St. Louis lawmaker votes as son lobbies for bills

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A St. Louis lawmaker provided a couple of key votes to help override vetoes of bills on which her son had recently been hired as a lobbyist.

Democratic Rep. Penny Hubbard joined with many Republicans this week in voting to override vetoes of bills limiting court judgments against The Doe Run Co. or for motorists driving without insurance.

Hubbard originally had voted against those bills earlier this year.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (http://bit.ly/1daEvC ) that her son, Rodney Hubbard, was hired as a lobbyist for both bills in advance of the veto session.

Rodney Hubbard said he did not lobby his mother on the issues and had nothing to do with her votes.

“I don’t even know how she voted on the issues because she wasn’t on my list” of legislators to lobby, Hubbard told the Post-Dispatch. He added: “She votes her own mind, she votes her own conscience and she calls her own shots.”

Penny Hubbard did not did not immediately respond to a message Friday from The Associated Press. The Post-Dispatch said she did not return several voicemail and email messages left Thursday.

One of the bills at issue bars drivers who lack liability insurance from collecting noneconomic damages in lawsuits against insured drivers involved in vehicle accidents. Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill in July, saying it was “riddled with ambiguity” and did not adequately define “uninsured motorist.”

The House voted to override Nixon’s veto 109-51 — the bare minimum needed for a two-thirds majority. The Senate then also voted to override the veto.

The Missouri Insurance Coalition, which led the drive for the veto override, had hired Rodney Hubbard as a lobbyist on Aug. 21.

Asked whether Penny Hubbard was a key vote on the insurance bill, the sponsor, Rep. Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, said: “When you get 109, every single person was an important vote. Penny votes a lot of the time with the Republicans, so I don’t know if that’s anything unusual. I didn’t necessarily talk to Penny myself personally, so I don’t know who educated her.”

Rodney Hubbard also was hired a day before the veto session to lobby for Doe Run. The company, which is facing several liability lawsuits over contamination from old lead mining sites, was pushing for legislation that would cap punitive damage awards against it at $2.5 million. The bill also could shield the company entirely from punitive damages if a court found it was making “good faith efforts” to clean up the contaminated sites.

Nixon said the bill violated the Missouri Constitution by retroactively limiting legal damages and by creating a special law benefiting only particular legal defendants.

The House voted 110-50 to override the veto, and the Senate also approved the override motion.

Doe Run said Rodney Hubbard was not hired to lobby his mother. Although she had voted against the bill originally, Penny Hubbard already had committed to support the override attempt by the time her son joined the lobbying effort, said Jane Dueker, a St. Louis lawyer who lobbies for Doe Run.

Dueker said Rodney Hubbard was hired because the company needed more lobbyists to track where legislators stood on the issue. His addition brought Doe Run’s lobbying team to 11.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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