Missouri governor calls special legislative session

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday that he is calling state lawmakers into special session next month to consider bills he vetoed on science education and expanding drug treatment courts.

Parson said in a news release that the session would run during the week of Sept. 10, which is the same week that a veto session is set to begin Sept. 12. He stressed in the release that the special session is designed to fix problematic language in the two bills and is not intended to create division.

"When I addressed the General Assembly nearly three months ago, I pledged that I would change the tone and work with the legislature," Parson said. "This call is a step in delivering that promise."

One vetoed bill would have allowed high school computer science courses to count toward math, science or practical art credits needed for graduation. In a letter to lawmakers, Parson said he objected to a provision creating an online career awareness program for science, technology, engineering and mathematics professions because the detailed criteria for bidders "appear to be narrowly tailored to apply to only one company." His letter did not identify that company.

Parson also vetoed a wide-ranging bill dealing with treatment courts, judicial retirement plans and efforts to clean up abandoned property. In a letter to lawmakers, he said the bill appeared to violate constitutional prohibitions on changing a bill's original purpose and including multiple subjects. He also said the judicial pension provision appeared to unconstitutionally benefit only one judge, whom he didn't identify.

"These two issues were a part of the General Assembly's historic session as they passed a number of their priorities," Parson said in the news release. "By working together to come up with a more narrowly defined focus, we will have better served the people of Missouri."

Republican legislative leaders supported Parson's decision. President Pro Tem Ron Richard, a Republican from Joplin, said in a statement that lawmakers understand Parson's priorities include finding new workforce development programs and exploring innovation and that Parson would like to accomplish those before the end of the year.

"We respect those priorities, and as Senate Leader, I will do what I can to push his agenda forward," Richard said.

House Speaker Todd Richardson, a Republican from Poplar Bluff, said he appreciated Parson's "willingness to work closely with us to resolve these pressing issues that will have a positive impact on thousands of Missourians all across our state."


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