Ross Report

Last week the Legislative annual Veto Session began and when finished 12 hours later, lawmakers expanded Gov. Nixon’s already historic status as the state’s most overridden governor, a record the Democrat has earned after years of clashing with the Republican controlled legislature.

As the day began, the total number of overrides in state history stood at 106, with 57 overrides completed on non-appropriations bills and 49 on budget line-items. Of that total, 84 of the 106 overrides had occurred under the administration of the current governor. With the totals from Wednesday added, the total number of overrides in state history now stands at 119, with 97 of those coming under the watch of Governor Nixon.

The annual Veto Session is required by Article II, Section 32 of the Missouri Constitution, which calls for the General Assembly to convene each September to consider vetoed bills. Overrides have typically been rare in the state’s history because a successful motion requires two-thirds majorities in both legislative chambers – 23 votes in the Senate and 109 in the House of Representatives. Override efforts begin in a given bill’s chamber of origin. If the originating chamber fails to override, the other chamber can take no action on it.

Coming into the annual Veto Session, the Missouri General Assembly had a total of 20 vetoed bills to consider for potential overrides. By the end of the day Wednesday, the House and Senate had each obtained the votes necessary to enact 13 vetoed bills into law. The total includes seven House Bills and six Senate Bills. The 13 overrides bring the total for the 2016 session to 15 overrides of gubernatorial vetoes. It was during the regular session that the legislature successfully overrode the governor on two measures he had vetoed.

This will be the first installment of several Capitol Reports detailing bills of interest in the 142nd District, in which Governor Nixon’s veto was overridden.

SB 656 – (Gun Bill) – This bill makes changes to the Missouri’s gun laws to allow our law abiding citizens more options in protecting themselves and their families, with fewer government burdens and interference. This includes “Constitutional Carry” where a citizen with the lawful right to open carry, may (as of January 1, 2017) keep a firearm concealed in a purse or under clothing. It also expands the castle doctrine by allowing a person who has been authorized by a property owner to be on or in the property to use deadly force as necessary in order to protect themself or others. Citizens will now have the option of a 5 year ($100), 10 year ($200), 25 year ($250), or lifetime ($500) CCW permit if they so choose; and Sheriffs are not allowed to charge more than $100 for a five-year right to carry permit (which was a problem in some of the more urban counties of our state). The “Stand Your Ground” component removes the “duty to retreat” requirement, whenever a law abiding citizen is located in an area that they are lawfully allowed, and faced with a threat against their life. Active duty military members with a CCW permit will now have the ability to renew their CCW within two months of their return, rather than having to start the process from the beginning due to an expiration while on deployment.

SB656 is somewhat uncommon in that it contains multiple effective dates, which are very important. The military CCW renewal/expiration was contained as an “Emergency Clause” within the bill; which went into effect immediately upon the override of the Governor’s veto. The “Constitutional Carry” portion of the bill goes into effect on January 1, 2017, to coincide with other changes to the criminal code that will also be implemented on that date. All other components of the bill (extended CCW permits, expanded Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground, etc.) go into effect on 10/14/2016 (30 days from the date of the veto override), which is typical for legislation that the Governor’s veto has been overridden.

The amount of rhetoric and misinformation concerning this bill coming from Governor Nixon, Democrat legislators and Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun “Mom’s Demand Action” group was nothing short of amazing. SB656 doesn’t change the location where a firearm can be carried (concealed or not). Criminals remain prohibited from carrying a firearm (concealed or not). Despite Governor Nixon’s best efforts to use anti-gun mayors and law enforcement officials for his political purposes, I vividly remember his imaginary affinity for law enforcement while calling for “vigorous prosecution” of an officer (Darren Wilson) in Ferguson who was later exonerated following the investigation and examination of the facts. Make no mistake, SB656 is a win for law abiding Missourians, and while I was very proud to serve on the Conference Committee to help in getting it passed during the regular session, it felt even better to successfully override Governor Nixon’s (historically) misguided veto. Restricting firearm access to those that choose to follow the law has never worked (i.e. Chicago), and I will always continue to oppose any effort to do so.

Our 2nd Amendment right is really the foundation and preservation of all of the other rights that we enjoy. Can you really call it a “right,” if you’re required to ask permission from the government to enjoy it?

House Bill 1631 – (Voter ID) –The State House voted 115-41 to override Gov. Nixon’s veto of legislation that creates the framework for requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls in Missouri. The bill would implement a system of voter identification in the state if Missouri voters approve a constitutional change that is on the November ballot (Constitutional Amendment #6). Valid forms of identification would include photo IDs issued by the state, the federal government or the military. The bill also contains provisions to assist individuals in obtaining a valid ID if they do not have one, or to obtain documents necessary for an ID. Additionally, HB1631 contains a provision that would allow a voter without a valid photo ID to vote with a regular ballot, upon executing a statement under penalty of perjury that they are qualified to vote and presenting specified forms of identification (including school identifications, utility bills, bank statements, paychecks, and government documents). Anyone signing a statement shall be required to have their photograph retained by election authorities for future identification purposes. Provisional ballots will be used only for those who refuse to sign a statement of eligibility and will require returning to the polling place with photographic identification and signature matching in order to vote.

Elections have consequences, and election integrity matters. Every qualified voter should be assured that their vote isn’t being unduly diluted by those that would take advantage of the system. Within the last week, a “redo” election was held by court order in St. Louis, due to apparent improprieties with votes cast in the August primary. The results of the Friday, September 16 “redo” election were astounding and starkly different from the August results; and a new State Representative will take office in January to represent St. Louis City. Was voter fraud the difference? We may never fully know, but the difference in results within a month’s time raises some serious questions.

A photo ID is required to purchase alcohol, tobacco, to rent a movie, to enter a casino, to use a credit/debit card; even to enter the Democratic National Convention! The implications of voting are of much greater importance to our great nation than any of the aforementioned actions, and voters deserve to know that fraud isn’t occurring.

Robert Ross serves the 142nd House District in the Missouri House of Representatives. Contact him at 573-751-1490 or Robert.Ross@house.mo.gov.

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