Missouri veto day

photo of Eades bridge and St. Louis Arch in black and white


Evidently the pod people arrived today, stealing legislator bodies, because both the gun nullification and tax cut bills did not survive a veto override attempt. A half dozen bills did survive including a silly law created specifically for one powerful corporation, Doe Run.


Today is what’s known as Missouri Veto Day. This is the day when Missourians learn whether our state resumes a normal life or continues being fodder for much head shaking and laughter.

This special session of the Missouri legislature was organized to address several vetoes by Governor Jay Nixon. Among the many bills entering the override sweepstakes, two in particular stand out: HB 253, the latest in Rex Sinquefield’s social experiment to see how one can go about buying a state; and HB 436, otherwise known as That Damn Gun Nullification bill.

HB 253 is the granddaddy of “starve the government” bills. It’s a massive tax cut that benefits corporations and the affluent, while severely restricting desperately needed cash flow. Since Missouri also has a balanced budget amendment enshrined in our Constitution, this bill forces Missouri to dramatically cut education and other necessary services—and Missouri isn’t a particularly generous state to begin with. We’re thinking of changing our motto from “Show me” to “Send help”.

Nixon vetoed the bill, and haven’t we had fun since. You can’t watch news without seeing 10 or more of the Sinquefield funded ads accusing Nixon of various nefarious acts by not supporting the bill. I thought this crap was over after the election, but no, here in Missouri, we like political doggerel fed to us 24×7.

Veto supporters did manage to scrape together enough money to produce one ad, which I saw once. Most of the effort to support the veto came about by Nixon doing the boots-on-the-ground, press the flesh, eat ham at the fair, grass roots effort…and talk to every single reporter from anything even remotely resembling a publication. Heck, he even talked to webloggers.

(I found it humorous when State Rep. Holly Rehder compared what Nixon did in his grass roots campaign to the Nazi propaganda machine. That’s like saying Hitler rose to power by kissing baby cheeks and eating Leberkäse.)

Then there was the visit by Rick Perry, Texas Governor. Missouri’s Chamber of Commerce decided the best way to convince people to call their representatives and demand a veto override was by bringing in a man who ran ads telling businesses they should leave Missouri and go to Texas. Texas, where their lack of regulation is only matched by their spiffy highway system.

Missouri can proudly lay claim to having the only Chamber of Commerce actively trying to send business elsewhere.

There is one good thing about HB 253: no one has doubted the sanity of the people who support it. We may wonder about their fiscal responsibility, empathy to the average person, foresight and intelligence, but HB 253 supporters seem to be sane. The same cannot be said for HB 436 supporters.

There’s all sorts of good reading in HB 436, but my favorite part is the following:

Any official, agent, or employee of the United States government who enforces or attempts to enforce any of the infringements on the right to keep and bear arms included in subsection 3 of this section is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

Any Missouri citizen who has been subject to an effort to enforce any of the infringements on the right to keep and bear arms included in subsection 3 of this section shall have a private cause of action for declaratory judgment and for damages against any person or entity attempting such enforcement.

According to this bill, not only can our sheriffs arrest ATF agents for enforcing federal laws, anyone busted in the state based on these same laws can sue the ATF agents. In what reality is this a good idea? Even the NRA isn’t embracing this puppy.

Fortunately, whatever sanity is lacking in Jefferson City can be found elsewhere in the state. Every major law enforcement organization in the state is against this bill, including the rural-reflecting Sheriff’s Association:

The sheriffs’ association – particularly influential in rural Missouri — announced early Friday that the bill “violates the sheriff’s oath of office.”

The Sheriffs’ Association says that several provisions also “would serve to hamstring the sheriffs and their deputies from enforcing or participating in all federal, drug, and violent gang task forces currently operating in the state.”

In addition, the association said, “language in the bill would expose all local law enforcement” to legal liability as authorities try to enforce any state laws regarding firearms violations.

Our Attorney General, Chris Koster, wants nothing to do with this bill. He sent a letter to the legislature reminding them of what happens when states attempt to nullify federal law. Of course, if the state implements the law and when it gets thrown out in court, Missouri legislators can just whip up another bill making it illegal for federal courts to operate in the state.

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