Politics
2:13 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Nixon Makes Decision On Prevailing Wage, Abortion Bills And More

With just a couple days left before the deadline, Democratic Governor Jay Nixon announced his decision on the few bills he had left. We've compiled those decisions below.

Without his signature, Nixon has allowed legislation that will require doctors to be in the room for the initial dose of a drug used in medication abortions.

Nixon announced Friday he would not sign the bill that effectively prohibits the use of telemedicine to provide medication abortions in Missouri. Without the signature, the bill becomes law.

The Guttmacher Institute that supports abortion rights said 10 states require a prescribing doctor be present. Enforcement of the requirement has been temporarily blocked in North Dakota and Wisconsin because of litigation.

Planned Parenthood for the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri says it has not used telemedicine for medication abortions. But that option has been available since 2008 in Iowa.

Foreclosure Mediation

Nixon is allowing a state law to take effect that will nullify foreclosure mediation ordinances in St. Louis city and county.

The governor announced Friday that he would neither veto nor sign the bill. His lack of action means the bill will take effect as law on Aug. 28.

The measure makes real estate loans subject to only state and federal laws.

It's intended to overturn local ordinances that require mandatory mediation between lenders and homeowners before foreclosures.

Prevailing Wage

Missouri is adopting new wage requirements for construction projects on public roads and buildings.

Nixon said that he will allow a bill changing prevailing wage rates to take effect as law without his signature.

The prevailing wage essentially is a special minimum wage for public works projects. It's determined for each construction trade on a county-by-county basis according to voluntary surveys about wages.

But Republicans claim it leads to artificially high wages in rural areas when union rates get used.

The legislation divides the wage surveys by union and non-union contractors in rural counties, and bases the prevailing wage on whichever group reports more work hours. It also allows prior years' wages to be used when no surveys are returned.

Failing School Districts

Nixon also signed legislation allowing quicker state intervention in Missouri's failing school districts.

Under existing state law, school districts that lose state accreditation have two years before state education officials can step in. Nixon signed a measure Friday removing the waiting period.

The state Board of Education can prescribe conditions under which a local school board could continue overseeing a failing district. The state board also could set up an alternative governing structure, such as a special administrative board, merging the district with neighboring ones or splitting the district into several new ones. The law takes effect Aug. 28.

Missouri's three unaccredited districts are the Kansas City School District, the Normandy School District in St. Louis County and the Riverview Gardens School District in St. Louis County.

Doe Run

Nixon vetoed legislation that would have shielded a Missouri lead mining company from punitive damages in some contamination lawsuits.

Nixon said he rejected the bill Friday because it would have carved out an exemption for a particular industry and applied retroactively to lawsuits that already had been filed.

The measure would have protected Doe Run Resources Corp. from punitive damages in lead-illness lawsuits if a judge determines it is making "good faith" efforts to clean up contaminated mining sites. It would not have capped legal awards for other categories of damages such as medical costs or lost wages.

Doe Run has been working with the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up old sites in St. Francois County but currently faces 11 lawsuits related to them.

Lieutenant Gov. Vacancies

Nixon vetoed legislation that would have changed the procedure for filling vacancies in the lieutenant governor's office.

State law currently allows the governor to appoint a replacement if the secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, auditor or a U.S. senator leaves office. But there has been uncertainty about how the lieutenant governor would be replaced.

Under the legislation, a replacement would have been selected during the next general election. In the meantime, the departing officeholder's top aide would have performed the lieutenant governor's ministerial duties. Responsibilities as Senate president would have been handled by the Senate president pro tem, who is a state senator.

Nixon said Friday the measure created a "confusing and untenable process."

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter@csmcdaniel