Governor Blunt has called for a special legislative session to convene Monday, August 20 th . The governor is calling on the legislature to address two issues: economic development and bridge improvement.
Blunt vetoed HB 327 , calling it large and excessive. His office said the bill would cost the state more than $200 million annually and included provisions the governor didn’t want. At the time of his veto, Blunt indicated he would be receptive to a request for a special session if a compromise could be worked out. In a conference call with members of the media, Blunt stated he and legislative leaders had reached a "necessary degree of consensus" to trigger the call for a special legislative session.
Many provisions have been taken out of HB 327, provisions such as a Neighborhood Assistance Program, a tax credit for Civil War site preservation, a small business tax credit, the Missouri Homestead Preservation Act, a domestic violence shelters tax credit and the Small Business and Entrepreneurial Growth Act. The Senate added those provisions during the legislative session and when negotiations between the Senate and House broke down, the House decided to accept the bill as amended by the Senate and send it to the governor. House leaders even admitted that the bill had problems, but they argued its benefits outweighed its shortcomings.
The governor had to swallow hard to veto the bill, because it contained one of his top priorities: an enhancement of the Quality Jobs Program. But Blunt, unlike House leaders, though the bill’s problems outweighed its benefits. He vetoed it and told lawmakers he would only call a special session if substantial agreement could be reached on a revised version.
Negotiations between the governor’s office and legislators have led to a much smaller version of the bill, what one sponsor calls, "The son of 327". It now will total $70 million a year when fully implemented. The bill does contain the top priority of the governor, a provision to raise the annual cap of the Quality Jobs Program from $12 million to $40 million.
One other issue will be placed before lawmakers during the special session. It will seek a change in state law to allow the Transportation Commission to move forward with its program to repair or replace 800 of the state’s worst bridges. State law now prohibits any contractor from obtaining the required bonds to finance the aggressive bridge program.
Blunt says he considered adding other issues to the call, but didn’t feel comfortable that adequate consensus had been reached on those other issues.