The Rundown
5:23 am
Wed May 7, 2014

Political Rundown: On Veto Overides, New BFFs And Governors' Clout

Politics can be a 24/7 occupation, as anyone with a cell phone, computer or cable subscription knows. It's not hard to find political news, commentary or just plain rants. They are everywhere. Sometimes it takes a little more digging to find the context, perspective or background on major issues of the day.

Once a week, our political team shares stories that gave them insight into the news of the day or perhaps just some reading pleasure.

Veto overrides

Missouri legislators this week successfully overrode Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of the tax cut bill, SB 509, which would phase in a decrease in the individual income tax rate to 5.5 percent, down from the current 6 percent, along with a 25 percent cut in taxes for some types of businesses.

Lawmakers in several other states have recently challenged vetoes from their governors on various matters, but those efforts came up short — in some cases, intentionally.

Laura Vozzella of the Washington Post details the Virginia General Assembly’s failure last month to override any of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s vetoes from their regular session this year.

Meanwhile, an override battle just concluded in Missouri’s neighbor to the southwest, Oklahoma.  The Tulsa World’s Barbara Hoberock reports on a successful veto override by the Oklahoma House of a gun rights bill backed by the NRA, but the Oklahoma Senate chose not to pursue an override.

And in Maine, Medicaid expansion was vetoed by that state’s Republican governor while the Democrat-led legislature fell a few votes short of overriding the veto.  Robert Libby of the Maine Center for Civic Education wrote an opinion piece decrying the veto for the Portland Daily Sun. (Marshall Griffin)

McCaskill, Gillibrand now on same side

For months, U.S. Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., were on opposite sides in a highly publicized battle over how best to address sexual assault in the military.  But now, the two have moved on and now are working together to combat sexual assault on college campuses.

The two have teamed up on a bill aimed at forcing universities and colleges to do more to address sex crimes on campuses, which often have been hidden or ignored.  Recent figures show that 20 percent of women college students report being victims.

Politico recently detailed how and why the two have now forged a bond on the tragic issue.

Claire McCaskill and Kirsten Gillibrand
Credit / Claire McCaskill's congressional office

On Tuesday, Gillibrand and McCaskill appeared together on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports,'' to lay out their mutual aim — and highlight their mutual respect.

And in the ultimate demonstration that they are indeed now on the same political page, the two senators even posted a joint photo on Twitter that shows them sharing an umbrella.  (Jo Mannies)

Former governors try different roads to relevancy

Former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt has been largely out of the Show Me State’s political universe since leaving office in 2009. But that doesn’t mean he’s been spending post-government life watching re-runs of  "The Simpsons."

Blunt is head of the American Automobile Policy Council, the lobbying arm of the “Big Three” car companies. A USA Today profile said the goal of the group is to “cajole members of Congress, federal regulators, and foreign trading partners on a gamut of economic, environmental and trade issues.”

Blunt’s second act has been chronicled before, most recently in 2012 by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. But it perhaps shows that leaving the governorship doesn’t necessarily mean becoming irrelevant in the policy arena.

For instance, former Gov. Bob Holden has reinvented himself as an expert on the state’s relationship with China. He’s also hosted a series of forums over the years that have shined a light on the state’s political and policy culture.

And former Gov. Kit Bond has re-emerged after a lengthy U.S. Senate stint to lobby for Medicaid expansion in Missouri. He’s also espoused the benefit of increasing trade with Indonesia, building on his expertise about Asian foreign policy he cultivated throughout the years.

It remains to be seen which path Gov. Jay Nixon will take after he leaves office in early 2017, when his second term comes to an end. 

He could try to run for something else, such as the U.S. Senate or Jefferson County assessor. Or he may follow Blunt or Holden in transitioning out of politics altogether, but still making a difference in another capacity. (Jason Rosenbaum)

Free speech is in the eye of the beholder

Free speech is the backbone of American democracy. Well, at least when I agree with the speech.

According to a new study, that's how many of the U.S. Supreme Court justices feel.

The New York Times wrote about the study, which was done by looking at 4,519 votes in 516 cases over a span of more than 50 years.

“While liberal justices are over all more supportive of free speech claims than conservative justices,” the study found, “the votes of both liberal and conservative justices tend to reflect their preferences toward the ideological groupings of the speaker.”

According to the results, the largest gap belongs to Justice Antonin Scalia, who supported 65 percent of conservative speech, but only 20 percent of liberal speech. Scalia was a Reagan-appointee.

As for the liberal side, the New York Times reports it's more subtle.

The Roberts court’s more liberal members “present a more complex story,” the study found. All supported free expression more often when the speaker was liberal, but the results were statistically significant only for Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired in 2010. In the case of Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the difference was negligible. And it is too soon to say anything empirically meaningful about Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

(Story)(Study) (Chris McDaniel)