4 questions about the upcoming Missouri legislature veto session
While Gov. Mike Parson only rejected one bill from this year’s legislative session, he also removed over $500 million from the budget using line-item vetoes.
Whether the Republican-led legislature will override any of those vetoes is one of the questions lingering before this year’s veto session, which begins Wednesday.
What are some of the expectations going into the session? St. Louis Public Radio’s Jonathan Ahl spoke with statehouse reporter Sarah Kellogg to discuss the upcoming veto session, including the likelihood of Republicans rebuking a governor of the same party.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Jonathan Ahl: What is the dynamic going to be like this year?
Sarah Kellogg: You have the Republican governor and the super [Republican] majority in both chambers, but there was a lot of discontent over Parson’s recent vetoing of over $500 million in the budget.
There are Republicans who were mad about that, as well as Democrats. So that's kind of interesting.
Ahl: Are you expecting lawmakers to try to restore some of those budget cuts?
Kellogg: I do expect some attempts on the House side. So, with the veto session, the origin of where the bill started is where the veto process must start. With the budget, they're all House bills, so they all have to start in the House. I do expect House members to bring up vetoes.
Now, on the Senate side, there's kind of this wrinkle, where it's tradition that the sponsor of the bill is the one to bring it up. So, for budget bills, that would be Sen. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, who's the Appropriations chair. Now, this is his first time as Appropriations chair, so I don't know if he has any appetite of bringing that up.
I know Sen. [Dan] Hegeman, R-Cosby, [Hough’s] predecessor pretty much didn't want to do that, and that was consistently sort of a source of contention the last couple of years.
Ahl: Lawmakers hold very closely projects in their districts. Would that be the fuel for a Republican legislature to override a Republican governor's veto of government spending?
Kellogg: I think that is a big question that we had. I know that Parson pretty much said a lot of the things that he did veto, he thought would be used for local funding, not state funding. He did say if you look at a lot of the districts, you'll see that everywhere got [funding for] projects, but I think people were mad that their personal projects didn't get funded.
And that leads to this tension in the Senate, [which is] who has the right to bring up a bill? Is it only the sponsor? And that's been, I've been calling it a kerfuffle a couple of times I've talked about it because if Sen. [Nick] Schroer, R-O’Fallon, wants to override a project that he wanted, well, it's technically not his bill. It's Hough’s bill. So is Hough going to let him do that?
So that's kind of the big question. I think there's motivation, I think there's a desire there, but I don't know if they're going to get it or honestly get the two-thirds votes needed in each chamber to do it.
Ahl: The last few legislative sessions seem to be marked by their lack of action. Despite having the supermajority of Republicans and a Republican governor, do you think this veto session is going to be the same?
Kellogg: I think veto session is a little different and that it is ultimately still a supermajority and a Republican governor.
He only vetoed one statutory bill [containing several criminal justice provisions], everything else is budget. And I think that the question is, ‘Maybe we'll just bring it up again next year.’
I think a lot of the dysfunction really comes from passing bills, more than overriding because two-thirds is not easy to achieve anyway. It's not a simple majority. So, I'm not expecting maybe like the same intensity that I see during regular session. I know there will be disagreements. There have been the last couple of years, but I don't see them being as big.
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