Viking funeral and motorcycle helmet bills headline Missouri veto session

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri lawmakers are back in Jefferson City on Wednesday for the constitutionally-required veto session. No overrides are expected.

Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, speaks on the House floor on May 17, 2019 in Jefferson City (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

The state Constitution requires lawmakers to convene Wednesday at noon for the annual veto session. The Senate and House will both gavel-in at the same time.

Governor Mike Parson (R) vetoed six bills this year. The two most high-profile bills involve outdoor cremations and allowing motorcyclists to ride without a helmet.

Parson vetoed both of those, expressing safety concerns.

House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, spoke to Missourinet Tuesday afternoon on the Capitol lawn, following a “Back the Blue” license plate ceremony. Speaker Haahr tells Missourinet he doesn’t expect any veto overrides.

“The House bills that were vetoed, we’ve talked to each one of the (bill) sponsors and each of them have indicated that they don’t plan to offer theirs for a vote,” Haahr says. “And so I don’t anticipate any overrides this session.”

On the other side of the Capitol building, State Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, tells Missourinet he doesn’t expect any override attempts in either the House or Senate.

It takes a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers to override a veto.

The governor vetoed legislation from State Sen. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City, that would have allowed outdoor “Viking funerals.” Senator Holsman told the “Kansas City Star” this summer that Viking funerals “have been around since the dawn of man.”

Holsman’s bill would have allowed funeral directors to perform cremations at an outdoor human cremation facility. Under the bill, only a licensed funeral director could have performed a cremation at an outdoor facility.

In his veto message, Governor Parson expressed concerns about health and safety issues, and called on lawmakers to do more vetting on the issue.

“The burial of our loved ones or the disposal of their remains is deeply personal and should be treated with the utmost care and respect. Without more thorough vetting to ensure that outdoor cremations can be conducted in a manner that fully disposes of the entire remains while also addressing the health and safety concerns of individuals who may be impacted nearby, I am not comfortable with allowing these types of ceremonies to be conducted in our state,” Parson’s July veto message reads, in part.

As for the motorcycle helmet bill, that’s a perennial issue that’s been debated annually in Jefferson City for at least the past 20 years.

The organization “Freedom of the Road Riders” and lawmakers like State Rep. Andrew McDaniel, R-Deering, support allowing motorcyclists the option of riding without a helmet, if they have health insurance. They say it’s an issue of freedom.

Governor Parson vetoed the bill, expressing safety concerns raised earlier by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) about crashes and injuries.

Governor Parson is the third governor to veto the bill in the past 20 years.

Then-Governor Mel Carnahan (D) vetoed a similar motorcycle helmet bill in 1999, and then-Governor Jay Nixon (D) vetoed a similar bill in 2009. Those two vetoes were not overridden.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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