The Missouri Constitution requires that, each year, the legislature convene a “Veto Session” in September. The purpose of the session is for legislators to consider overriding any bills that are vetoed by the governor.
This Veto Session was a momentous occasion for my family and me, because I was sworn in as Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives. I was unanimously selected by my colleagues to serve as Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives, and sworn into that position on Wednesday, Sept. 12, to fulfill the unexpired term of outgoing Speaker Steven Tilley.
I owe a debt of gratitude and an immeasurable amount of thanks to all those who have supported me, counseled me, comforted me and advised me over the past many years. I especially wish to thank my entire family and the citizens of the 89th District and the new 110th District. Without your constant support, guidance, counsel and assistance, I would not be where I am today. I want to thank one and all for the humble opportunity to serve you in this role, to lead you, to walk with you, to that more promising tomorrow.
2012 Veto Session-Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012
General Assembly Overrides Bill Protecting Religious Rights of Employers (SB 749)
On Sept. 12, my colleagues and I joined the members of the Missouri Senate in overriding the veto of Governor Jay Nixon on a piece of legislation designed to protect Missouri businesses from the overreach of federal government.
The override motion was supported by both Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate. With the successful override, the bill now is law. The bill that was vetoed by the governor in July is designed to protect employers who have a religious or moral objection to providing a health plan that offers coverage for abortion, contraception or sterilization. The bill comes in response to a mandate contained in the federal health care overhaul that requires all employers to offer health care plans that include coverage for birth control. The mandate is one that would apply to even universities and hospitals with a religious affiliation.
When we passed SB 749 during the regular session we did so to protect these religiously-affiliated institutions from being forced to compromise the beliefs they hold sacred in order to provide coverage for services they find unconscionable. Some have confused this issue and tried to make it about denying individuals access to health care. This is simply false. The bill is about protecting the religious liberties upon which our nation was founded. The bottom line is that we want to allow employers and individuals to have access to health plans that do not conflict with their most deeply held religious and moral beliefs.
SB 749 protects religious institutions and families who want to buy insurance policies that are consistent with their religious beliefs. It upholds the religious liberties of all Missourians and makes certain that the law does not force anyone to pay for services they find to be morally objectionable.
No Action Taken on Vehicle Sales Tax Veto (HB 1329)
Leading up to veto session there was much discussion of a possible override of the governor’s veto on a bill dealing with vehicles sales tax. However, as the day of veto session came and went, the House made no motion to override the veto. The issue is one that has received a great deal of discussion as it is a very complex issue. The bill was passed during the regular session in response to a Missouri Supreme Court ruling that eliminated the ability of local municipalities to collect sales taxes on out-of-state and person-to-person vehicle sales, as had been the law for more than 60 years.
The ruling meant that many cities and counties would see a large reduction in the revenues they need to provide basic services. It also meant auto dealers in Missouri would be at a competitive disadvantage in comparison to those across the border. At the same time, it meant a reduced tax burden on Missourians who buy vehicles out of state or from a private party.
Ultimately, the House decided not to press the issue on this piece of legislation that would have once again allowed local municipalities to collect these sales taxes, as they have for 60-plus years. Instead, we will look to address this issue in the coming legislative session. As the new Speaker of the House, I hoped to address the issue even sooner and I called upon the Governor to convene a special session, but Governor Nixon has already indicated he has no desire to call us back to work on a fix for this problem that so adversely affects so many of Missouri’s small business owners. We will spend the remainder of the interim working on a solution that will protect taxpayers while also allowing our cities and counties to balance their budgets and our auto dealers to remain in business and competitive.
House Information and Legislation Online
A Big Win for Missouri Voters
On Sept. 5, a Cole County Judge ruled against Secretary of State Robin Carnahan’s biased ballot summary of a proposition that gives Missourians more control over the implementation of Obamacare. Proposition E amends Missouri law to require a vote of the people, or state legislature to establish a health insurance exchange in the State. Despite the proposition’s clear intent to define Missourian’s sovereignty over health insurance in the State, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan provided a biased ballot summary in an attempt to help Governor Nixon and President Obama implement a health insurance exchange in the state.
Last year, Governor Nixon began using Federal funds from Obamacare to create a health insurance exchange in Missouri. In a challenge of the governor’s authority to implement such an exchange, the state legislature, led by Sen. Rob Schaaf (R-34) passed SB 464 this year, which put Proposition E on the November ballot to give Missourians a final say on the implementation of Obamacare. On Sept. 5, a Cole County Judge ruled that Secretary of State Robin Carnahan’s summary of the proposition is not “a true and impartial statement of the purposes of the proposed measure,” and will not appear on the ballot.
The successful challenge of the summary, led by Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, ensures that voters receive fair, unbiased information on the ballot. This is a big win for all Missourians, as top Democrats have accepted the Judge’s ruling, and are shying away from the blatant misrepresentations of the initial ballot summary. In a revealing move, Democrat Attorney General Chris Koster has denied the Secretary of State’s request to file an appeal of Judge Greene’s ruling. Despite Carnahan’s pleas, Koster argued that “Judge Greene’s summary more accurately reflects the legislative intent than does the Secretary’s proposed language.”
Carnahan expressed disappointment that Koster had refused her request to file an appeal, and explained that her office could not appeal the decision on its own. Now that the biased summary has been thrown out, and Attorney General Koster agrees with that decision, we can focus on other issues our State and Country face.
Regardless of your political persuasion, I hope that you will take time to carefully consider Proposition E and the other initiatives we will be voting on Nov. 6.