Senate votes against overriding veto on student curator bill
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Senate votes against overriding veto on student curator bill

Date: September 10, 2008
By: Emily Coleman
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Senate voted to sustain the governor's veto on a bill that would give a student curator voting rights on the UM-System governing board if Missouri had lost a congressional seat due to the 2010 census.

Senators rejected the veto override 16-17 during the veto session Wednesday. A 2/3 majority in both the Senate and the House was needed to override the veto made by the governor in June.

Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, sponsored the bill that originally passed in the Senate 31-2.

The bill passed 100-47 in the House where it was sponsored by Rep. Bryan Pratt, R-Jackson County, and was co-sponsored by six representatives including Rep. Jeff Harris and Rep. Judy Baker, two of the Democratic representatives from Columbia.

The UM-System Board of Curators has one non-voting student curator who is appointed by the governor and serves a two-year term.  The current student curator Tony Luetkemeyer is a law student at the Columbia campus. The next student curator, who will be selected from the Rolla campus, will begin their term in January 2009.

"The only people who thought this is controversial are the board members and the governor," Graham said on the floor of the Senate.

Graham was not surprised that the motion failed.

"It's tradition," he said. "Members of the governor's party don't vote against their governor."

The last time the Missouri Legislature overrode a veto was in 2003. 

Even though no one rose to speak in objection to the motion, Sen. Mike Gibbons, R-St. Louis County, said, "This summer there's been quite a bit of objection raised. The Board of Curators were very concerned about that."

As a result of the upcoming 2010 census, Missouri could potentially lose a congressional seat if population shifts across the U.S. This could maintain the number of curators without removing a curator from their position. 

The governor used this as a reason to veto the bill stating, "the makeup of the board is unclear if Missouri does not lose a congressional district after the 2010 census, but does so in a later census."

Some of the objections raised by the curators and the governor include it is not applicable to all Missouri state universities; a 2-year limit doesn't give the student a chance to be well-informed on the issues and a student is too young to have the necessary leadership skills.

"In addition to these objections, this legislation is also fiercely opposed by many members of the higher education community who also expressed the above concerns and more through correspondence, phone calls and conversations with me and my office," Gov. Matt Blunt stated in his explanation for vetoing the bill.

When reached by phone, Curator David Wasinger would not comment on the bill or any of the concerns.

"I thought those were some legitimate concerns, and the issue itself with those concerns didn't rise to the level of an override," said Gibbons, who is running for attorney general. Gibbons was one of several Republicans who switched from his earlier yes vote.

In the only speech concerning the bill Wednesday, Graham went through the objections.

"They're (the curators are) happy to take the tuition checks, my colleagues, and cash them," he said. "But they don't even want to meet with the students, to consider whether a student, who is already on the Board of Curators ought to have the right to vote."

Various versions of this bill have been brought to the floor every year since 2002 except in 2004. This is the closest the bill has coming to being made into law.

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