My Last Veto Session as a Missouri Legislator

VETO SESSION —SPECIAL SESSION —-WHAT HAPPENED

Today was my ninth and final Veto Session as a Missouri state legislator.

And unless there’s one more Special Session this year, today was my very last day at my desk on the House floor.

In the Capitol today with a few of my favorites: KC Reps. DaRon McGee and Greg Razer along with Ian Mackey, the Democratic candidate for the 87th, my seat.

With a GOP governor and a GOP majority party in the legislature, the dynamics today were totally different than in years past.  In addition to Veto Session, Governor Parson ALSO issued a call for a Special Session (which began Monday) to “fix” 2 of his vetoed bills.

MY CONCERN: Special Sessions, which cost YOU, the taxpayer, have traditionally been used for extraordinary situations —for legislative action which could not wait for the next regular session.  Fixing two bills just for the comfort of the bill sponsors is NOT my idea of extraordinary or an emergency.  

VETOES: Former GOP Governor Eric Greitens signed 81 bills into law and issued no vetoes before abruptly resigning on June 1st, ahead of impeachment proceedings in the House.

Governor Mike Parson signed the remainng 63 bills which had been sent to his office for final approval and vetoed three.  He also issued a total of 21 line-item vetoes to 10 budget bills, eliminating nearly $12.1 million in spending authority we approved for the 2019 fiscal year.

A two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate is needed to override any veto.

WHAT WE DID TODAY:

The House voted to override just 4 of the budget line item vetoes – I VOTED TO OVERRIDE ALL FOUR.

  • $153,546 for time critical emergency medical diagnosis hospital units
  • $487,000 for juvenile advocacy units with the state public defender’s offices in St. Louis and Kansas City
  • $100,000 for the Office of Child Advocate
  • $45,000 to provide a full-time employee at the Deaf and Hard-of-hearing Commission.

However the Senate failed to bring up any veto – negating the work of the House and keeping the vetoes in place. Oh well.

AND THEN WE ADJOURNED & IMMEDIATELY WENT INTO SPECIAL SESSION

First up, HB2, dealing with expansion of drug courts statewide.  The bill sponsor fixed the major issue of the bill which was the unconstitutional wide scope – and narrowed it to just circuit court expansion.  It passed overwhelmingly by 141-1 (I VOTED YES).

Second, we debated long before debate was cut off by a Previous Motion on HB3, dealing with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) curriculum in high schools.  The major problems of the bill which we had brought up during original debate last May:

  • Allows for high schools to count a computer science course as a math or science credit for graduation
  • However, the University of Missouri system universities require 4 solid units of math for admission
  • Parents are required to sign a form indicating they know that a STEM course used for math or science would prohibit their child’s admission to these colleges
  • NO STEM curriculum standards have yet been established

Rep. David Woods (GOP -Versailles), a big supporter of HB3 said on the floor today, “We are sending kids to 4 year colleges that shouldn’t be there”.

See the problem?  Democrats argued that one high school computer science course is NOT going to guarantee a job at Boeing or Apple.

Even though there is a great need for computer education, we must not diminish math and science education —-particularly when UM system colleges are spending too much $$$$ on remedial math classes.

Rep. Tommie Pierson Jr. (DEM -St. Louis) did his best with an amendment that would not allow a computer science course to replace a math or science requirement for high school graduation. As a math teacher himself, he said, “We are competing computer science against math, and competing computer science against science. They should not be an ‘or,’ but an ‘and.’”

My seatmate, KC Rep. Judy Morgan, a longtime teacher, school counselor and

education advocate, spoke passionately against the STEM bill —pointing out why our kids MUST know math and science to succeed.

The debate shows WHY we need more teachers, counselors and superintendents in the Capitol and legislators who actually CARE about our kid’s futures.  The bill was strongly opposed by the Missouri School Counselor Association but passed 119-23 (I WAS OPPOSED) and heads over to the Senate tomorrow.

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SO THIS IS THE END

Unless there is a TRUE emergency for another 2018 special session, today marked my final day on the House floor.

It has been a true honor to represent all of you in the 87th district —and stand up for kids, women and real people all over the state.

Thank you for your trust to make good decisions on your behalf.  I’ve done my very best in every hearing, in floor debate and with every vote I cast. Serving in a super-minority in a red state has been a challenge but I’ve fought hard with all my might.

I have a sad heart, particularly after today’s special session debate. Many bills are pushed through for the sake of companies and lobby interests that have detrimental effects on real people.  We must do better, we really must.

However, please know that I will remain vocal on my hallmark issues of the past 20 years – gun violence prevention, reproductive rights, racial justice, voters rights – however I can.  Because I can’t stop caring.

Thank you so very much.

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