Republicans hold a supermajority in the House, but still need Democrat support to overturn the vetoes of some legislation in the veto session that begins today.
The key issue to be debated is HB 253, that would cut Missouri income taxes. Governor Jay Nixon says it would blow a hole of 800-million dollars or more in the state’s budget. Some Republicans have said they will vote to sustain the veto, meaning Democrat votes are needed if it will be overturned.
House Assistant Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty (D-Kansas City) says she doesn’t think Republicans will get them.
“To my knowledge there aren’t any.”
Nixon says that legislation is the reason for much of the 400-million dollars he withheld from the budget depending on whether the veto would stand. Beatty says if that veto is not overturned, her caucus will call on the Governor to release some of that money, particularly in education. She says House Democrats have had no conversations with the Governor’s office about whether or not he will release that money.
Beatty thinks her caucus is more divided on whether to support HB 301, legislation that would change the state’s sex offender registry.
“There is some merit to the bill but it also has some challenges to it. There is some concern that possibly there may be a loophole that may let some violent offenders out, so there are definitely some concerns, but I think there are a few that are actually supporting it.”
Beatty says she expects some House Democrats will vote to overturn the veto of legislation that seeks to nullify federal gun laws in Missouri and make it a criminal offense for law enforcement to enforce them, but she doesn’t know how many.
The Doe Run lead mining company based in Herculaneum has been lobbying for the overturn of a veto on HB 650, that would cap punitive damages in lawsuits filed against it for contamination. Proponents say the overturn would protect thousands of jobs at the company and related businesses.
Beatty says she has concerns with that bill, and with the company.
“They need to be punished for the bad acts that they’ve done. I think that bill is probably unconstitutional, as well as others that we’re dealing with over veto session. It’s just not proper for us to come in and try to legislate when there are already legal cases in progress.”
Beatty thinks in spite of the company’s lobbying there has been little movement in the number of lawmakers that support the bill. It received 94 votes in passing the House. 109 would be needed to overturn the veto.
Rumors are flying about how many of the 29 bills vetoed by Governor Nixon the Republican supermajorities will bring up for override attempts. Beatty says she knows all of them be brought up and it’s hard to know the difference between word that will happen, and the proverbial “blowing of smoke.”
“We also have to remember that we are spending taxpayers’ dollars and I think we need to be realistic about that and deal with those bills that are top priority.”
The veto session begins at noon today.