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Day 4: Beer, fantasy sports bills go to governor; photo ID to the ballot; paycheck protection dies

St. Louis Public Radio file photo

Updated at 2:20 a.m. with override failure - A photo ID proposal will definitely be on the ballot, and it will be up to Gov. Jay Nixon to decide if more cold beer is on the way.

But the surprising news actually came early Friday morning: The Senate failed to override Nixon's veto of the paycheck protection or — depending on your position on the measure — the deception bill.

Republicans fell one vote short when they attempted the override, which had already been done in the House.

Democrats had promised to block the override attempt, which they did for roughly four hours. Then, however, they allowed the vote to go forward. When tallied, it came in at 22-10, one short of the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto.

The failed bill would have required some public-worker labor unions to get annual written permission from their employees before withholding union dues. It was seen by union supporters as an overall attack that included efforts to make Missouri a right-to-work state.

The deciding vote was cast by Democrat Maria Chappelle-Nadal of University City, who actually voted for the bill back in March. She began the debate by accusing some St. Louis-area trade unions of having a history of racism toward African Americans.

She also strongly criticized Nixon’s response to the unrest in Ferguson nearly two years ago.

When she sat down 40 minutes later, she made no indication which way she would vote. But when the vote came, she said “No,” upholding Nixon’s veto.

“The ultimate question, really, for my decision was ‘What is going to allow you to sleep at night?’” she told reporters after the vote. “‘What is going to allow you to keep your integrity?’”

Chappelle-Nadal said, though, her “no” vote doesn’t mean that she’s going to support other labor union issues, like opposition to right-to-work.

“I’m taking everything on a case-by-case basis from here on out,” she said. “Case-by-case, period.”

Afterward the vote, Missouri AFL-CIO president Mike Lewis released the following statement:

“We thank and applaud the members of the Missouri Senate who stood up for working people and voted to sustain Gov. Nixon’s veto of this flawed paycheck deception bill. The sole purpose of this legislation was to weaken and ultimately silence the voices of those who speak up for working families. And we know that big corporations won’t stop in their efforts to silence the voices of working people. So we will focus our efforts on electing candidates this November that will support all working families and oppose legislation like paycheck deception.”

On the other side, Rachel Payton, deputy state director for Americans for Prosperity, was not happy with the vote:

“It is disheartening to see our state legislators vote against worker freedoms. This bill would have allowed Missouri public workers to more easily opt-in or out of their unions. It’s only fair that they have these rights. Our organization has worked tirelessly to make sure our activist base made their voices heard in support of paycheck protection. It’s sad to see when state senators don’t listen to their constituents and vote against their interests. We will continue to hold officials accountable for their votes and our grassroots army will be informed about how their legislators voted.”

Voter identity

As expected, the Missouri House overwhelmingly approved Thursday a proposed constitutional amendment to allow the state to require that all voters show a government-issued photo ID before casting a ballot.  Since the Senate acted earlier, the House’s action sends the proposal to voters. Gov. Jay Nixon will decide whether it goes on the ballot in August or November.

beer cooler
Credit Todd Dwyer | Flickr
The General Assembly voted for more cold beer in Missouri.

It’s also up to Nixon to decide the fate of House Bill 919, which would expand sales of cold beer in the state.

The bill would allow beer companies to lease portable refrigerators to grocers and convenience stores. It also would allow sales of refillable draft beer containers, known as growlers, at those same stores. State Rep. Robert Cornejo, R-St. Peters, carried the bill in the House, which approved it, 94-59, and sent the measure to the governor’s desk.

“For all of us that want to talk about the free market and getting there, and passing legislation that does it, this is the bill,” Cornejo said.  “This is good legislation; it’s basically a glorified pilot project. … There is a three-year sunset on this.”

Opponents argue that big brewers like Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors would push retailers to stock their brands in the portable fridges over smaller craft brewers.

“You’re going to have several big coolers with lots of advertising for the big guys, and the likelihood of getting the little craft beers into those coolers that have all the logos that go with the packaging of the big brewers is pretty small,” said Rep. Keith Frederick, R-Rolla. “The big brewers are going to be able to do it, the little craft brewers don’t have as much money, (and) the in-store advertising is going to be substantial for the big guys … (thrown) in for free.”

Bill regulates fantasy sport sites

What began as a seemingly out-of-left-field request in Gov. Jay Nixon’s final State of the State Address is now a fully approved bill on its way to his desk. 

The Missouri House on Thursday voted 131-13 to pass HB1941, which gives the Missouri Gaming Commission the authority to license daily fantasy sports sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings.

The state would collect roughly 21.5 percent of a daily fantasy site's annual income and limit players to age 21 and older. It was sponsored by Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob.

“There have been negotiations with the governor’s office, as well as the daily fantasy sports industry, and we’ve come to a compromise,” Fitzpatrick said. “The industry is supportive of this bill; it’s something that I think is acceptable, and most importantly it will give the residents of Missouri the opportunity to continue to participate.”

Senator once again kills drug bill

State Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, continued his long-standing opposition to a  state prescription drug monitoring program. A physician, Schaaf contends that a statewide database of patient prescription history jeopardizes patient privacy. 

Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph
Credit Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, has been an adamant opponent of a prescription drug monitoring program.

“We want every citizen in this state to give up a little bit of their liberty, and put your sensitive information on this government database so we can use that information to prevent someone else from breaking the law,” Schaaf  said.

He briefly filibustered the bill, which then was dropped.

Supporters argue that the database would be used to help combat drug addiction and multiple purchases of drugs used to make methamphetamine.  

Photo ID generates strong response

Although the House passage was never in doubt,  the measure — officially called SJR53 — touched off an emotional debate.

Rep. Brandon Ellington may 2016
Credit Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio
Rep. Brandon Ellington compared the voter ID requirement to a poll tax.

Rep. Brandon Ellington, D-Kansas City, led the opposition by accusing backers of seeking to put in place a defacto “poll tax.”

Requiring a government-issued photo ID, he said, “changes a fundamental right to a ‘privilege.’ ”

Shamed Dogan May 2016
Credit Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio
Rep. Shamed Dogan said he would not support a bill that disenfranchised people.

Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, asserted that requiring a photo ID was “needed for election integrity.”

Dogan, who, like Ellington, is African American, tersely added that “there’s no way I’d be supporting this if it disenfranchised anyway.”

Soon after the vote, both sides weighed in. The Democratic-leaning group, Progress Missouri, promised to “fight this extreme measure’’ when it gets to the ballot.

Jay Ashcroft, a Republican candidate for secretary of state, lauded its passage. Ashcroft earlier had been proposing an initiative-petition drive to get the proposal on the ballot if the General Assembly failed to do so. The measure’s chief Senate sponsor, Sen. Will Kraus, is Ashcroft’s GOP rival.

Other action toward the end of the legislative session

Missouri House expands legal use of deadly force; Stand Your Ground now in Senate

One of the major crime bills in the legislature was amended in the House to include a controversial Stand Your Ground provision. That prompted a filibuster in the Senate, which led Sen. Bob Dixon to shelve the measure.

Missouri legislature adds restrictions on municipalities, changes tax sharing

This year’s bill would curb ordinance violations, such as tall weeds or housing code problems. It would also reduce the maximum traffic fine to $225 and would create a sliding scale for non-traffic fines. 

One step forward, one step back for anti-opioid legislation in Missouri

Early in the last week the General Assembly approved a measure that would let pharmacists sell naloxone, an opioid overdose antidote, without a prescription. But on Thursday, the Senate apparently killed a proposal that would set up a prescription drug monitoring database. Missouri is the only state that does not have one.

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.
Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.