2013 marks record year for Nixon vetoes

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A tax cut, legislation aimed at combatting “Agenda 21″ and Islamic law, and a bill that could have criminalized journalists for publishing the name of someone who was a gun owner were among the nearly 30 vetoes given by Gov. Jay Nixon this year – the highest number of vetoes in one year since Nixon was elected in 2009.

“Some of the bills passed showed well drafted, bipartisan efforts,” Nixon said. “Other bills fell far short of that high bar.”

The state’s former attorney general who has surrounded himself with a loyal team of lawyers and close confidants, Nixon said he was intimately involved in the bill review process, where his team reviewed the intended consequences of bills, the historic perspective, and the unintended consequences.

Nixon has vetoed 29 bills this year, the most in his term since he was sworn in in 2009. That year, he vetoed 24 bills, not including budget line-item vetoes. He said he wasn’t keeping a tally, but instead looked at the bills on their own merits and looking for critical drafting errors. That thorough review process is what led Nixon to find a $200 million accidental tax increase on prescription drugs, or to oppose a bill that would have named a highway after a “slave rock.”

Nixon, whose future political plans remain unclear as he serves his final term as governor, said his new, more combative posture toward the legislature is not political.

“At this time in my career,” he said, “It doesn’t get in your head, ‘how does this help me.’”

Nixon said he believes his nearly three decades in elected office has given him insight into how Missourians feel on particular issues: “I think I’ve got a good sense of where Missourians are.”

Nixon said he is not thinking about which bills lawmakers will try to override when they return to Jefferson City in September for the annual veto session, only adding that he hoped more members would become “sticklers for detail” and focus on the longer-term impact of the bills.

On Friday, Nixon announced he had signed legislation that aimed to modernize the duties of the state auditor, allow the state Board of Education to more quickly intervene in failing school districts, and an omnibus natural resources.

As he has in the past, Nixon allowed legislation aiming to further restrict abortions in Missouri to go into effect without his signature. Planned Parenthood Advocates said in a statement they were disappointed with Nixon’s veto.