Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Missouri Lawmakers to Face Fewer Bills in September Veto Session

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Missouri Lawmakers to Face Fewer Bills in September Veto Session

Article excerpt

JEFFERSON CITY * Gov. Jay Nixon's veto pen likely has a lot more ink than last year.

Tuesday marked the last day the governor, a Democrat, could act on bills sent to him by the Republican-led Legislature this past session. And by the end of the day, Nixon had vetoed just 18 bills, including "right to work," an attempted fix of the school transfer law and a measure banning cities from setting their own minimum wage.

Lawmakers are allowed a final say on the vetoed bills. The Republican-led Legislature will return to the Capitol in September for a chance to override the governor. Each chamber needs a two- thirds vote to do so 23 votes in the Senate and 109 in the House.

Nixon's vetoes this year were significantly fewer than last year, when he set his personal record 33 vetoes, along with about 120 line-item vetoes in the fiscal year 2015 budget.

But this year was an exercise in picking his battles, said Dave Robertson, a political science professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

"Some of these bills, right-to-work for example, are pretty big ticket bills and they will have a lot of confrontation," Robertson said. He added that Nixon's impending departure from office and the large Republican majorities likely have him feeling vulnerable.

Republicans control 116 of the 163 House seats and 25 of the 34 Senate seats, making them veto-proof in both chambers.

They already exercised that veto-proof majority during the session by overriding the governor's vetoes on two bills, including one that will shorten the time a low-income family can draw welfare benefits.

Also during the session, lawmakers got halfway through overriding Nixon's veto of a measure that would cut the amount of time an individual could collect unemployment benefits to 13 weeks from 20 weeks. The House voted to override, but the Senate did not bring the bill up before the session ended. Senate leaders have said they thought it could come up during a veto session. Their initial vote was 21-8, two shy of an override.

Some Republicans are hopeful they can overcome Nixon's veto on the controversial right to work bill, but it appears an attempted fix to the school transfer law is dead for the second year in a row. …

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