September 1, 2014

Updated funeral protest law now in place

Missouri now has an updated law to ban protests at funerals in the state – one that is based on law that has withstood a challenge in court.

Representative Stanley Cox (courtesy; Missouri House Communications)

Representative Stanley Cox (courtesy; Missouri House Communications)

Missouri law already required protesters to stay 300 feet away from a funeral from an hour before the start and end of the services, but struck down in court was a provision that banned protests along funeral processions. The law that took effect Thursday removes the language regarding processions.

“The Eighth Circuit [Court of Appeals] decided that language was over broad and unconstitutional,” says House sponsor of the new law, Stanley Cox (R-Sedalia). “I guess the idea being that a procession might be rather extensive in a community and what you were doing was you were limiting the First Amendment privileges in too broad of areas.”

Because the law deals with when protesters can exercise speech, it must be written specifically to what courts have upheld. Cox doesn’t think Missouri law can go further.

“I probably think that we have adopted here that is the most restrictive as can be against those people who might try to disturb a funeral,” says Cox. “I would not encourage the General Assembly to tinker with it because quite frankly if they went further they might jeopardize the entire law.”

The new law maintains penalties of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500 for first-time offenders, and up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine for repeat offenders. It also adds to Missouri statutes a definition of protests.

Dairy industry, rural lawmakers confident of veto overturns on ag, captive deer bills

State lawmakers that backed two big agriculture bills in the regular session believe they will have enough votes to override Governor Jay Nixon’s (D) vetoes of those bills.

Representative Casey Guernsey (center) discusses the ag omnibus bills passed in the 2014 session, joined by Representative Bill Reiboldt (image left) and Senator Mike Kehoe.  (courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Casey Guernsey (center) discusses the ag omnibus bills passed in the 2014 session, joined by Representative Bill Reiboldt (image left) and Senator Mike Kehoe. (courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Nixon vetoed the legislation because it would remove control of captive deer in private hunting operations from the Department of Conservation and put it under the control of the Department of Agriculture. Nixon says that would “clearly” violate the state Constitution.

Dairy industry backers are among the biggest proponents of the veto override because those bills contain provisions to subsidize federal margin insurance and to provide scholarships to the study of dairy production at a Missouri college. It would also direct the University of Missouri to annually study of the state’s dairy industry and create a plan for growing it.

Missouri Dairy Association President Larry Purdom says those provisions will help keep dairy producers in Missouri and keep dairy prices in the state low.

“I have gone to Springfield’s sale barn for the last three years and witnessed my neighbors with tears in their eyes selling their cows because they could not pay their feed bills,” Purdom told reporters Thursday. “It’s pretty hard to live through that not think that they deserve better than they have had since 2009.”

According to the Association Missouri had 1,890 dairies in 2004 and that number is down to 1,233.

The bills passed the Senate with enough support for a veto overturn but were short of the 109 needed in the House, receiving tallies of 101 and 105 “ayes.” Representative Casey Guernsey (R-Bethany) says the votes for an override will be there when lawmakers take up those measures during the veto session September 10.

“I’ve been working on this since July with my colleagues,” says Guernsey.

He says he expects to pick up some votes from lawmakers that were absent when the House initially passed the bills and others from lawmakers who originally voted against them.

The bills are SB 506 and HB 1326.

Speaker not worried about veto session support of members who outlasted Sinquefield-backed opponents

There are again 110 Republicans in the Missouri House after a special election in two districts that coincided with the August Primary. That would be enough to overturn vetoes during September’s veto session, but only if all Republicans are in the Capitol and if all of them vote for the overturn.

That could prove to be a big “if,” according to House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka), who says he’s only really concerned about unforeseen circumstances.

“It is difficult any time to get 110 people in the same place at the same time,” says Jones. “You never know when people are going to have tragic events in their family or that may affect them personally. We hope everyone remains healthy. We hope no one has any serious family issues that come up. We hope no one gets stuck … we had some members that got stuck because of travel in years past.”

Some members who are term-limited out of office at the end of the year might also not want to drive from far reaches of the state for the veto session, particularly if there isn’t a bill or two of particular concern for them or their districts.

Then there is the question of four members who faced primary opposition backed by financier Rex Sinquefield, who had voted against the override of a veto on a tax cut bill – a bill that Sinquefield wanted to become law.

Those four representatives told Missourinet’s Bob Priddy that they are somewhat upset with the party over that situation, but did not say it would impact how they will vote in the veto session.

Bob’s stories with four Republicans who beat Rex Sinquefield-backed primary opponents:

The Four:  Sinquefield tried to buy seats in the House (AUDIO)

The Four:  time for campaign reform (AUDIO)

Jones says he met with those four members during the party’s caucus earlier this month. He says he does anticipate having their votes.

“I absolutely do,” says Jones. “I welcomed them back and congratulated them. They’re on the team. They’ve always been on the team and I don’t think that will be a problem at all.”

Jones says as far as he knows, all lawmakers want to return for the veto session to override Governor Jay Nixon’s vetoes.

“The General Assembly has shown leadership on so many issues this past session – on budget, on appropriate spending, on education, in health care reforms, on education reforms, on tax cuts,” says Jones.

The veto session begins September 10.

Earlier story:  House Speaker discusses possible veto overrides on budget items, tax policy bills

House Speaker discusses possible veto overrides on budget items, tax policy bills

Governor Jay Nixon (D) vetoed a record number of bills from the 2014 legislative session, but the Republican-led legislature will attempt to overturn many of those vetoes according, to the House Speaker.

House Speaker Tim Jones (left) and House Budget Committee Chairman Rick Stream (right) address the media following the 2014 State of the State Address.  (Photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

House Speaker Tim Jones (left) says House Budget Committee Chairman Rick Stream (right) is working with Democrats to determine what budget line item vetoes might be targets for veto override attempts. (Photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

House Republicans have held their August caucus and discussed what vetoes they will and won’t attempt to override. Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) says he believes many of the 95 line-item vetoes Nixon made in the budget will be targets.

“Budget Chairman Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood) is currently in negotiations with the minority caucus to find out if we can perhaps even just reach a general consensus on whether we should override all 95 of those vetoes,” says Jones.

Nixon says the legislature sent him a budget in May that was out of balance and didn’t account for some of the legislation it had passed, so he vetoed more than $144-million from it. Jones says his caucus disagrees, and that will fuel the veto override attempts.

“We believe that the budget that we passed was fully balanced,” says Jones, “and that the governor, through his constant playing of shell games with the budget, his constant attempts to make education the lowest priority of his administration by always attacking the education budgets, we just feel that all that was extremely unfair to Missourians, to our school children, to the senior programs that he has vetoed.”

Jones says his caucus also disagrees with the governor’s assessment of ten bills he vetoed, that he says contained more than a dozen tax breaks for special interests and would reduce state and local revenue by more than $776-million annually.

“The governor has really put out some horrible misinformation bordering on complete fabrication as to the fiscal impact of this legislation,” says Jones. He says each of those bills will be examined in the veto session.

“Many of them will likely be ripe for an override,” says Jones.

Jones this month learned that his caucus would have two more members, giving it the 110 Republicans necessary to be able to overturn vetoes without the help of any Democrats, if all House Republicans show up and vote together.

Jones discusses whether he expects that to happen in our story with him for Monday.

The legislature’s veto session begins September 10.

Comment time running out on deer farming regs (AUDIO)

Tomorrow is the deadline for Missourians to comment on the Conservation Department’s new regulations for farmers who want to raise deer.  But an important political decision could make the regulations moot.

The legislature will consider next month whether to override the Governor’s veto of a bill transferring regulation of deer farming from the Conservation Department to the Agriculture Department.  Conservation says it’s not assuming the veto will stand as it solicits comments about new regulations  that requires fences deer can’t jump over, improved record-keeping when the deer are shipped, and mandatory testing for chronic wasting disease for deer that die in captivity.

Department deputy director Tim Ripperger says testing is needed “to get a better handle” on Chronic Wasting Disease, which attacks the animal’s nervous system and is always fatal, in captivity and in the wild. “We did find it in a facility in north-central Missouri and the wild herd where we found it has been  …within two miles of that captive facility,” he says.

He’s not saying the disease originated in the captive facility.  But halting the spread of the disease is so important that the new rules ban captive deer operations within 25 miles  of places where CWD has been found.

The regulations also ban the importation of live white-tailed deer, mule deer, and their hybrids from other states being in captive cervid operations.  The rules require fences that deer can’t jump over and space between double fences to keep outside deer from touching noses with impounded deer. It bans captive deer operations with 25 miles of any place where CWD has been confirmed.

Comments should be sent to the Secretary of State’s office by tomorrow although the department will keep taking them for a while longer.

AUDIO: Ripperger 5:56