Monday, September 10, 2012

Stouffer: SB 749 not necessary, but it's vital to override Nixon's veto

In his latest report, Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, indicates that, even though SB 749 "was mainly meant to reaffirm existing law," (in other words, was totally unnecessary) he still thinks it is important that the legislature override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto when it goes back into session this week.

Lawmakers are making their way back to Jefferson City for the annual veto session. It looks like this veto session may take a little longer than veto sessions of the past several years.

Of the 114 bills that passed through the Missouri General Assembly this year, 14 of them were vetoed by the governor, for one reason or another. Of these measures, 13 are up for consideration of a veto override — two of which have been talked about as most likely to be overridden by the Legislature, Senate Bill 749 and House Bill 1329.

Senate Bill 749 would have provided protection for the religious beliefs as to the imposition of certain health care services such as abortion, contraception or sterilization. This measure gained a great deal of attention throughout the regular legislative session, on the heels of the federal government’s plan to nationalize health care.

There was really nothing new in SB 749. It was mainly meant to reaffirm existing law that keeps government out of the business of telling religious organizations they have to violate their own ethics in order to fulfill a so-called legal obligation. Our out-of-control federal government seems to be in the business of restricting and eliminating freedoms these days, and SB 749 would have kept some of these actions from continuing.

House Bill 1329 has started to gain renewed attention as we approach veto session. The measure set out to modify the law regarding the issuance of temporary permit tags and the collection of sales taxes on motor vehicles, trailers, boats and outboard motors. Earlier this year, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled if a car, boat or trailer was bought outside of the Show-Me State, cities and counties could not collect the sales tax from that purchase. This created a hole in tax revenues. The tax loophole provides an incentive for Missourians to buy vehicles out-of-state. House Bill 1329 would have fixed this loophole.

As I said in a previous column, the governor’s veto greatly affects more folks who live close to any of the eight states’ boundary lines that surround Missouri. Some counties in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas are looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue because of the court ruling and the veto of HB 1329. These are the same counties that already put use and sales taxes on the ballot. The taxes were approved, and then dropped because of the court decision, so the question of constitutionality is not quite enough to explain the veto.

My hope is both of these vetoes will be overridden. As I mentioned earlier, approximately one-tenth of the bills that were passed by the Legislature this year were vetoed. In some cases, it was because a bill contained language in another bill that was already signed into law. In other instances, it was because the governor and lawmakers did not see eye-to-eye.

I would also like to note that there is no special session this year, for the first time in three years. This comes as good news because it costs extra money to hold a special session. Typically, veto session only lasts one day. This year’s veto session is scheduled to begin at noon on Wednesday, Sept. 12.

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