A veteran Democratic state lawmaker says he will continue to vote his conscience during Veto Session, noting the GOP has a veto-proof majority in the Missouri House.

Missouri State Capitol

Missouri State Capitol

The Veto Session starts September 14 at the Statehouse in Jefferson City. Republicans control the House 114-45-1. Outgoing State Rep. Tommie Pierson (D-St. Louis County) says that’s veto-proof.

“You know we (Democrats) don’t have much control over what happens in the House at any time, whether it’s veto session or regular session. So you just vote your conscience on bills and move on. Nine times out of ten you lose,” Pierson says.

The two most important issues to Pierson are the gun and voter ID bills. He will vote to sustain Governor Jay Nixon’s (D) vetoes on both.

On the gun bill, Pierson tells Missourinet there are “too many guns out here already”. He says while he owns a few guns, residents don’t need military-style weapons.

“I can’t think of any reason why ordinary citizens should have weapons of war. I mean, we’re not our own protectors per say,” Pierson says.

Governor Nixon vetoed the bill this summer, saying Missouri’s system for granting concealed permits has been in place for more than a decade and that it’s worked. The bill sponsor, State Sen. Brian Munzlinger (R-Williamstown) plans to seek an override during the Veto Session. Munzlinger tells Missourinet his bill allows law-abiding Missourians to protect themselves.

Pierson, the former Missouri Legislative Black Caucus Chairman, describes the voter ID bill as a “smokescreen”. Pierson says the bill would “severely curtail” voting rights of seniors in his urban district.

“Who may not have a photo ID, who may not have a valid birth certificate to prove that their name is what it’s been all of their lives,” Pierson says.

The Missouri House and Senate approved the voter ID bill in May, with veto-proof majorities in both chambers. Republicans, led by State Sen. Will Kraus (R-Lee’s Summit) say the measure will protect against voter fraud. Kraus will seek an override this month, noting the bill would originate in the House first.

Pierson is finishing his sixth year in the House, describing it as an honor and a “great ride”. Former U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-St. Louis) beat Pierson in the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor. Pierson has not ruled out a possible future run for office.

Pierson is the ranking Democrat on the Missouri House Higher Education Committee. He also serves as Pastor at the Greater St. Mark Family Church in St. Louis.