Legislative bills put to bed

Gov. Jay Nixon signed three “good government” bills Friday, as he completed his actions on the 113 measures Missouri lawmakers sent him this year, for his signature or veto.

“Over the past three and a half years, we’ve worked to make government smarter and more effective,” Nixon said in a news release. “These three bills will keep Missouri on that same track by requiring regular review of administrative rules, and by cleaning up our statutes through the removal of laws that pertain to obsolete programs.”

Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, sponsored one of the bills and said, in a separate news release: “The best thing government can do for proven job creators is move out of the way, not throw up barriers.

“Senate Bill 469 gives average Missourians more power to challenge unfair regulations, and it increases legislative oversight.”

He noted the new law requires all state regulations to be “subject to a periodic review every five years, with the initial reviews beginning in 2015. State agencies will be required to determine whether their regulations are outdated, duplicative, burdensome or narrowly tailored.”

Of the 113 bills lawmakers sent the governor this spring, Nixon signed 98 and vetoed 14 — giving lawmakers a second chance to make them law during the Sept. 12 Veto Session.

On Friday he allowed one bill to become law without signing it, using the “pocket veto” procedure allowed by the state Constitution.

That measure was state Sen. Kurt Schaefer’s Senate Bill 628, which mainly affects “judiciary” operations but also includes language allowing Columbia Regional Airport to create a governing “airport authority,” that could include voting members from other area counties.

Today is the constitutional deadline for acting on all bills.

This week alone, Nixon signed 46 of the 98 bills, with 15 coming on the last two days of the week — leaving none to be finalized today.

“Over the past six weeks, members of my administration and I have been carefully reviewing every piece of legislation passed by the General Assembly this year,” Nixon told reporters during Thursday morning’s Capitol news conference. “Some of these bills were well-crafted and addressed matters of significant importance ... but other bills fell short of these high standards, and I have vetoed them on technical, constitutional or policy grounds.”

Among the measures Nixon signed Thursday were bills:

• Making various changes to state transportation laws, including an expansion of the “Move Over” law to include MoDOT vehicles as emergency vehicles, requiring drivers to change lanes if possible and to slow down while passing those vehicles when they’re stopped on the side of the road and “displaying amber or amber and white lights.”

• Allowing companies that rent or sell vessels to issue temporary boating safety ID cards to out-of-state visitors.

• Extending the Court Automation fee to Sept. 1, 2015, and creating a Joint Legislative Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect to study and analyze the current reporting and investigation system and devise a plan for improving the decision process for removing a child from a home.

• Removing June as a scheduled month for public elections, keeping the state’s presidential preference primary in February and eliminating the current requirement that a political party's emblem (like the GOP elephant or the Democrats’ donkey) be printed on an election ballot above the party’s name.

• Permitting the state’s adjutant general to waive the current maximum age requirement, 64, on a case-by-case basis for a National Guard member.

• Expanding the immunity to civil liability — including libel and slander — for anyone who shares information related to insurance fraud investigations, as long as that information isn’t intentionally false.

Nixon also vetoed several bills Thursday, including measures:

• Changing the law on vaccinating dogs and cats against rabies.

• Changing election laws, with a provision affecting property taxes for a law enforcement district, but using the word “sales” tax in defining the change, creating — as Nixon said in his veto message — “an event that can never occur.”

• Changing financial transaction laws. Nixon said the final bill violated the constitutional mandates against being amended “to change its original purpose” and “containing more than one subject.”

• Modifying the state’s franchise law in a way that “could jeopardize the future growth of Missouri’s wineries, and will make it harder for our soybean growers to develop a market for Missouri-made soy-based beer.”

• Adding visitation and custody rights for people other than a child’s “natural parents when a ‘parent/child’ relationship has been established,” but creating some new legal problems, including a failure to modify all of the laws where the “parent and child relationship” is referenced.

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