It’s September in Missouri, and our thoughts turn to the baseball pennant races – and to Veto Session in Jefferson City. The annual veto session is September 16 this year, and local control and workers’ rights are under attack. Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed 18 bills this year. Republican supermajorities already overrode on two of them during the regular legislative session that ended on May 15. Three of the remaining bills particularly focus on worker justice:
- Out-of-state corporate interests are pushing for an override of the veto on “right-to-work” legislation, House Bill 116. However, the bill failed to achieve a veto-proof supermajority in either legislative chamber when it passed last May. For a successful override, at least 17 House members and two senators would need to switch their votes. Our voices can help this veto “stick.”
- The National Restaurant Association wants an override of House Bill 722 which bars local communities from banning plastic grocery bags or for passing local wage or employment benefits ordinances. Given the higher cost of living in some parts of our state and the woefully inadequate minimum wage (which also depresses wages just above it), Empower Missouri is especially putting effort into seeing this veto sustained. The vote was strong in both chambers so an override is possible. We ask you to take action with us to stop an override of HB 722. An “HB 722 Veto Action Alert” can be downloaded from our website at: http://empowermissouri.org/task-forces/economic-justice/
- House Bill 150 would cut the maximum weeks of unemployment benefits in Missouri from 20 weeks to as low as 13 weeks, depending on the statewide unemployment rate. The House voted 109-53 for an override on May 12, but the Senate took no action on it before the regular session ended, so if the veto on this bill is overturned, litigation on that point is possible.
We ask our members to take four actions for social justice as we move toward Veto Session – in effect, to hit a home run to protect local control and workers. On each of these bills (prioritizing HB 722 if you can only do one):
Hit a single: Call or email the governor to express your thanks for these vetoes. The number is 573-751-3222, and you can email the governor using http://governor.mo.gov/get-involved/contact-the-governors-office.
Hit a double: Call, write or visit your State Representative to share your concern. Ask him/her to sustain the veto. (To locate contact information for your legislator, use the Legislator Look Up box in the lower left at: http://www.senate.mo.gov/.)
Hit a triple: Call, write or visit your State Senator to share your concern. Ask him/her to sustain the veto.
Hit a home run: Get out the word about your opposition to HB 722, HB 116 and HB 150. Post the link for this blog on your Facebook page. Immediately send a letter to the editor to your local daily paper saying that HB 722 strips away local control and has unintended consequences. Use Twitter. Dial up a call-in radio show that seeks local opinions. Knock on your neighbor’s door and share your House member and Senator’s contact information.
It’s not over until it’s over when it comes to Veto Session, so call more than once between now and September 16. These are very important issues. After September 16, we can turn our gaze back to baseball, but, for now, local control and workers’ rights must be protected.