Override of unemployment benefits bill upheld, will move to Supreme Court

This is a win in round number one of the battle over the constitutionality of the veto override of the unemployment benefits bill. AIM is a strong supporter of the bill and feels the court cases are frivolous. Reaction from the AFL-CIO is not included in this article, but in an article published by the Missouri Times, a spokesman for the union says they will take their appeal on to the State Supreme Court.

Stay tuned!

From the Jefferson City News Tribune

A law that could reduce the number of weeks Missourians can collect unemployment benefits has survived its first court challenge.

Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem last week ruled against a challenge to the Senate’s Sept. 16 vote overriding Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of the bill passed last spring.

Questions surrounding the bill were raised at the end of the regular session, after the House of Representatives overrode Nixon’s veto and the Senate adjourned before taking it up. Some claimed the Senate should have taken up the bill during the regular session, making it dead upon arrival during the September veto session, and causing the Senate’s 24-8 override vote to be unconstitutional.

Anticipated litigation over the constitutionality followed. The AFL-CIO, which represents various unions, filed a lawsuit challenging the override vote, six days after veto session.

Deputy Solicitor General Jeremiah Morgan defended the state in written briefs and at a mid-October hearing.

Nanci Gonder, spokesperson for Attorney General Chris Koster, said Monday afternoon the state did not have a comment on Beetem’s ruling. The AFL-CIO did not respond Monday to the News Tribune’s request for comment.

Beetem declared the override vote constitutional because the Missouri Constitution does not prohibit the Senate from taking the vote in a veto session, months after the House had voted.

“This Court will not infer a limitation on the General Assembly’s plenary power to conduct legislative action when a limitation does not expressly exist in the Missouri Constitution,” Beetem wrote in his nine-page judgment, “particularly, when it is contrary to the plain language of the Missouri Constitution.”

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