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Legislators return for 'veto session'


By CARL H. HENDRICKSON

For the Call

State legislators will return to Jefferson City next week to consider 30 bills vetoed by Gov. Bob Holden.

Although a simple majority is required to pass bills in each legislative body, it takes a two-thirds' vote of the House — 109 members — and of the Senate — 23 members — to override a governor's veto.

It is anticipated that the Republican ma-jority in both chambers will attempt to override some of the vetoes made by Holden, a Democrat.

Rep. Jim Avery, R-Crestwood, said he expects several of the governor's vetoes to be overridden during the "veto session,'' which will begin Wednesday, Sept. 10.

"This will be an extraordinary veto session due to the number of veto overrides,'' Avery said, noting that he anticipates as many as four vetoes will be overridden.

For example, the late Mel Carnahan had only one veto overridden in his eight years as governor and Holden had none of his vetoes overridden during his first two years in office.

Sen. Anita Yeckel, R-Sunset Hills, is angered that the governor vetoed Senate Bill 69 that she sponsored and is working to obtain the votes to override Holden's veto.

"The sole purpose of this bill was to create a Small Business Regulatory Fairness Board that would provide small-business owners with more influence on the creation of new regulations,'' according to Yeckel

However, in his veto message, Holden stated that Yeckel's legislation "suborns an unconstitutional delegation of power from the Executive Branch to a quasi-legislative body — the Small Business Regulatory Fairness Board.''

Furthermore, the cost for state agencies and small businesses to comply with the bill's bureaucratic mandates will be heavy, according to the governor.

Holden said that he is working with small-business leaders to formulate an executive order that provides small business the input into the administrative rule-making process they deserve without running afoul of basic constitutional tenets or impose unreasonable costs and burdens.

But Yeckel contends that Holden simply is playing politics, vetoing the measure and remaking it into an executive order so he can take credit for the measure.

"Furthermore," she told the Call, "Hold-en's proposed executive order takes the teeth out of the bill."

Supporters of an anti-abortion measure and legislation that would allow Missouri residents to carry concealed weapons are poised for battle in an attempt to override Holden's respective vetoes next week.

Busloads of supporters of each measure are anticipated to be in Jefferson City next week to buttonhole legislators and seek their support.

Avery expects that the Legislature will override the governor's vetoes of these two bills.

"I have talked to colleagues in both parties and there definitely is the sentiment to override the veto on the pro-life bill," Avery said. "Furthermore, I have heard that (Missouri Auditor) Claire McCaskill intends to announce her intention to seek the Democratic nomination for governor during the veto session."

If she does so, according to Avery,. this should diminish the reluctance some Democrats have of voting against their governor during the veto session. Yeckel also confirmed that she has heard rumors of McCaskill's intended announcement.

The "informed consent" bill — House Bill 156, sponsored by Rep. Susan Phil-lips, 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 — Avery, Rep. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay; Rep. Sue Schoemehl, D-Oakville; and Rep. Michael Vogt, D-Affton — along with Yeckel had voted for passage of the legislation.

Yaeger is expected to vote for an override. She told the Call, "I ran on a pro-life platform. The electorate knew my position when they voted for me last November."

She also said that she has not yet received any pressure from the governor's office to support his veto.

Holden, in his veto message, stated that current law already ensures that women who wish to receive an abortion give their informed consent to a physician before the procedure.

Requiring a 24-hour waiting period does nothing more than restrict a woman's right to choose to have a legal, constitutionally protected procedure, according to Holden.

The governor pointed out that women do not have to wait 24 hours before undergoing any other comparable procedure.

Avery also is optimistic that Holden's veto of the concealed-carry bill can be overridden. However, this legislation — House Bill 349 — did not enjoy the unanimous support of area legislators, as did the pro-life legislation. Republicans supported the bill and Democrats opposed it.

One reason given by Holden for vetoing House Bill 349 is that the measure violates a federal law that prohibits any person convicted of the misdemeanor crime of domestic violence from possessing or receiving firearms or ammunition.

Another reason given by the governor for vetoing House Bill 349 was that the voters in April 1999 clearly decided that they do not wish to authorize the carrying of concealed weapons in this state. Holden was referring to Proposition B that was overwhelmingly defeated in St. Louis County, receiving 201,512 "no" votes and 88,334 "yes" votes.

But Avery told the Call that House Bill 349 is nothing like Proposition B.

"The legislation adopted by the General Assembly is the most restrictive concealed-carry measure in the country,'' he said. "In 1999, the Missouri Highway Patrol opposed Proposition B. This year they are not op-posed to HB 349."

Yaeger said she does not intend to support an override of the veto, though she is receiving calls from people asking her to do so.

"My district overwhelmingly voted against Proposition B,'' Yaeger said. "Although I am not personally opposed to guns, I feel compelled to vote the wishes of my constituents."

The veto of the foster-care reform bill — House Bill 679 — sponsored by House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, R-Warson Woods, also is expected to be overridden according to Avery.

"Even Democrats did not expect a veto of this bill," Avery said.

One reason given by Holden for vetoing House Bill 679 is the fact that the standard had been raised by which a finding of abuse or neglect must be made by the Division of Family Services.

He is concerned that accused abusers could apply for and receive state aid and nothing could be done to prevent this if the division could not meet the new, higher standard of proving abuse or neglect.

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