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Gov. Nixon Expresses Veto Power

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Missouri Governor Jay Nixon
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed legislation aimed at keeping the names of people who committed offenses as juveniles off Missouri’s public sex offender registry.

The governor said Wednesday the legislation is too broad and would apply to anyone regardless of the crime that was committed. Nixon says crime victims would have been deprived the chance to be heard before someone’s name is removed from the public websites, which are aimed at protecting the public.

The vetoed legislation also ultimately would have allowed juveniles to petition the court for removal from the sex offender registry.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) Gov. Jay Nixon on Tuesday vetoed agriculture legislation that would have ended a decades-old state ban on foreign ownership of Missouri farmland.

The provision lifting the ban was included in two broad agricultural bills. The Democratic governor said the provision was added to the legislation relatively late in the process. It would have capped foreign ownership at 1 percent.

“Whether, or to what degree, Missouri agricultural land should be foreign owned is an important policy choice for the people of Missouri, a decision that should be made through their elected representatives only after the specific proposal has been sufficiently vetted and openly considered,” Nixon said in a veto message.

Missouri is one of several Midwestern states with laws passed during the 1970s amid concerns over Japanese investment that prohibit or restrict foreign farmland ownership.

Rep. Casey Guernsey, who was involved with the issue this session, has said the current law does not work and that there are loopholes allowing foreign owners to obscure their assets behind domestic-based groups.

State lawmakers approved the agricultural measures shortly before the announcement of plans for Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd., of China, to buy Smithfield Foods Inc., in a deal that would require shareholder approval and a federal regulatory review. A spokeswoman for Smithfield Foods said last month the two sides identified land policies during their discussions and that it presents no obstacles to “closing the proposed combination.”

Guernsey, R-Bethany, said he did not learn about the Smithfield deal until after Missouri lawmakers ended their legislative session in mid-May.

A Columbia-based organization that opposes corporate consolidation of agriculture said the broader agricultural bills had been tainted by the foreign ownership issue.

Nixon also cited objections to a provision dealing with animal trespassing. He said the measure would not have required demonstrating that an animal had actually wandered onto another’s land and could have been applied to livestock and other animals such as dogs and cats. The governor also objected to a portion that he said would have exempted Cape Girardeau County from a statewide standard prohibiting the Land Reclamation Commission and the Department of Natural Resources from permitting mining operations within 1,000 feet of a school that has existed for at least five years.

Nixon on Tuesday signed into a law another broad agricultural bill that includes sections on farm loans, University of Missouri extension districts and urban agricultural zones.

Extension councils will be allowed to form single or multi-county district that then would be allowed to put a property tax on the ballot in that district of no more than 30 cents for every $100 of assessed valuation. Extension councils exist in each county and are charged with bringing education and research to all parts of the state.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed two bills that could have made it harder for some people to receive jobless benefits by broadening what constitutes “misconduct” on the job.

Unemployment benefits can be denied to workers who are fired because of misconduct.

Nixon vetoed the bills Tuesday. The governor said they would have greatly expanded the types of misconduct that disqualify people for jobless benefits to include activities outside the workplace and outside normal working hours.

Proponents of the legislation said the broader definition would help protect the integrity of the state’s unemployment system.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon pointed to privacy concerns Tuesday in vetoing a proposed online database that businesses could use to check a prospective employee’s workers’ compensation claims.

Nixon said in a message explaining the veto that such a database is “an affront to the privacy of our citizens and does not receive my approval.” The Democratic governor added in a written statement that there is a “stark contrast” between lawmakers’ action and statements on privacy issues, alluding to the recent dispute between the Republican-led Legislature and his administration over the practice of making electronic copies of birth certificates and other personal documents from people applying for driver’s licenses.

“While professing to champion privacy rights, this General Assembly quietly passed a bill to create and allow broad access to a new electronic database containing the personal information of hundreds of thousands of law-abiding Missourians,” Nixon said. He added: “Invading Missourians’ privacy will not grow our economy or move our state forward.”

Earlier this week, Nixon signed a law that reverses his administration’s 6-month-old policy of making electronic copies of personal documents from driver’s license applicants. State lawmakers had convened several investigatory committees looking into the process.

The workers’ compensation legislation vetoed by Nixon would have permitted an employer to provide a potential hire’s name and Social Security number to identify the date of workers’ compensation claims and whether the claim is open or closed. The state Division of Workers’ Compensation estimated an online database initially would include 554,000 claim records, with about 13,000 records added each year.

Sen. Mike Cunningham, who sponsored the legislation, referenced the driver’s license dispute while criticizing Nixon’s veto.

“I find it interesting that the governor is suddenly interested in privacy when his administration has been breaking the law in the Department of Revenue scandal,” said Cunningham, R-Rogersville.

Among the issues lawmakers have examined regarding the driver’s licensing procedures has been whether Nixon’s administration sought to comply with the federal 2005 Real ID Act setting criteria for photo-identification cards to be accepted at airports and federal buildings. Missouri passed a 2009 law barring the state from adopting policies to comply with it because of concerns that the federal government was overreaching. The Revenue Department said its licensing procedures meet or exceed the Real ID Act, but insists the agency implemented them for the state’s own security goals.

Supporters of the workers’ comp database said the legislation could speed the hiring process and help bosses and workers. Cunningham said information about workers’ compensation claims is available by written request and takes about two weeks to receive. He said the legislation was aimed at preventing workers’ compensation abuses and that an electronic database would have brought Missouri into the 21st century.

The Missouri AFL-CIO said the veto supports workers.

“The bill would have unfairly given employers online access to personal data of Missouri workers injured on the job,” Missouri AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Mike Louis said. “Our state elected officials should work to make workplaces safer not violate privacy rights of hardworking Missourians.”

Cunningham said he will speak with colleagues before deciding whether to attempt to override Nixon’s veto. The legislation won approval in the Senate 32-0 and in the House by a vote of 91-67, short of the two-thirds majority needed to override Nixon’s veto and enact the law. State lawmakers return to the state Capitol in September.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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