The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that recent changes to the state’s unemployment insurance program unconstitutional on a technicality.
The unemployment changes were passed in HB 150 this past spring. The law reduced the state’s unemployment benefits to 13 weeks, one of the lowest in the country. Before the passage of the bill Missouri already had a low benefits period – 20 weeks – among the nation’s lowest.
The bill was vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon. That veto was then overridden by a party-line vote in the Missouri House.
In the opinion, the majority found that the bill was not a “late-vetoed bill,” meaning a bill vetoed in the last five days of of a legislative session. The majority argued only late-vetoed bills qualified to be vetoed during session.
“Since …the people of Missouri gradually have restricted the legislature’s power regarding which bills it can reconsider and when the reconsideration can occur,” Judge George Draper III writes. “The subsequent amendments enacted by the people of Missouri have made a clear distinction between ‘every bill’ returned by the governor and late-vetoed bills. This Court must presume these amendments have meaning and were intended to define the scope of the September veto session.”
Basically the court ruled that the state constitution states that the Senate’s failure to pass the bill by the end of the 2015 regular legislative session made its passage meaningless.
Republicans in Missouri plan to vote on the legislation again in 2017.