My Fellow Missourians:

Veto Session began at “High Noon” on Sept. 14. We spent nine hours combing through legislation that Governor Nixon had vetoed this summer. In the end, out of 20 vetoed bills, we voted to override 13 pieces of legislation. This total includes seven House Bills and six Senate Bills.

Highlights on 5 key bills:

I am happy to report that all three pieces of legislation deemed priority by the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association were successfully overridden. These bills will benefit farmers throughout Missouri. SB641 addresses a tax deduction for farmers who receive federal disaster or emergency aid payments. Under this bill, the deduction will be available for all tax years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014. Up to this point, no other disaster program is taxed as income by the federal and state government. Farmers shouldn’t be taxed either! This law will correct that wrong.

SB844 was approved to clarify that an animal owner is liable for damages done by the animal to another’s property only if the owner has been negligent. Currently, if horses, cattle, or other livestock break through a fence and cause damages to another’s property, the owner is strictly liable. Even in cases when the fence is torn down or broken by someone else, the owner of the animals is still liable under current law. The change will relieve the animal owner from liability for damages when the animals were released because of the actions or fault of another.

The third bill, SB1414, protects the privacy of Missouri farmers who voluntarily disclose information for certain government programs from facing sunshine inquiries for this information unless it is needed to protect consumer and animal health. It encourages partnership between private citizens and government programs in order to help gather more research and further improve our understanding of animal disease traceability. Missouri Cattlemen’s Association (MCA) President Keith Stevens stated, “Missouri cattle farmers and ranchers certainly want to be transparent, but should not fear their private information being public knowledge because of participation in a government program. The threat of agro-terrorism is real and this legislation helps reduce this threat for Missouri farm and ranch families.” This legislation proactively addresses a problem that will only intensify with time in the generation of “Big Data.”

The General Assembly overrode the veto of HB1631 that would require Missourians to show a photo ID in order to vote. The bill would implement a system of voter identification in the state if Missouri voters approve a constitutional change that is on the November ballot. This change is vital to protect the integrity of the election process and prevent voter fraud.

If the constitutional change is approved by voters, Missouri will then implement a system of voter identification and require voters to present a specified form of ID in order to vote in a public election. Valid forms of identification would include photo IDs issued by the state, the federal government or the military. The bill would require the state to pay for individuals to obtain a valid ID if they do not have one, or to obtain documents necessary for an ID.

Finally, SB656, which I received many, many emails and phone calls in support of the override, did indeed pass, strengthening the gun rights of law-abiding citizens. It is important to remember that Missouri’s law already allows anyone of age to carry a weapon openly with no permit or training. SB656’s Constitutional Carry portion allows a law-abiding citizen the freedom to carry a firearm in their purse or concealed under their clothing. It DOES NOT allow criminals or mentally ill to carry, nor does it change the current concealed carry permit laws.

SB656 also expands the castle doctrine by allowing persons who have been authorized by a property owner to be on or in the property to use deadly force as necessary in order to protect themselves and others. As well, the requirement that a person must attempt to retreat before using force is repealed in SB656 which allows a person to better protect themselves.