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.

Associated Industries of Missouri pleased Missouri Legislature able to override Nixon’s veto of important taxpayer protection legislation

Associated Industries of Missouri (AIM) is pleased the Missouri General Assembly was able to override Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that will shift the burden of proof to the Missouri Department of Revenue in tax cases.

The House and Senate voted to enact SB 829 over the objections of Governor Nixon by bipartisan votes in both chambers. The vote was 26-6 in the Senate and 113-48 in the House. The bill shifts the burden of proof to the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) when the tax agency claims additional taxes are due. It also requires the DOR to prove their case if they disagree a taxpayer is entitled to an exemption, provided the taxpayer has provided initial proof of eligibility for the exemption. The provision is similar to the burden of proof placed on the Internal Revenue Service when dealing with federal tax liabilities.

But the Senate took action on several other important bills that did not receive enough support in the House, and the House restored some job training money that was not acted upon in the Senate.

AIM was also disappointed that Governor Nixon’s veto of taxpayer protections in SB 584 – a bill that would have provided clarification of many tax issues – was allowed to stand.

“The vetoes of the many bills sent a message that the government tax collectors are happy to continue to use the current tax law to treat taxpayers unfairly,” said McCarty. “The goal of these bills was to make the law clearer for the tax collectors and fairer for taxpayers and it is unfortunate the governor did not allow them to become law.”

AIM plans to support legislation in the next session that would establish a legislative board to oversee activities at the Missouri Department of Revenue, a bipartisan idea originally proposed more than a decade ago.

“The types of examples of inconsistencies in taxpayer treatment that have recently come to light and the constant turnover of leadership in the Department of Revenue, combined with term limits in the legislature make discussion of some long term oversight board that can provide long term direction and taxpayer protection very timely,” said McCarty.

Busy Week in Missouri’s Capitol With 3 Weeks Left

April 27 – The legislature has just three weeks to resolve differences and pass several important issues.  And while the clock continues to “tick”, progress was made on several fronts this week.

The Missouri Senate passed their version of the 2013 state budget, following lengthy filibusters and unusual recesses that allowed senators to rewrite certain parts of the budget (click here for more details).  The budget has been reported to the Missouri House.  The House could simply pass the Senate versions of the bills, although I don’t believe this has happened in recent memory.  More likely, the House and Senate will appoint “conference committees” to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget bills.  Some items that were funded exactly the same in both budgets are normally excluded from future changes, although these items may be changed by special motions made in both chambers.  The budget must be approved by May 11.

The Missouri House this week passed HB 1403, a bill that would address two issues in worker’s compensation and reform the Second Injury Fund.  The bill may be used as a vehicle for compromise legislation we are developing now on all three issues.  Associated Industries of Missouri is joining other business advocacy groups in a united effort to negotiate a compromise with trial attorneys, organized labor and Governor Jay Nixon’s office.  “Employees and employers benefit from the no-fault worker’s compensation system,” said Ray McCarty, president of Associated Industries of Missouri.  “Beginning in 1919, Associated Industries engaged labor and trial attorneys in negotiations that led to passage of Missouri’s first worker’s compensation law in 1925.  Recently, the worker’s compensation system in Missouri has been turned on its ear by lawsuits,” McCarty continued.

Occupational diseases have always been covered by worker’s compensation insurance – that is until trial attorneys got involved.  These trial attorneys victimized employers with multimillion dollar lawsuits in civil court by claiming the 2005 revision of the worker’s compensation law was not meant to cover occupational diseases.  Trial attorneys have also been filing lawsuits against fellow employees on behalf of employees injured in workplace accidents.  At the same time, the trial attorneys have expanded coverage of lifestyle conditions and non-work related injuries that cause more to be paid from the state’s bankrupt Second Injury Fund.  The Missouri legislature passed bills earlier this session that would have corrected two of these issues (co-employee liability and occupational diseases) and Governor Nixon promptly vetoed the legislation.

The bill was also heard and approved by the Senate Committee on Small Business and Insurance, after removing the Second Injury Fund provisions.  The bill is on the Senate calendar, awaiting full Senate debate.

Governor Nixon also vetoed employer supported legislation that would have updated Missouri’s law to comply with federal standards currently in place for workplace discrimination claims.  The House this week passed a bill that addresses one part of this legislation: a law that would provide protection for whistleblowers that are notifying authorities of actual wrongdoing by their employer.  Associated Industries of Missouri continues to work hard to pass this legislation and hope Governor Nixon will sign the bill if we are successful in getting it to his desk.  Amendments added in the House would apply the new whistleblower protections to all employers except state and local government.

Both the House and Senate will soon begin wo work on bills that originated in the other chamber.  The 2012 regular legislative session ends at 6:00 p.m. on May 18.