Missouri governor vetoes several bills, signs Springfield senator's firefighters fund
Gov. Mike Parson put his pen to work late last week, vetoing four bills passed by the legislature this year and signing a Springfield senator's priority legislation into law.
Among the bills struck down by Parson on Friday was one that would have required the state's Office of Child Advocate to create a program investigating safety complaints by Children's Division employees.
The child welfare department has come under fire from lawmakers within the last year, and the agency faced significant budget cuts last year. Parson also vetoed just over $2 million in the state's budget that would have boosted wages for those working in the division.
That legislation would have also amended the state's Sunshine Law, requiring agencies to file annual credit and lending reports and allowing them to close records requests if the requester doesn't pay for the records within 30 days. It would have also allowed agencies to limit access to constituents' addresses and phone numbers. The bill passed the House by a 154-1 vote during the legislative session.
In his veto letter, Parson praised lawmakers for passing the measures but cited a recent Missouri Supreme Court decision that he said prevented government bodies from adding such provisions to the Sunshine Law. He also said the Children's Division language duplicated existing law, and pledged to work with lawmakers going forward on public records legislation.
Parson also vetoed a bill that would have given businesses impacted by "overly intrusive health measures" a tax credit, which the governor said was too broad and only benefitted entertainment venues. He also said in his veto letter that a clause that would allow businesses to keep certain taxes "does not broadly serve Missouri's interests."
The governor turned down a bill that would have required those holding county and district board positions throughout the state to be at least 21 years old. It also would have allowed lobbyists who are running or hold school board positions to keep their candidate committees open — a provision that Parson said he "strongly disagreed" with.
"Public officers should have the interests of the people they represent in mind, not those of the organization they have been hired to represent," Parson wrote in his veto letter, saying the legislation "would inevitably lead to increased potential for conflicts of interests in local offices."
Several parts of the bill, including limits on local health officials to create and extend public orders, were part of a separate bill that Parson signed last month.
Finally, Parson vetoed a measure that would have ended federally required emissions testing for three counties, which Parson said could put the state at risk of violating federal law and losing infrastructure dollars.
Parson signed off on a bill on Thursday establishing a relief fund for firefighters who develop cancer due to their work, a priority for Sen. Lincoln Hough, a Springfield Republican. The Voluntary Firefighter Cancer Benefits Pool will send payments to firefighters who decide to sign up for it starting in August.
"I have been wanting to do something for our firefighters for a long time, and I believe this puts us on the right path to help them," Hough said.
Parson is slated to sign a number of other bills this week. Lawmakers will have the opportunity to reconvene in Jefferson City in September to overrule any of Parson's vetoes.