Legislative Column for the Week of May 7, 2015


JEFFERSON CITY - The legislative process involves checks and balances. The governor may veto legislation passed by the General Assembly. But the General Assembly has the opportunity to override vetoes when an overwhelming majority of legislators feel that it is in the state’s interests to do so. Early this week, the legislature took the rare but important step of overriding a governor’s veto while still in session.

Sen. Schatz introduces Dr. John Heskett to the Gubernatorial Appointments committee as an appointee to the Children’s Trust Fund Board.

The first piece of legislation that the governor vetoed this year was Senate Bill 24, a welfare reform package that will require able bodied recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program  (TANF) to work, seek work or enter job training in order to retain their benefits - was delivered to the governor. The reforms in this legislation were originally allowed through bipartisan federal welfare reform in the 1990s. Missouri is one of the last states to adopt “workfare” requirements. Senate Bill 24 is an attempt to encourage recipients to attend job training and begin searching for jobs so they can better provide for themselves and their family.

I have spent a lot of time in these columns explaining why I support “workfare” reforms to welfare and I think most readers agree that this is simply a common-sense reform that encourages welfare recipients to learn job skills while getting a hand up from the state. The governor, unfortunately, did not agree. The governor stated one of the reasons he refused to sign the bill into law is the new work requirements, along with the shortened amount of time someone can claim the benefits.

The senate once again debated this issue when the veto override was brought before us. After about five and a half hours of debate on Monday night, the Senate voted to override the governor’s veto with a vote of 25-9. On Tuesday, the House also voted to override the governor’s veto and Senate Bill 24 became law.

We are now in the final two weeks of session. The last few weeks of session are always busy and there are many late nights of debate on the floor. The final fate of many bills is decided in the last two weeks of session and I will be working hard on transportation and employment issues until the final adjournment at 6 p.m., next Friday. I have enjoyed my new position representing our district in the state Senate, but I am looking forward to spending more time at home and in our community. 

Thank you for reading this weekly column. You can contact my office at (573) 751-3678 if you have any questions.