Lawmakers consider bills

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Missouri General Assembly recently met for the annual veto session where lawmakers considered bills the governor vetoed after the regular legislative session.

In Missouri, a two-thirds vote is required in both the Senate and the House to override a veto. For this reason and others, veto overrides are rare. In fact, prior to this year, only 12 veto overrides have occurred since Missouri become a state in 1821 and for 120 years, 1855 to 1976, no vetoes were overridden.

This year, the Legislature made history by overriding 10 of the governor's vetoes. Below, I highlight some of these overrides.

During the regular session, I added language to Senate Bill 9 creating a new penalty for cattle rustling.

In southwest Missouri, cattle rustling has become a serious problem. The price of beef and many miles of rural roads make cattle a tempting and easy target for thieves.

Our state's farmers work hard to feed the rest of the country and the world, and agriculture is our state's No. 1 industry. Their livelihood must be protected. After working with cattle farmers in the 29th District, I immediately put forward a new penalty for cattle theft, making it a Class B felony, which carries a sentence of no less than five years and up to 15 years in prison. Previously, the consequences for stealing cattle were as low as one year in prison. With such a short prison term, many cattle rustlers were taking the risk. It's a much greater risk if cattle rustlers are looking at 15 years in prison.

Senate Bill 9 passed during the regular session with overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate (33-0) and the House (133-21). I am proud to report that your state Legislature stood up for agriculture and overrode the governor's veto of SB 9.

With a tough new penalty for cattle theft and funding for additional detectives for the Rural Crimes Unit of the Highway Patrol (who investigate cattle thefts), Missouri can crack down on rustling and protect the livelihood of our farmers.

The governor had also vetoed my Senate Bill 129, the Volunteer Health Services Act.

This bill allows health care professionals to provide free volunteer care with protection from frivolous lawsuits. The high cost of medical malpractice insurance and a burdensome regulatory system were preventing health care professionals from helping their neighbors receive the care they need.

This is a common-sense solution that makes it easier for health care professionals to help their fellow citizens, but without the interference of government and without putting the bill to the taxpayers.

In vetoing the bill, the governor sided with trial attorneys who wanted to maintain the status quo of suing doctors who are providing free medical care. In one of the session's more dramatic votes, the Senate and House both managed the two-thirds vote necessary and overrode the governor's veto. Senate Bill 129 is a big step toward addressing access to care in Missouri.

I look forward to more doctors, nurses, dentists and pharmacists now being able to donate their time and talent to help their fellow citizens.

Veto session was not without its disappointments. Most disappointing to me was the Senate not being able to muster enough votes to override the governor's veto of the Second Amendment Preservation Act, House Bill 436.

This bill was a response to federal efforts to restrict the right of Missourians to keep and bear arms, guaranteed by the Constitution. Our state has a vested interest in protecting the constitutional rights of our citizens and taking away the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners will do nothing to protect Missouri families.

I strongly supported HB 436 during session and voted to override the governor's veto, but the Senate fell one vote short of an override. After speaking with my colleagues in the Senate, I am confident a similar version of this bill will be introduced next session, and we will have another opportunity to protect your Second Amendment rights.

As always, I welcome your ideas, questions and concerns about Missouri government. You may contact me at the State Capitol as follows: (573) 751-1480;; or by writing to Sen. David Sater, Missouri State Capitol, Room 433, Jefferson City, MO 65101.