by Sam Levin
Are Christmas and Thanksgiving under attack in Missouri?
That seems to be the thinking behind a bill that the Missouri legislature passed and sent to the governor's desk, which would prohibit government from banning or restricting the practice, mention, celebration or discussion of federal holidays.
But Governor Jay Nixon, who vetoed the bill yesterday, says there are several problems with the bill, including the fact that it could actually prevent local governments from placing restrictions on fireworks...which could be especially problematic when there are severe fire risks.
Nixon, who has been rapidly vetoing and approving bills over the last several weeks, framed this piece of legislation -- House Bill 278 -- as one of the many efforts aimed at solving nonexistent problems with laws that would have negative, unintended consequences.
"As a result, local governments would be hampered in their efforts to enforce existing fireworks ordinances around July 4th. More troubling, House Bill No. 278 would greatly frustrate a ban on fireworks imposed during a period of severe fire risk," Nixon says in a statement fired off yesterday.
His formal veto letter, on view below, says:
House Bill No. 278 constitutes a direct assault on local government authority and curtails the flexibility that cities and counties need to address pressing public health and safety concerns.
The language is also broad enough that public sector employees could also demand leave from work in order to celebrate any federal holiday, according to Nixon, who says that this could cause staffing shortages for essential government functions.
The bill comes from Republican Rep. Rick Brattin, who, you may recall, got national attention for introducing an anti-evolution bill this session.
In addition to protecting creationism in schools, Brattin was also, it seems, interested in protecting holidays.
The bill does not mention any specific holidays, but Brattin tells the Associated Press that the legislation was aimed at protecting Christmas and Thanksgiving, which he argues have come under criticisms from groups seeking to "wipe out public references to religion."
He said, "In schools, especially, they're not even allowed to mention the word."
Nixon apparently does not agree that this is a legitimate concern -- but thinks that public safety is.
Nixon announced this veto yesterday alongside his veto of Senate Bill 265, a bill to block the so-called Agenda 21 United Nations agreement, which we've covered closely in its progression all the way to the governor's desk.
The bill aims to protect property rights by blocking Agenda 21, a non-binding United Nations sustainable development agreement signed in 1992 by countries around the world, including George H. W. Bush. Critics say it's a paranoid, pointless anti-government effort.
Nixon's harshly worded veto message says:
It is fundamentally misguided and unnecessary to require local government officials to become international law experts in order to perform their duties. This legislation would spawn endless litigation frivolously attacking governmental action based on a belief that a two decades old United Nations resolution is somehow shaping decisions regarding such issues as health codes and road projects.... The premise of Senate Bill No. 265, to the extent it is discernible, is wrong and the solution it puts forth is worse.
Here's the final version of House Bill 278 and Nixon's veto letter.
And here's the final version of Senate Bill 265 and Nixon's veto letter.