Controversial abortion, open-carry bills among Statehouse veto overrides

Nixon vetoed a record-breaking 33 bills, but the state General Assembly overrode 11
Ben Kothe / Graphic Designer

Last week, the Missouri Senate and House made national news after holding several veto override sessions.

Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed a record-breaking 33 bills at the end of the last legislative session.

Former Gov. John Dalton, a fellow Democrat, is the only Missouri governor to have vetoed more bills in a single session, with 35 vetoes in 1961.

Nixon vetoed several prominent bills, including HB 1307, SB 841, SB 523, and SB 656, which were overridden by the Missouri General Assembly last week.

The assembly overrode 11 of Nixon’s vetoes in total, the highest number since 1833. The assembly also overrode a record 47 line-item vetoes out of Nixon’s 120, most of which pertained to the state’s budget for the fiscal year. This is the most overrides of line-item vetoes in the state’s legislative history, which had previously been two.

HB 1307 was a House bill that created 72-hour waiting periods for women seeking an abortion. It did not include an exception for rape or incest victims, which was Nixon’s main objection to the law. This missing provision created a great deal of controversy over the law. Despite this, Missouri lawmakers went ahead with the law, making Missouri one of the most restrictive states for abortion access to date.

Missouri now has the longest waiting period in the country, along with Utah and South Dakota. However, Utah’s law includes a provision that makes exceptions for rape and incest victims. South Dakota’s law could be considered more extreme, as weekends and holidays do not count toward the waiting period.

The previous laws regarding abortion waiting periods required women to wait 24 hours in between a consultation with their doctor or care provider and the actual procedure.

In Nixon’s veto letter of HB 1307, he strongly condemned the bill and its lack of a provision for victims.

“This glaring omission is wholly insensitive to women who find themselves in horrific circumstances, and demonstrates a callous disregard for their well being,” Nixon said in the letter. “It victimizes these women by prolonging their grief and their nightmare. No woman should be further victimized by a government that forces her to endure even longer the horror that is the crime of rape.”

Nixon went on to exemplify how the bill creates bigger government.

“Underlying this bill, and the expansion of the governmental interference it would mandate, is a paternalistic presumption that rape and incest victims are somehow unable to grasp the horror that has befallen them and that government must force them to take more time to come to grips with their plight,” Nixon said in the letter.

The governor’s strong response and veto did not hold sway with Republicans, though, who control both the Missouri House with 110 members and the Senate with 23 members. They overrode the veto 23-7 in the Senate and 117-44 in the House.

Another prominent overridden veto was SB 656. This new law will allow open carry in all parts of Missouri, regardless of local municipality laws. Missouri’s past open-carry gun law allowed local governments to pass laws limiting open carry within their borders.

This directly applies to Kansas City, where in July, the city voted to ban all open carry. SB 656 renders this law obsolete.

This bill has also garnered national attention, in addition to HB 1307, for its prominence in the gun law debate across the country.

SB 656 also provides a pathway for teachers to be able to open carry in schools. The teachers must go through a safety course and additional training, totaling 124 hours. Teachers must participate in the training each year.

In addition, SB 656 lowered the age requirement for concealed carry from 21 to 19.

The legislative session also overrode the veto on SB 841, which is a bill requiring the restrictions imposed upon sellers and distributors of normal tobacco products to be extended to include these restrictions on alternative nicotine products or vapor products.

This will include requiring the buyer to be of 18 years age, requiring the sellers of these products to have a license and giving the Division of Liquor and Tobacco Control authority over these establishments. The bill also includes that alternative nicotine or vapor products will not be taxed or otherwise regulated as tobacco products.

SB 523, which was also overridden last week, prohibits school districts from requiring students to use IDs that contain radio frequency identification technology.

There has not been a single legislative session in the history of the United States Congress in which Congress has overridden 11 or more vetoes.

The highest number of overridden vetoes per president, over a four-year period, was Andrew Johnson, with 15.

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