In the latest AIM Your Voice Magazine, Associated Industries of Missouri informed our members of the bills that passed or did not pass in the 2011 legislative session. In some cases, AIM was able to shed light on Governor Jay Nixon’s thoughts and actions on those bills. With the July deadline passed, Governor Nixon has either signed the bills he agreed with, not signed the bills allowing them to become law, or vetoed the bills he opposed.
One of our AIM priorities, Senate Bill 188, was vetoed in late April. The bill would have aligned Missouri employment and discrimination law with that of the federal government. House Bill 163, which extended unemployment benefits to out-of-work Missourians, was signed in mid-April. And Senate Bill 19 was signed by the governor just two weeks later to eliminate the Missouri Corporation Franchise Tax for all Missouri corporations still paying the tax, which is the worst example of double-taxation.
With fiscal responsibility on everyone’s mind due to economic woes and low state revenues, government accountability and efficiency was a hot topic this year. In Governor Nixon’s State of the State Address, he called for a more efficient government through the consolidation of state laws that overburdened businesses and the condensing or eliminating of state boards and commissions. This session, the limited-government, Republican-controlled General Assembly responded.
Representative Cole McNary (R-Chesterfield) filed two bills to make government more efficient. House Bill 315 combined several provisions within Missouri statutes that have been enacted in multiple sections of the law. House Bill 464 combined or eliminated several state boards and commissions. Both bills were signed by Governor Nixon earlier this month.
A fiscal responsibility piece of legislation ensured that benefits from government funded programs go only to Missourians who are drug-free. House Bill 73, filed by Rep. Ellen Brandom (R-Sikeston), passed both chambers and was signed last week by the governor. Recently, it has also been discovered by law enforcement that some drug users are using federally granted EBT cards or food stamps to trade for drugs. In addition to making sure benefits go to sober Missourians, the bill also requires a photo of the benefit recipient to prevent the possibility of the benefit card trading hands to pay for drugs.
Another bill signed by Nixon gives subpoena power to the Senate President Pro Tem and the House Speaker. Senate Bill 68 was filed by the Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer (R-Dexter), who found it difficult to acquire accurate state records to confirm what the state officials were stating during legislative committee proceedings.
One bill aimed at government efficiency that did not receive the governor’s approval was Senate Bill 3 (Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton). The legislation would require photo identification before an individual is allowed to vote. The legislation has hit a stalemate the past few attempts, but this year compromise language included advance voting stations.
The governor vetoed the bill stating, “This new mandate would disproportionately impact senior citizens and persons with disabilities, among others, who are qualified to vote and have been lawfully voting since becoming eligible to do so, but are less likely to have a driver’s license or government-issued photo ID.” Nixon continued, “Disenfranchising certain classes of persons is not acceptable.”
The governor also used his veto power to stop a transportation omnibus bill from going into effect. Associated Industries of Missouri and its transportation committee, the Missouri Transportation Development Council, lobbied in favor of House Bill 430 which would have revised the number of legislators on Missouri’s Transportation Oversight Committee, allowed MoDOT to enter into a design-build contract to enhance U.S. Highway 40/61 I-64 in St. Charles and St. Louis Counties, allowed new special license plate programs, protected emergency responders, and prohibited local municipalities from restricting street access to commercial traffic. The final provision was a big priority for AIM and MTD this year due to two municipal restrictions on the use of city streets.
In one example, a city prohibited commercial traffic through a main city street, forcing the business’s trucks to drive an extra 30-miles outside of the city to access the closest highway. If municipalities are able to continue this practice, the price of goods associated with the affected businesses will rise due to the increased transportation costs. The governor vetoed this legislation due to a billboard provision that was inserted late in the legislative process.
The governor argued in his veto letter that the billboard provision would, “severely restrict the authority of local communities to regulate billboards. By invalidating any local billboard regulation that is contrary to ‘customary usage’ or one that prohibits billboards in certain areas, this bill would limit local government efforts to preserve community character and promote community values.”
While AIM and MTD are disappointed in the veto, we intend to work with a coalition of business groups to pass a law that will allow access to public streets in order to maintain a business operation that is not hindered by something as unreasonable as prohibition of access to roadways. We have already contacted the governor’s office and will be working with them to pass this legislation next session.
If you or your company have any questions about other actions from the governor on legislation you cared about, please contact the AIM office so we may assist you.