(AP) – Missouri’s large Republican majorities were poised to put a conservative stamp on the state’s employment laws Wednesday by attempting to override vetoes of bills cutting jobless benefits to one of the shortest periods nationally and barring cities from boosting the minimum wage.
Legislators also plan to try to override Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill blocking certain immigrants from receiving college scholarships – a GOP effort that runs counter to what many other states are doing.
Missouri’s annual veto session, which begins at noon Wednesday, could feature override attempts on more than a dozen bills. The biggest prize for Republican legislative leaders would be to override Nixon’s veto of a right-to-work bill prohibiting workplace contracts with mandatory union fees, but resistance from some within their own ranks makes it a longshot for Missouri to become the 26th state to enact right-to-work.
Veto overrides require a two-thirds vote in each chamber. Republicans hold the supermajorities to make that happen, so long as they don’t have more than a few dissenters. Earlier this year, Republicans stuck together to override Nixon’s veto of a bill removing several thousand families from the welfare rolls by shortening how long they can receive cash payments.
The unemployment legislation is the latest prong in a Republican push to make the state more appealing to businesses, which finance jobless benefits through special taxes, and to shore up the benefit trust fund against future economic downturns.
It “puts one more notch in our belt that says to businesses – whether they’re here or we’re trying to get them here – ‘we’re a state that understands what business can do for our economy,'” sponsoring Sen. Mike Kehoe, a Jefferson City Republican, said earlier this year.
The bill would link the duration of benefits to the state’s unemployment rate, offering less aid when there are fewer people unemployed. If the jobless rate remains below 6 percent, the effect would be to reduce the current 20 weeks of benefits – which already is one of the shorter periods nationally – to as few as 13 weeks starting in January. That would be lower than every state except North Carolina, where benefits currently are capped at 12 weeks under a similar sliding scale.