Senate had taken up and passed two House bills intended to combat violent crime in Missouri. Three other House bills were revised by the Senate and required further action by the House of Representatives. To the surprise of many, the House took no action on the remaining three anti-crime bills and abruptly adjourned. A half-hour later, the Senate followed suit and the first extra legislative session of 2020 came to a close.

As a result of the extra session, the General Assembly passed two measures that will become law. Public safety employees in the City of St. Louis will no longer have to reside inside the city limits now that House Bill 46 has passed. Widely supported by law enforcement, this change should help the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department attract new officers and bring the department up to adequate staffing levels so they’re better able to address rampant crime in the city. Another measure, House Bill 66, creates a “Pretrial Witness Protection Services Fund.” This fund eventually will enable law enforcement agencies to provide pretrial security for witnesses in criminal proceedings and ensure juries hear testimony that will help convict criminals.

During a press briefing held after the Legislature adjourned, the governor praised the two bills passed and declared the extra session a success. He promised to continue pushing for more legislation to address violent crime when the 101st General Assembly convenes in January. Lawmakers may not be done for the year, though. The governor suggested he may call the Legislature back into session again in 2020 to pass a supplemental appropriations bill.

It’s my honor to serve as your senator for the 16th District. If you have questions or need any assistance, please call my office at 573-751-5713 or log onto my webpage at for more information.