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Legislators look to September veto session


For the Call

Supporters of 30 bills vetoed by Gov. Bob Holden are preparing for battle in an effort to override the governor's action in September.

Of the 1,504 bills introduced during the first regular session of the 92nd General Assembly, both the House and Senate ap-proved 254 bills that were sent to Holden, who has signed 224 of the measures.

Included in the 30 measures vetoed by Holden were an "informed consent'' bill, a concealed-weapons measure, a foster-care reform bill and a measure that would have created a small-business regulatory fairness board.

Legislators who supported the anti-abortion and concealed-weapon measures are lining up votes for the September veto session in an attempt to override Holden's vetoes.

The "informed-consent" bill (House Bill 156, sponsored by Rep. Susan Phillips, R-Kansas City) that the governor vetoed would have required a 24-hour waiting period before a woman could obtain an abortion.

Rep. Walt Bivins, R-Oakville, and Rep. Patricia Yaeger, D-Lemay, were co-sponsors of the bill.

The other four area House members — Rep. Jim Avery, R-Crestwood; Jim Lembke, R-Lemay; Sue Schoemehl, D-Oakville; and Rep. Michael Vogt, D-Affton — along with Sen. Anita Yeckel, R-Sunset Hills, had voted for passage of the legislation.

It is anticipated that they will support an override. As Yaeger told the Call, "I ran on a pro-life platform. The electorate knew my position when they voted for me last November."

While south county legislators were united on House Bill 156, they split along party lines on the concealed-weapon measure (House Bill 349 sponsored by Larry Crawford, R-California) with Republicans supporting the legislation and the Democrats opposed.

Yaeger told the Call that she was following the wishes of her constituents, pointing out that they had overwhelmingly defeated a concealed carry ballot measure in 1999.

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 received majority support in rural counties. Nevertheless, the idea has resurfaced in the Legislature every year.

Yaeger was surprised that Holden vetoed the foster care reform measure.

"I thought the matters in controversy had been resolved in the Senate," she told the Call.

House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, R-Warson Woods, was the sponsor of House Bill 679 and is expected to attempt an override of the veto in September.

Vogt's prediction that the governor would veto a tort reform bill sponsored by Sen. Delbert Scott, a Republican from Lowry City, proved correct.

Senate Bill 280, the "tort reform" bill, limits the amount of damages that may be recovered in medical malpractice litigation and where a lawsuit may be filed. Senate Bill 280 was approved in response to medical doctors' concern about the rising cost of malpractice insurance.

Yeckel believes that the vetoes were political moves by Holden to shore up his base of support among labor and trial attorneys in the event of a primary challenge.

State Auditor Claire McCaskill is a possible challenger to him in the August 2004 primary. Yeckel described Holden as a "special interests governor."

Yeckel especially was angry over Holden's veto of Senate Bill 69, a measure that would have created a Small Business Regulatory Fairness Board to provide state agencies with input on proposed small-business rules.

"Small businesses often feel overwhelmed by the impact of state regulations on their business operations," Yeckel said. "This board would even the playing field."

Yeckel, as chair of the Senate Financial and Governmen-tal Organization, Veterans' Affairs and Elections Committee, was the sponsor of the bill.

Some of the bills approved by the governor have local application, while others affect all Missourians.

Enabling legislation (House Bill 97) was signed by the governor that authorizes a half percent sales tax to be levied by Jefferson County for law enforcement purposes. Such a tax, however, is subject to approval of Jefferson County voters before it could be implemented. Rep. Rick Johnson, D-High Ridge, sponsored this bill.

House Bill 688, sponsored by Hanaway, has been signed by Holden.

This bill establishes the Life Sciences Research Trust Fund in the state treasury. Annually, beginning in fiscal year 2007, 25 percent of monies received from the tobacco settlement are to be deposited into this trust fund. Centers for excellence for life sciences research are to be established in the Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield areas under the legislation.

Barbers with lapsed licenses were provided a means to have their licenses reinstated by a bill introduced by Rep. Amber Boykins, D-St. Louis. Her bill (House Bill 358) was signed by Holden. The governor also signed into law House Bill 640, introduced by Rep. Juanita Head Walton, D-Florissant, that designates June 19 as "Emancipation Day."

Bivins explained, "June 19th was selected as Emancipation Day because it was this date in 1865 that the last slaves were informed of their freedom."

On this day, government offices, organizations and individuals are to reaffirm their commitment to achieving equal justice and opportunity.

Holden also signed legislation that would provide a sales tax holiday for Missourians and earlier hours for alcohol sales.

Senate Bill 11, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau, creates a sales tax-free weekend in August — the second Friday through Sunday — on a select number of items, including certain clothing up to $100, back-to-school supplies — less than $50 — and computer software — up to $200.

Currently, retail stores, restaurant bars and places of amusement may not sell liquor before 11 a.m. Senate Bill 298, sponsored by Sen. John Griesheimer, R-Washington, and signed into law by Holden, will reduce this time to 9 a.m. This bill also prohibits anyone under the age of 19 from dancing in an adult cabaret.

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