The Missouri General Assembly met Wednesday, Sept. 15, for its annual Veto Session, resulting in no overturned legislation. Governor Mike Parson (R) this year had vetoed line items in 12 appropriations bills and four other omnibus bills. In the end on Wednesday, none of the Governor’s vetoes were overridden.
The House of Representatives did vote to override vetoes in sections of HB 4, allotting $150,000 for tax refunds for certain businesses; HB 11, providing three percent raises for Children’s Division workers; HB 12, providing $300,000 to fund a Lincoln County program that focuses on crimes against children; and HB 19, providing $700,000 in stabilization funds for a Community Improvement District in Columbia.
When the bills arrived in the Senate, heated discussion was triggered when Sen. Mike Moon (R-Ash Grove) made a motion to override HB 4, a bill that was originally handled in the Senate by Sen. Dan Hegeman (R-Cosby), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe (R), who was presiding in the chamber, did not recognize Sen. Moon’s motion. “The Senate follows a process that has been long established that the handler of the bill is the person responsible to make that motion,” Lt. Gov. Kehoe said.
What followed was four hours of debate, led by Sens. Moon, Bill Eigel (R-Weldon Spring), and Bob Onder (R-Lake St. Louis), criticizing Lt. Gov. Kehoe’s actions as a member of the Executive Branch. The theatrics were ended when Sen. Hegeman decided to bring up the bill, adding he was against the override, and the motion to override failed 15-13.
Later, Majority Floor Leader Sen. Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) called the actions by some Senators a “clown show” and “disrespectful to this chamber.”
HOUSE MAJORITY CAUCUS SELECTS DEAN PLOCHER AS SPEAKER-ELECT
Missouri Republicans in the state House of Representatives have unanimously elected Rep. Dean Plocher (R-St. Louis) as the choice for Speaker of the House to take office in January 2023. He will continue his Majority Floor Leader role through the end of 2022 and will need to be formally voted as Speaker in January by the next legislature.
HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE HEARS ABOUT VACCINE MANDATE
HOUSE, SENATE ELECTIONS COMMITTEES DEBATE VOTER PHOTO ID
On Tuesday, Sept. 14, the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee met primarily to discuss requiring Missouri voters to show their photo identification when voting at the polls. During the 2021 legislative session, House Bill 334 (Simmons, R-Washington) would require a voter photo i.d. or the voter could cast a provisional ballot. “No one would be turned away from voting,” Rep. Simmons said of his legislation. HB 334 did not pass.
Madeline Malisa of the Foundation for Government Accountability testified about the importance of voter photo i.d. “Proving that you are who you say you are, is just common sense,” she said, noting some 36 states have some form of voter i.d. Several states require the last four digits of a voter’s social security number to be written inside absentee ballot envelopes, she said.
Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (R) said he supports voter i.d. in state law without turning away anyone seeking to vote. He said state government assists about 1,000 Missourians annually to acquire a state photo i.d. at no charge to the individual.
Others testifying during the hearing in support of voter photo i.d. included a resident of Warsaw who said photo i.d. is needed when multiple voters in the same community have the same name. Robert Oakes of Gladstone testified that showing a driver’s license when voting is practical and speeds up the voting process at the polls. Shane Schoeller, County Clerk of Greene County, noted it would be much easier for a person to make a counterfeit paper document for identification than trying to counterfeit a state-issued photo i.d. card. David Stevens of Warrensburg warned that cyber-attacks are possible on our state’s electronic election systems and voter registration data.
Testimony from the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition and from the ACLU of Missouri focused on concerns of more restrictive voter i.d. requirements that have been introduced in past legislative sessions. Denise Lieberman of the MVP Coalition said Missouri already requires identification for voters to cast ballots, and it works. She said the Secretary of State’s outreach program, Show It to Vote, is insufficient.
Lieberman said to improve Missourians’ accessibility to voting, state law changes should be made in:
- No excuse absentee voting.
- Voter registration modernization by automating the act of updating a person’s information through the Missouri Department of Revenue.
- Access to early voting.
Later Tuesday afternoon, the Senate Interim Committee on Elections met to discuss the initiative petition process and voter photo i.d. Those witnesses who testified during the House hearing also testified in the Senate hearing.
Madeline Malisa of the Foundation for Government Accountability promoted a 60 percent affirmative voting threshold to pass an initiative petition rather than a simple majority of votes. And, she said, signature gathering to place initiative petitions on the statewide ballot should be 10 percent of registered voters in each congressional district for constitutional issues and 5 percent in each congressional district for statutory issues. Malisa also criticized Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg who reportedly contributed $400 million from his nonprofit to assist local election offices in the U.S. during the 2020 election. Some Missouri counties received “Zuckerbucks” for the election.
Sen. Barbara Washington (D-Kansas City) said Malisa is “an outsider coming to confuse our voters and our constituents. We don’t have those issues in our state.”
During his Senate testimony, Secretary of State Ashcroft said the 2020 general election in Missouri “was the safest election we’ve had.”
Shane Schoeller told the Senate committee that county clerks invite transparency in elections. In Missouri, voting equipment from four vendors is certified by the secretary of state’s office before the equipment can be used by county election officials, he said. Before an election there of pre-tests, then post-tests, then audits and sometimes re-counts after elections. Regarding private funding for elections, Schoeller suggested the state should define how that money can be used. He also suggested if ballot drop boxes are instituted in the state, requirements should be outlined in state statutes or in regulations so that all counties will follow the same process with drop boxes.