Veto of unemployment bill may be addressed in the Veto Session

You may have heard some news reports that the governor does not believe the unemployment reform bill, HB 150, may be taken up in the Senate for the purpose of overriding Governor Nixon’s veto of this commonsense legislation.

Some, including Governor Nixon, claim the Veto Session is only for bills vetoed during the last week of session. But that’s not how the Missouri Constitution reads.

They appear to be taking the position that the second sentence of Article III, Section 32, somehow limits the types of vetoed bills that may be considered in a veto session. The plain language of the sentence indicates conditions that decide whether or not there will be a veto session, not the bills that may be considered.

Here is the sentence:

“If the governor returns any bill with his objections on or after the fifth day before the last day upon which a session of the general assembly may consider bills, the general assembly shall automatically reconvene on the first Wednesday following the second Monday in September for a period not to exceed ten calendar days for the sole purpose of considering bills returned by the governor.”

This constitutional provision does not limit the scope of the vetoed bills that may be considered during veto session. If this statement were a limitation, the word “such” could have been inserted before the words “bills returned by the governor,” but that word does not appear.  This section simply determines whether or not there will be a veto session in September. If the governor vetoes any bill in the last five days of session, the veto session is held in September. It does not limit the consideration of vetoed bills by the general assembly in that veto session.

The Nixon Administration wants to read the Constitution as if there were additional words that simply do not appear in the Constitution.

At Associated Industries of Missouri, we support overriding the Governor’s veto. An important change to modernize the state’s unemployment system is contained in the bill: a provision that does not allow a separated employee with a golden parachute or severance package to collect unemployment while still being paid at full rate. Currently, Missouri is behind in making this change to prevent “double dipping” by such employees. Even New York has made the change and no longer allows this practice.

The basis for the bill, tying the number of weeks of unemployment to the unemployment rate is simple common sense. If the unemployment rate is lower, more jobs are available for those that want to find jobs, so the number of weeks of assistance should be less than in times of extremely high unemployment.

Associated Industries of Missouri supports the efforts of Senator Mike Kehoe to override the veto of House Bill 150 in the Veto Session today.