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Governor stands poised with veto pen on 'ABC' issues


For the Call

As the end of the Missouri legislative session looms, Gov. Bob Holden stands poised with his veto pen on the "ABC'' issues — abortion, budget and concealed carry.

On those issues, it appears that the governor may veto approved legislation and throw the General Assembly into a special session or bring forth a major confrontation during September's veto session.

Legislation that would require a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion has been approved by the General Assembly and sent to Holden for his signature.

This bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Walt Bivins, R-Oakville, and Rep. Pat Yaeger, D-Lemay, also would require doctors to in-form women about the risks of an abortion.

"It seems little to ask for such a life-altering decisions,'' Bivins stated in a news release.

All the legislators representing south county — Bivins; Yaeger; Rep. Jim Avery, R-Crestwood; Rep. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay; Rep. Sue Schoemehl, D-Oakville; Michael Vogt, D-Affton; and Sen. Anita Yeckel, R-Sunset Hills — supported the legislation. The governor has indicated he may veto the measure, House Bill 156.

In September, the General Assembly will reconvene for its veto session.

A two-thirds majority is required for a veto override — 109 votes in the House and 23 votes in the Senate. House Bill 156 was approved with 123 favorable votes in the House and with 23 in the Senate.

The General Assembly last week ap-proved, primarily along party lines, and sent to the governor's desk a $19 billion budget.

A veto of any one of the 13 appropriation bills that comprise the budget will throw the Legislature into a special session.

Holden has decried sharp cuts in the budget, especially in education and social services, and has advocated increasing taxes on casinos, smokers and the very wealthy.

However, Bivins noted, "The single big-gest item was the education (K-12) budget which makes up over 30 percent of our state's revenue."

In a news release, Avery stated, "One winner in this year's budget is the taxpayer in the state of Missouri. No tax increases have been added into this budget to get it to balance."

This sentiment was echoed by Lembke, who said in a press release, "This week the General Assembly met its constitutionally established deadline and sent to the governor a budget balanced on controlled spending and efficiencies rather than tax increases. By defeating three separate tax-increase proposals last year, Missouri voters sent a strong message that it is time for our state to live within it means and exercise fiscal restraint."

Yaeger disagreed with Lembke's assertion the budget is balanced.

"The budget is not balanced because HB 600 has not been passed in bring in revenue to make-up the expected shortfall,'' she told the Call. "The Legislature should have spent more time on the budget. It is not prudent to use one-time money sources to balance the state budget.

Depending upon when Holden calls a special session after the close of the regular session this Friday, the General Assem-bly will have up to six weeks to deliberate on new appropriation bills before the be-ginning of the new fiscal year, which starts July 1.

When legislation authorizing the carrying of a concealed weapon was last ap-proved by the General Assembly, it in-cluded the stipulation that Missouri residents would vote on the issue.

In April 1999, voters in St. Louis, St. Louis County and Kansas City overwhelmingly rejected a concealed carry measure known as Proposition B.

In St. Louis County, Proposition B was overwhelmingly defeated as it received 201,512 "no'' votes and 88,334 "yes'' votes.

This rejection by the major urban areas killed Proposition B, although it had re-ceived majority support in rural counties.

The General Assembly last week overwhelmingly voted to approve a concealed carry measure.

However, this time the public has no direct say. But Holden has said that he will veto the measure, House Bill 349.

The legislation obtained 111 favorable votes in the House and 23 in the Senate.

To override a veto, 109 members in the House and 23 in the Senate would have to vote to do so at the annual veto session in September.

South county legislators split along party lines on this measure with Republicans Yeckel, Avery, Bivins and Lembke voting in favor of concealed carry. Schoemehl, Yaeger and Vogt opposed House Bill 349.

When House Bill 349 received initial House approval in March, Avery said, "It is very exciting that our Legislature is ready to guarantee law-abiding Missourians their Second Amendment rights of self-pro-tection."

In a news release last week, Bivins said, "As this issue failed in a 1999 statewide election, I voted for an amendment to again place the issue before the voters. The amendment failed. Even so the measure I ultimately supported, and which passed both House and Senate, is the toughest in all the 32 states which have such laws."

Upon initial approval of the measure in the House, Vogt had said, "The vast majority of my constituents have indicated that they are not for concealed carry and I support their wishes."

Yaeger told the Call last week, "My constituents consider it a waste of time to again be considering this issue because the people clearly voted 'no' in 1999. I vote the wishes of my constituents not my personal wishes."

Under the legislation, people who were found guilty of a crime of violence, or convicted more than once of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or found guilty of possession of a controlled substance, or judged mentally incompetent could not obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

The bill prohibits the carrying of a concealed weapon in police stations, in polling places, in jails or courthouses, in bars or casinos, in secure areas of airports, in hospitals or in the gated areas in amusement parks.

A business may post a sign saying concealed weapons are prohibited. But individuals may carry concealed weapons into churches, schools and child-care centers with proper permission.

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