About 100 gun rights advocates rallied at the Capitol earlier in the day in favor of the gun legislation, while the national Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence said it was prepared to file a federal lawsuit against the state if the override attempt was successful.
Under the proposed legislation, Missouri would not have recognized federal laws that "infringe on the people's right to keep and bear arms." It also would have created a misdemeanor for federal officials who tried to enforce those measures.
In the days leading up to the veto session, the legislation came under fire from law enforcement and Attorney General Chris Koster, who released a letter last week criticizing the bill as "flawed public policy" that would prohibit local law enforcement from working with federal agencies.
Rep. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Couer, told the House that the bill had "many bad and unintended consequences."
"It turns law enforcement into criminals and criminals into victims," she said.
But supporters argued that the bill was necessary to strike back against what they see as a potential for federal overreach.
"We don't want anybody infringing on our rights in this great state," said Rep. John McCaherty, R-High Ridge.
The override passed in the House 109-49 but failed in the Senate 22-12.
Among their successes, GOP lawmakers overturned Nixon's veto of a bill that limits punitive damages in lawsuits against Doe Run. The lead mining company is facing several liability suits alleging that lead contamination has caused health problems. The company says the suits could put it out of business, costing 1,600 jobs. The new law bars punitive damages at mining sites that stopped operating by 1975, and caps other damages to $2.5 million.
Speaking in favor of the measure, Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, said the override would help save jobs and keep the facility from closing.
"This is not about not letting people seek restitution," he said. "It's about putting some reasonable caps."
In its final actions of the veto session, just before midnight the House voted down attempts to override Nixon's vetoes of legislation that sought to prevent foreign laws and a United Nations resolution from being applied in Missouri. Both had won veto-override votes earlier in the Senate.
Media coverage and critics of the foreign laws bill often described it in the context of the U.S. anti-Sharia Law movement. In more than 20 states, conservatives have pushed measures to highlight alleged influences of Islamist Sharia religious law in America. Others maintain it's a nonissue that is merely being used to whip up anti-Muslim sentiment.
Sen. Brian Nieves, a Washington Republican who sponsored the bill, denied that it specifically targeted Sharia Law. Nieves insisted that the bill was merely meant to ensure "that in Missouri, we are not going to have court cases decided by using foreign law," regardless of where those laws might originate.
But Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, called the legislation "bigotry at its highest level."
"A blind man can see that it is. ... That's exactly what it's about," Nasheed said from the Senate floor.
The U.N. bill, also sponsored by Nieves, sought to block implementation of a nonbinding United Nations plan called Agenda 21, which was adopted in 1992 to promote sustainable development.
(c)2013 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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Distributed by MCT Information Services
Original headline: Missouri Legislature fails to override vetoes of tax cut, gun legislation
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