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Missouri House overrides Nixon's veto on unemployment cuts

Attempt now in senators' hands by MARIE FRENCH, Associated Press | May 12, 2015 at 6:09 p.m. | Updated May 12, 2015 at 8:26 p.m.
This Jan. 7, 2015, News Tribune file photo shows the Missouri House Chamber.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's Republican-controlled House voted Tuesday to override the Democratic governor's veto of legislation that would reduce the weeks of available jobless benefits to one of the shortest periods in the nation.

The 109-53 vote met the bare minimum needed to override vetoes; a similar two-thirds majority vote is needed in the Senate for the measure to receive final approval.

Missouri already is one of seven states that offer less than the standard 26 weeks of benefits. The measure vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon would link the duration of jobless benefits to the state's unemployment rate, starting next January. The effect would be to cut the weeks of benefits available for laid-off workers from the current 20 to as few as 13, if the statewide unemployment rate remains below 6 percent.

The March unemployment rate for Missouri was 5.6 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. An unemployment rate of over 9 percent would be needed to receive 20 weeks of benefits.

Some Republican-controlled legislatures in recent years have pushed to cut the benefits available, arguing that workers would have a greater reason to find a new job more quickly. Republican state Rep. Jay Barnes of Jefferson City said people tend to search more aggressively for work when their benefits are about to run out.

"Incentives matter," Barnes told colleagues during Tuesday's debate.

Four other states already link the duration of benefits to the unemployment rate - Kansas, Florida, North Carolina and Georgia. Just two states have minimums lower than Missouri's proposed 13 weeks. Florida and North Carolina both allow benefits to drop to as few as 12 weeks if the state unemployment rate is below 5 percent. Florida's benefits currently stand at 14 weeks and North Carolina's at 15 weeks.

"We are really hurting those people that are down and out right now," said Democratic Rep. Margo McNeil, of the St. Louis suburb of Florissant. "We're going to vote to be the absolute stingiest state in the nation with this override. I mean, where is our humanity?"

Republicans have made the legislation a priority as a way to reduce costs for employers. A similar measure passed last year and also was vetoed, but lawmakers fell two votes short of an override in the House.

This year's bill is different in that it also makes it more difficult for employees who get severance pay when they lose their jobs to qualify for benefits. That's because it would require lump-sum severance payments to be pro-rated on a weekly basis, potentially delaying the clock for when people can begin receiving benefits.

Missouri provides up to $320 a week in unemployment benefits, calculated based on a person's previous income.

The legislation also would increase the amount the state could hold in its unemployment insurance trust fund. It would encourage a state board to consider alternative mechanisms besides borrowing from the federal government when that fund runs out of money.

Employers lose part of a federal tax credit when the state owes the federal government money for unemployment benefits. Missouri began borrowing from the federal government in 2009 and paid it off last year. Business groups say the changes would bring needed stability to the fund and help avoid additional fees in the future.

"At the end of the day, we can't just keep repeating this cycle of having to borrow money for unemployment," said bill sponsor Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, a Republican from Shell Knob.

Associated Press writer Summer Ballentine contributed to this report.

Unemployment bill is HB150.

Missouri House roll call vote on unemployment benefit cuts

The 109-53 roll call vote Tuesday by which the Missouri House overrode Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of a bill that would cut the number of weeks a person could receive unemployment insurance benefits.

Voting "yes" were 109 Republicans.

Voting "no" were 44 Democrats, eight Republicans and one Independent.

REPUBLICANS VOTING YES

Justin Alferman, Washington

Sue Allen, Town and Country

Sonya Anderson, Springfield

Allen Andrews, Grant City

Kevin Austin, Springfield

Kurt Bahr, O'Fallon

Jay Barnes, Jefferson City

Chuck Basye, Rocheport

Nathan Beard, Sedalia

Mike Bernskoetter, Jefferson City

T.J. Berry, Kearney

Jack Bondon, Belton

Rick Brattin, Harrisonville

Cloria Brown, St. Louis County

Wanda Brown, Cole Camp

Eric Burlison, Springfield

Jason Chipman, St. James

Mike Cierpiot, Lee's Summit

Kathie Conway, St. Charles

Steve Cookson, Poplar Bluff

Robert Cornejo, St. Peters

Sandy Crawford, Buffalo

Gary Cross, Lee's Summit

Paul Curtman, Pacific

Charlie Davis, Webb City

Shamed Dogan, Ballwin

Dean Dohrman, La Monte

Tony Dugger, Hartville

J. Eggleston, Maysville

Kevin Engler, Farmington

Sue Entlicher, Bolivar

Scott Fitzpatrick, Shell Knob

Paul Fitzwater, Potosi

Travis Fitzwater, Holts Summit

Tom Flanigan, Carthage

Lyndall Fraker, Marshfield

Diane Franklin, Camdenton

Keith Frederick, Rolla

Don Gosen, Chesterfield

Elijah Haahr, Springfield

Marsha Haefner, Oakville

Jim Hansen, Frankford

Ron Hicks, St. Peters

Galen Higdon, St. Joseph

Justin Hill, Willard

Dave Hinson, St. Clair

Denny Hoskins, Warrensburg

Lincoln Hough, Springfield

Jay Houghton, Martinsburg

Tila Hubrecht, Dexter

Thomas Hurst, Meta

Delus Johnson, St. Joseph

Caleb Jones, Columbia

Jeffery Justus, Branson

Shelley Keeney, Marble Hill

Mike Kelley, Lamar

Nick King, Liberty

Andrew Koenig, Manchester

Glen Kolkmeyer, Wellington

Bart Korman, High Hill

Mike Lair, Chillicothe

Bill Lant, Pineville

Jeanie Lauer, Blue Springs

Mike Leara, St. Louis County

Donna Lichtenegger, Jackson

Warren Love, Osceola

Steve Lynch, Waynesville

Kirk Mathews, Pacific

John McCaherty, High Ridge

Andrew McDaniel, Deering

Joe Don McGaugh, Carrollton

Jeffrey Messenger, Republic

Rocky Miller, Osage Beach

Mike Moon, Ash Grove

Lynn Morris, Ozark

Dave Muntzel, Boonville

Jim Neely, Cameron

Mark Parkinson, St. Charles

Donna Pfautsch, Harrisonville

Don Phillips, Kimberling City

Randy Pietzman, Troy

Patricia Pike, Adrian

Craig Redmon, Canton

Holly Rehder, Sikeston

Bill Rieboldt, Neosho

Tim Remole, Excello

Shawn Rhoads, West Plains

Todd Richardson, Poplar Bluff

Shane Roden, Cedar Hill

Rebecca Roeber, Lee's Summit

Donald Rone, Portageville

Robert Ross, Yukon

Caleb Rowden, Columbia

Lyle Rowland, Cedarcreek

Dan Shaul, Imperial

Noel Shull, Kansas City

Lindell Shumake, Hannibal

Chrissy Sommer, St. Charles

Bryan Spencer, Wentzville

Kathy Swan, Cape Girardeau

Jered Taylor, Nixa

Rob Vescovo, Arnold

Nate Walker, Kirksville

Bill White, Joplin

John Wiemann, O'Fallon

Kenneth Wilson, Smithville

David Wood, Versailles

Anne Zerr, St. Charles

John Diehl, Town and Country

INDEPENDENTS VOTING NO

Keith English, Florissant

REPUBLICANS VOTING NO

Linda Black, Desloge

Kevin Corlew, Kansas City

Elaine Gannon, De Soto

Bill Kidd, Independence

Nick Marshall, Parkville

Jeff Pogue, Salem

Becky Ruth, Festus

Sheila Solon, Blue Springs

DEMOCRATS VOTING NO

Joe Adams, University City

Ira Anders, Independence

Lauren Arthur, Kansas City

Bob Burns, Affton

Michael Butler, St. Louis

Jon Carpenter, Kansas City

Mike Colona, St. Louis

Pat Conway, St. Joseph

Courtney Curtis, Ferguson

Randy Dunn, Kansas City

Brandon Ellington, Kansas City

Kimberly Gardner, St. Louis

Alan Green, Florissant

Ben Harris, Hillsboro

Penny Hubbard, St. Louis

Jacob Hummel, St. Louis

Kip Kendrick, Columbia

Jeanne Kirkton, Webster Groves

Michele Kratky, St. Louis

Jeremy LaFaver, Kansas City

Deb Lavender, Kirkwood

Karla May, St. Louis

Gail McCann Beatty, Kansas City

Tracy McCreery, Olivette

Tom McDonald, Raytown

Kevin McManus, Kansas City

Margo McNeil, Hazelwood

Sue Meredith, St. Louis County

Bonnaye Mims, Kansas City

Gina Mitten, Richmond Heights

Genise Montecillo, St. Louis County

Judy Morgan, Kansas City

Stacey Newman, Richmond Heights

Mary Nichols, Maryland Heights

Charlie Norr, Springfield

Bill Otto, Maryland Heights

Sharon Pace, Northwoods

Joshua Peters, St. Louis

Tommie Pierson, Bellefontaine Neighbors

John Rizzo, Kansas City

Joe Runions, Grandview

Clem Smith, Velda Village Hills

Rochelle Walton Gray, Black Jack

Stephen Webber, Columbia

Link:

House: http://www.house.mo.gov

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