In the weeks following the legislative session, the focus switches from the General Assembly to the governor, who must veto or sign bills we approved before the constitutional deadline. Last week, the governor finished taking executive action and you can see all the bills signed or vetoed by the governor at www.governor.mo.gov/actions.
The governor vetoed a handful of measures, including Senate Bill 749, legislation that would have protected the religious freedom of Missouri employers and employees regarding the imposition of certain health care services, such as abortion and contraception. This was a high-profile bill that received bi-partisan support in the Senate. Both sides worked together to craft legislation that everyone could live with and would protect the religious freedoms of Missourians. The governor, however, vetoed the bill anyway. We will try to override the governor’s veto during the annual veto session in mid-September. Overriding a veto requires a two-thirds majority vote.
Among the measures he signed into law was Senate Bill 689. The legislation, which I sponsored, adds undue influence—defined as using authority over an elderly or disabled person to take unfair advantage of that person—to the types of acts that constitute the crime of financial exploitation. The change was necessary to shore up existing law, which covers those who use intimidation or force to exploit the elderly or disabled, but not those who use their influence. This bill will increase protections for the elderly and disabled in our state. It will take effect on Aug. 28.
He also gave approval to Senate Bill 599, which contains a provision that allows money from the Doe Run lead company settlement to go to schools in the counties actually affected by the contamination, including Washington, Iron, Reynolds and Jefferson counties.
This change was necessary because of the way the school foundation formula is written. Under the formula, the money that was supposed to go to these schools would have been considered “local effort,” which was originally intended to prevent towns from giving out extra speeding tickets and having the ticket money go to the schools. If the settlement money was classified as local effort, it just would have offset money the school receives from the state. Basically, it would have been a wash, and the schools wouldn’t get the money they rightfully deserve.
With the governor’s signing of SB 599, those schools will now get their fair share of the settlement. Rep. Paul Fitzwater and I worked hard to get this measure passed, and I would like to thank him for his critical support.
Other legislation I sponsored that received the governor’s signature includes:
· House Bill 1424 allows the Missouri State Highway Patrol to sell surplus watercraft, watercraft motors and trailers in the same way the highway patrol currently sells vehicles. In 2011, the state water patrol was unified with the highway patrol. When this was done, however, no statute was put into place to allow the newly combined patrols to sell surplus watercraft. This bill simply fixes that oversight.
· House Bill 1318 contains two amendments I sponsored this year. One creates a Mental Health Assessment Pilot Program, which allows a judge in one of the participating counties, upon a motion filed by the prosecutor, to place an offender in the Department of Corrections for 120 days for a mental health assessment and treatment. If the offender is found to have a mental illness, he or she may qualify for probation and be placed in community psychiatric rehabilitation centers. The second amendment adds the local prosecutor to the list of individuals notified when a sexual predator is to be released.
· House Bill 1150, which contains a provision identical to a bill I sponsored, allows scrap metal operators to acquire vehicles or vehicle parts that are 10 year old or older without the original certificate of title. There are a lot of derelict cars that may not be road-worthy, but still hold some value as scrap metal or parts. This bill will make it much easier for people to sell those vehicles to scrap yards while keeping in place the proper restrictions to protect the public.
· House Bill 1820 authorizes the governor to convey specified state properties, including land from the Department of Corrections to the St. Francois County Habitat for Humanity and another piece of land to Farmington for construction of an outer road.
The majority of legislation signed by the governor will take effect on Aug. 28. Those that contained an emergency clause took effect upon his signature.