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Missouri lawmakers look to overturn vetoes

Posted: 10:38 AM, Sep 16, 2015
Updated: 2015-09-16 11:38:48-04

Missouri lawmakers are set to meet Wednesday to potentially overturn more than a dozen vetoes that Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon made to legislation this year, including a contentious right-to-work measure and bill that would cut unemployment benefits.

The Republican-led Legislature needs a two-thirds majority vote of 109 in the House and 23 in the Senate to override Nixon. The measures stand a good chance of passing if most of the GOP supermajority votes together.

Here's a look at the major bills that lawmakers could attempt to enact:

RIGHT TO WORK

The measure would bar workplace contracts that require union fees to be collected from nonmembers, a policy touted by supporters as an economic boost and slammed by opponents as a hit to unions that could lead to lower wages. Pushed by Republican legislative leaders but opposed by some Republicans, the bill does not appear to have enough supporters in the House for lawmakers to override Nixon's veto and make Missouri the 26th right-to-work state.

But pressure from other Republicans has been mounting as the veto session draws closer. Three GOP gubernatorial candidates and two other potential candidates signed a letter to lawmakers in support of the measure, and Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder wrote a separate letter pushing right to work.

RELATED: As expected, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoes 'right-to-work' bill

"Right to work promotes fairness, accountability, and economic freedom," Kinder wrote. "The longer we wait to enact right to work, the further we inhibit job growth in Missouri and keep our state from moving ahead."

GOP leaders in the House face a challenge persuading Republican colleagues in opposition to the measure to switch their votes, though. Those who oppose the bill generally say it could weaken unions and lead to lower wages. Nine Republican representatives previously told AP they plan to vote against the bill if it's brought to a vote and another has publicly opposed it, which would leave the measure three votes short of the needed two-thirds majority. Some Republican House members who previously voted against right to work told AP they've received a flurry of phone calls from voters since the measure was vetoed by Nixon, most in opposition to the bill.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

Republican backers in the Senate appear to have the numbers to override Nixon's veto of legislation to cut unemployment benefits to as few as 13 weeks from the current 20 weeks depending on the state's jobless rate. That would reduce the state's unemployment benefits to one of the shortest periods nationally.

Constitutional questions make it unclear whether the measure could actually take effect because of how lawmakers have handled the override attempt. While the House voted 109-53 for an override on May 12, the Senate never brought up the bill before the regular session ended May 15 because of a filibuster by minority party Democrats upset over passage of the right-to-work bill.

RELATED:  Missouri Senate may override Gov. Nixon's veto of unemployment benefits bill

Nixon has said it's too late for lawmakers to override his veto, but Republican senators have said they plan to attempt one anyway. Nixon's administration has not said whether it would enforce the benefit cuts if his veto is overridden. If not, legislators or businesses could sue to try to force him to do so. But if Nixon's labor department were to carry out the benefit cuts, an unemployed worker could sue to try to stop them.

IMMIGRANT SCHOLARSHIPS

The measure would require students be permanent residents or U.S. citizens in order to get the state's A+ Scholarship, which provides two years of free tuition at community colleges for students who meet grade-point average, community service and other requirements.

Supporters said it was meant to limit the number of people receiving scholarships in order to preserve them for Missouri residents.

Democratic opponents and advocates for immigrants said it would cause financial hardship for hardworking students seeking to get a college education and contribute to society.

VIDEO: Nixon vetoes bill that would have required scholarship applicants to be American citizens

Department of Higher Education spokeswoman Liz Coleman said banning the scholarship would mean students brought illegally to the U.S. as children by their parents would be ineligible for almost all state aid, as well as any federal aid.

They would only be able to access three smaller scale scholarships if they met other requirements, which were provided to only about 20 students total in 2014, Gleba said.

OTHER ISSUES

One vetoed bill would bar cities and counties from requiring certain employee benefits or setting a higher minimum wage than the federal or state minimum. The bill also would block local governments from banning plastic bags, ensuring grocery stores and other retailers have the option to provide paper or plastic bags.

Another measure would waive sales taxes on equipment, soap, chemicals, electricity and other items used by laundries to clean clothes, but only for businesses that handle at least 500 pounds of clothes per hour and 60,000 pounds per week. It's aiming at helping large-scale laundries that typically deal with medical, hotel and restaurant linens.

Also up for an override attempt is a bill that would allow lenders to charge fees of up to $100, instead of the current $75, on loans that last more than a month. The bill also would increase a number of license and registration fees for finance companies. For example, each location of a financial institution now must pay an annual licensing fee of $300. The bill would increase that to $500 each year.

Two bills vetoed by Nixon would allow court fees to raise money for certain capital improvement projects. The bill would make the court fees an option in circuit courts for Jasper, Howell, Cape Girardeau, Clay, Cole, Platte and Greene counties, as well as any other circuit that serves a single, non-charter county.

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Associated Press writer David A. Lieb contributed to this report. Follow Summer Ballentine at https://twitter.com/esballentine

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