Nixon maintains Republican-led Legislature missed chance to override on unemployment measure

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JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri — Gov. Jay Nixon says he's reviewing legal uncertainties surrounding a proposal to enact one of the nation's most restrictive unemployment laws.

The Democrat said again this week that he still believes Missouri senators missed their chance to overturn his veto of the bill by not doing so during the session that ended in May, when House members voted to override him.

The measure links jobless benefits to the unemployment rate. If the unemployment rate remains below 6 percent, benefits would be cut from the current 20 weeks to 13 weeks in January. Missouri's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.6 percent in August.

During Wednesday's session dedicated to reviewing vetoed bills, the Senate voted in favor of overturning Nixon's veto after failing to do take a vote during the regular session.

Typically, a vote by a two-thirds majority of lawmakers would mean the bill becomes law, but Nixon believes the Republican-controlled Legislature didn't do it in time because of the delayed Senate vote.

"As I said before, I think they missed their opportunity for that in the regular session," he said Thursday. "You don't take two whacks at a veto."

Democratic Sen. Scott Sifton sought to block consideration of the unemployment bill this week by asserting that an override vote is no longer timely under the state constitution and thus wasn't allowed under Senate rules.

But Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard rejected Sifton's assertion, nothing that the constitution contains no specific ban on legislators waiting until September to complete an override of a bill vetoed in the regular session.

Richard and Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe declined to say whether they would sue to force Nixon's administration to carry out the cuts to unemployment benefits, if it does not do so voluntarily.

Instead, Richard said he expected Nixon to treat the override as legitimate.

"Gov. Nixon served in this body and he was attorney general, I believe he's going to abide by the law," Richard said.

Nixon said he has no plans to sue lawmakers, but declined to say whether his administration will implement the measure.

Associated Press writer David A. Lieb contributed to this report. Follow Summer Ballentine at

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