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   PHOENIX (AP) — Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer slapped down the right wing of her own party, vetoing a bill pushed by social conservatives that would have allowed people with sincerely held religious beliefs to refuse to serve gays.
   The conservative governor said she could not sign a bill that was not only unneeded but would damage the state's improving business environment and divide its citizens.
   Senate Bill 1062 had set off a national debate over gay rights, religion and discrimination and subjected Arizona to blistering criticism from major corporations and political leaders from both parties.
   Loud cheers erupted outside the Capitol building immediately after Brewer made her announcement Wednesday night.
   Brewer pushed back hard against the GOP conservatives who forced the bill forward by citing examples of religious rights infringements in other states.
   "I have not heard one example in Arizona where a business owner's religious liberty has been violated," Brewer said. "The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences."
   And she chastised the GOP-controlled state Legislature for sending her a divisive bill instead of working on a state budget that continues her economic expansion policies or an overhaul of Arizona's broken child welfare system, her top priorities.
   In a reference to the gay marriage debate that has expanded across the nation, she reached out to the religious right with sympathy but said 1062 was not the solution.
   "Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes," she said. "However, I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve. It could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and nobody could ever want."
   The bill was designed to give added protection from lawsuits to people who assert their religious beliefs in refusing service to gays or others who offend their beliefs. But opponents called it an open attack on gays that invited discrimination.
   Arizona was thrust into the national spotlight last week after both chambers of the state legislature approved it. As the days passed, more and more groups, politicians and average citizens weighed in against Senate Bill 1062. Many took to social media to criticize the bill.
   Prominent business groups said it would be another black eye for the state that saw a national backlash over its 2010 immigration-crackdown law, SB1070, and warned that businesses looking to expand into the state may not do so if bill became law.
   Companies such as Apple Inc. and American Airlines and politicians including GOP Sen. John McCain and former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney were among those who urged Brewer to veto the legislation. The Hispanic National Bar Association cancelled its 2015 convention in Phoenix.
   In addition, three Republicans who had voted for the bill reversed course and two said it was a mistake. They said in a letter to Brewer that while the intent of their vote "was to create a shield for all citizens' religious liberties, the bill has been mischaracterized by its opponents as a sword for religious intolerance."
   Enough lawmakers have said they're against the bill to ensure there will be no override of the governor's veto.
   SB 1062 allows people to claim their religious beliefs as a defense against claims of discrimination. Backers cite a New Mexico Supreme Court decision that allowed a gay couple to sue a photographer who refused to document their wedding, even though the law that allowed that suit doesn't exist in Arizona.
   Sen. Al Melvin, a Republican who is running for governor and voted for the bill, said he was disappointed by the veto.
   "I am sorry to hear that Governor Brewer has vetoed this bill. I'm sure it was a difficult choice for her, but it is a sad day when protecting liberty is considered controversial," Melvin said.
   Democrats said it was a veiled attempt to legally discriminate against gay people.
   Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, said he would remain vigilant of other legislation that could also target gays.
   "The effect is that again we got a black eye," Gallego said. "But it also shows that Arizona can stand united"
   The Center for Arizona Policy helped write the bill and argued it was needed to protect against increasingly activist federal courts and simply clarifies existing state law. It accused opponents of mischaracterizing the bill and threatening boycotts of Arizona.
   "It is truly a disappointing day in our state and nation when lies and personal attacks can overshadow the truth," said Cathi Herrod, the leader of the group.
   Similar religious-protection legislation has been introduced in Ohio, Mississippi, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee and Oklahoma, but Arizona's plan is the only one that has been passed by a state legislature. The efforts are stalled in Idaho and Kansas, and was withdrawn in Ohio Wednesday among concerns it would have unintended consequences.
   The push in Arizona comes as an increasing number of conservative states grapple with ways to counter the growing legality of gay marriage. Arizona has a ban on gay marriage.
   Federal judges have recently struck down those bans in Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia, but those decisions are under appeal.
   On Wednesday, a federal judge declared Texas' ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, but he left it in place until an appeals court can rule on the case.
Published in National News
   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers plan to make another attempt at cutting income taxes during their 2014 session.
   Democratic Governor Jay Nixon vetoed an income tax cut bill passed earlier this year, and majority party Republicans were unable to override it.
   House and Senate leaders say an income tax cut will be an early priority when lawmakers convene January 8th.
   Representative T.J. Berry, who sponsored the vetoed bill, says next year's version will leave out some of the provisions to which Nixon objected. One of those dropped sections would have automatically cut state income tax rates even further if Congress enacted a law making it easier for states to collect taxes on sales made over the Internet.
   Bill sponsor Senator Will Kraus says lawmakers want to simplify the legislation and lower its cost.
 
Published in Local News

   Governor Jay Nixon's veto of a controversial gun rights measure will stand.  

   The override of HB-436 had passed the Missouri House 109-49 Wednesday afternoon, but the override attempt fell a single vote short in the Senate Wednesday night (22-12).  

   The legislation declared that any federal policies that "infringe on the people's right to keep and bear arms" shall be invalid in Missouri.  It would have allow state charges to be brought against federal authorities who attempted to enforce federal gun laws.

   After the Senate vote Wednesday night, Nixon issues a statement applauding the Senate's action to sustain his veto of a bill he called "unnecessary, unconstitutional and unsafe."

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers have voted to override a line-item budget veto of $1 million to help rebuild a vocational education school in northeast Missouri.

The House's 112-47 vote was the first taken Wednesday as lawmakers considered 33 vetoes by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. Senators then approved the override 28-5.

At issue is money targeted for the Pike-Lincoln Technical Center, which was damaged by a fire. Although the school had insurance, bill supporters said it was not enough to outfit the building with computers and make it accessible to people with disabilities.

Nixon said he vetoed the bill because of the source of the money. He said lawmakers want to pay for the repairs from a fund dedicated for the state school funding formula.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Senate has voted to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of an agriculture measure.

The legislation includes changes to Missouri's animal abuse and neglect law and a longer maximum prison sentence for stealing livestock. It also would replace a prohibition on foreign ownership of farmland with a 1 percent cap.

Nixon had objected to the provisions on foreign ownership and animal abuse.

The Senate voted 23-10 Wednesday to override the veto, sending the measure to the House, where 109 votes are needed to override. The House passed the bill earlier 133-21.

Proponents of the bill contend changes to the animal abuse and neglect law are needed and that tougher punishment for stealing livestock could help combat cattle rustling.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is cheering the decision of lawmakers to sustain his veto of an income tax cut bill.

The House voted 94-67 Wednesday to override Nixon's veto, well short of the 109 votes needed for a two-thirds majority.

Nixon issued a statement Wednesday saying the vote was "a defining moment for our state and a victory for all Missourians."

He called the legislation "fiscally irresponsible" and asserted that it would have "defunded our schools and weakened our economy."

Fifteen Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the veto override.

Republican Party leaders had said the legislation was needed to help businesses compete with neighboring states that have recently cut taxes.

The bill would have gradually reduced income taxes both for businesses and individuals.

Published in Local News
Tuesday, 03 September 2013 03:30

Analysis: Huge MO tax cut largely hypothetical

   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Governor Jay Nixon says a clause in the income tax cut bill that he vetoed could have triggered a $1.2 billion run on the state treasury.

   Attorney General Chris Koster agreed with Nixon's legal analysis this past week. But the projection remains largely hypothetical.

   The Missouri bill would trigger a one-half of a percent reduction in state income tax rates if the federal government enacts a measure making it easier for states to collect online sales taxes.

   That bill has stalled in the U.S. House. But if it passes, then all of Missouri's roughly 2.8 million income taxpayers would have to amend three years of tax returns for Nixon's projections to hit in a single year.

   The courts likely would have to determine whether the retroactive tax refund is legal.

 
Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers could attempt to override Governor Jay Nixon's veto of restrictions on lawsuits from uninsured motorists.

Under the legislation, uninsured drivers forfeit the ability to collect noneconomic damages from an insured driver. That would not apply if the insured driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It also would not apply to an uninsured motorist who lost coverage within the past six months for failing to pay premiums.

Missouri requires auto insurance.

Supporters contend it could encourage people to comply with the insurance requirement and would prevent those without insurance from driving up costs for the system. Opponents say there already are penalties for driving without insurance and that the bill protects those who break the law and hurt someone.

Lawmakers consider veto overrides September 11th.

Published in Local News

   Texas Governor Rick Perry says that unless Missouri lawmakers override Governor Jay Nixon's veto of an income tax cut, he won't be the only governor trying to lure business from the Show-me State.  Perry made the comments Thursday evening while speaking at a pro-tax cut rally in Chesterfield.  

   Perry had spent the day in the St. Louis area pushing for the override of Nixon's veto of House Bill 253.

   Nixon crisscrossed the state Thursday, telling crowds that the tax cut would imperil critical services like education and risk the state's Triple-A tax rating. 

   Both men spent Thursday morning discussing their positions with McGraw Milhaven on his KTRS morning show.  Nixon continued to criticize the Texas Governor for trying to "poach" business, while Perry said it's merely competition in a very competitive arena.

   Perry also told McGraw that $40 million in business leaves Missouri for Texas every year, although he could not name any specific business. Nixon contests that figure.

   The Missouri Governor said the bottom line is that states should be competing against the world for a piece of the economic pie, not slicing into each other's portion.

   The story made national headlines after KTRS management rejected Perry's ad campaign aimed at convincing Missouri businesses to move to the Lone Star state.
Published in Local News

Governor Jay Nixon spoke at the St. Louis City Police Department, defending his veto of a Missouri House Bill.

The legislation, House Bill 301 would have removed hundreds of criminals who committed sex crimes when they were under the age of 18 from online sex offender registries. The proposal would allow sex offenders to petition the court for removal from the registry. Nixon said the bill is flawed because it does not consider the seriousness of the criminal's offenses.

The legislation would remove around 870 people from the registry.

 

Published in Local News
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