Veto Session Issues
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Veto Session Issues

Date: September 11, 2015
State Capitol Bureau
Links: The list of vetoed bills with votes and the governor's veto letters

JEFFERSON CITY - Labor issues and a business tax cut will be among the issues before Missouri's General Assembly when it convenes at noon on Wednesday, Sept. 16, to consider bills vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon.

Before state lawmakers will be 16 bills vetoed by the governor earlier this year. Several likely will not be brought up for a vote since they did not pass with the two-thirds majority that would be necessary in each chamber to override a veto.

The two labor bills vetoed by the governor have gotten the greatest attention with statewide campaigns for and against an override.

One bill would lower the number of weeks a person out of work could get unemployment compensation during periods when the state has a high rate of employment.

Under current law, a worker who has lost his or her job is eligible for up to 20 weeks of unemployment compensation.

The vetoed measure would reduce the number of weeks if the state's unemployment rate fell below nine percent.

One week of eligibility would be removed for each one-half percentage point below nine percent with a floor of 13 weeks if the unemployment rate is below six percent.

Missouri's Labor Department reports the unemployment rate was at 5.8 percent for the month of August -- which would mean a reduction in the maximum period for unemployment compensation benefits from 20 weeks to 13 weeks.

In August, more than 4,000 unemployed workers received the benefits.

The House overrode the governor's veto during the regular session in May.

However, Senate leaders chose not to shut off a Democratic filibuster to force a vote to override the unemployment compensation veto.

When the legislature adjourned without taking a vote, Nixon promptly declared that his veto had been sustained.

Nixon argued the state Constitution limits to the regular session any override vote of a veto made early enough for lawmakers to consider it before the session adjourns.

Republicans have disagreed.

The other labor issue is "Right to Work" would prohibit an employer from requiring a person to join a union or pay union fees to get or keep a job.

The measure cleared both the House and Senate short of the two-thirds majority that will be needed for an override.

Although Republicans command more than a two-thirds majority in both chambers, the measure has faced opposition from Republicans representing districts with significant labor membership.

About 20 percent of House Republicans and 16 percent of Senate Republicans voted against the measure.

The tax-cut measure is a retread of one of the several tax-cut measures Nixon vetoed last year.

The bill would provide a sales-tax exemption for large laundries for purchases of energy, equipment and supplies.

To be eligible for the tax exemption, the commercial laundry would have to process at least 30 tons of laundry per week..

Legislative staff estimate the measure would cost state government $1.5 million per year in the first full year of implementation.

In his veto letter, Nixon charged the tax break was unfair because it would provide a tax break that would not be provided to smaller commercial laundries and other types of businesses.

The bill's sponsor -- Sen. Will Kraus, R-Jackson County -- argued commercial laundries had enjoyed the tax break for several years until a recent court decision held that laundries were not covered by the existing sales-tax break provided to manufacturers for purchase of equipment and other costs.

A related tax issue before the veto session involves two bills that would impose a number of special fees on court cases to fund various projects.

In recent years, the legislature has imposed special fees on various court actions in various locations to fund courthouse improvements and retirement coverage.

In vetoing the bills, Nixon wrote that if extra funds are needed for these type of projects, they should be submitted to local voters for approval as a tax increase.

Before the legislature adjourned their regular session in mid-May, it had overridden two of the governor's vetoes. One imposes restrictions and limits on one of the state's major welfare programs, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The other bill, now law, prohibits a current or former school district superintendent from running for the district school board.

Unlike last year when Nixon made several "line-item" budget reduction vetoes, he did not make a single veto cutting the state's budget.

Lawmakers had passed the budget early enough in the session that they would have had the opportunity to vote to override any spending cut made by the governor.

The veto session can last only ten days, although usually lawmakers finish their work in two days.