Governor Jay Nixon has taken two steps this week aimed at preserving the privacy of Missouri citizens, after months of criticisms from Republicans that the state was illegally collecting personal data. That debate originated with allegations that Missouri may be working with the federal government to track gun owners.
In signing one bill into law on Monday, Nixon established that Missouri would be prohibited from scanning and retaining source documents involved in the issuance of licenses in the state. And in vetoing another proposal yesterday, he shot down a proposed new database that he argues would have violated the privacy of hundreds of thousands of law-abiding Missourians.
See also: - Gun Privacy: Revenue Director Brian Long Resigns Amid Concealed-Carry Dispute - GOP Pushes To Make Concealed-Carry Permit Process Easier, Protect Privacy - Will Missouri Block Federal Gun Control? Dems Push For Nullification Bill Veto
Senate Bill 252 was the product of months of heated debate and expensive ad campaigns slamming Nixon and the state's Department of Revenue for allegedly collecting and maintaining various documents citizens use to obtain drivers licenses and other licenses, including concealed-carry permits.
This new law includes a series of provisions related to the revenue department, but most notably formally ends the practice related to the document collection. Nixon, a Democrat, announced that he had signed this bill with no additional comment and as part of a larger announcement regarding the signing of a handful of proposals.
Still, Nixon's Republican critics celebrated:
HUGE Breaking News: We have just received word that Gov Nixon has ordered ALL DOR scanning to CEASE. King Nixon bows to the People's House!— Tim W. Jones (@SpeakerTimJones) July 1, 2013
Glad to hear DOR will no longer be scanning & retaining docs at license renewals. The people spoke up & their voice was heard! #MOLeg— Caleb Rowden (@calebrowden44) July 2, 2013
Meanwhile, Nixon had a lot more to say with his veto yesterday of Senate Bill 34, a Republican-backed proposal to require the Division of Workers' Compensation to "develop and maintain a workers' compensation claims database."
Nixon, in his announcement, implied that some in the legislature have been hypocritical by emphasizing privacy concerns, but passing a bill that would invade privacy rights of workers:
There is a stark contrast between lawmakers' rhetoric on the issue of privacy, and their record. While professing to champion privacy rights, this General Assembly quietly passed a bill to create - and allow broad access to - a new electronic database containing the personal information of hundreds of thousands of law-abiding Missourians. This misguided legislation would have invaded Missourians' right to privacy by making their personal information available to employers on a government website without their consent. Invading Missourians' privacy will not grow our economy or move our state forward.
The bill, he explained, would have required the state to create a database of all Missourians who had filed workers' compensation claims and would also have required employers to be given access to the database through the division's website. It would, he says, undo existing privacy protections for workers whose information is already currently available, but under limited circumstances.
Labor groups celebrated the veto. Mike Louis, the Missouri Secretary Treasurer of the AFL-CIO, in a statement on the "unfair, invasive" proposed database, said:
With his veto pen, Governor Nixon again demonstrates his support for the rights of Missouri workers. The bill would have unfairly given employers online access to personal data of Missouri workers injured on the job. Our state elected officials should work to make workplaces safer not violate privacy rights of hardworking Missourians. We applaud Governor Nixon's veto of this unnecessary bill and call upon leaders in the House and Senate to improve workplace safety and strengthen our workers compensation system instead of looking for ways to give employers such broad access to sensitive personal data.
Daily RFT left a message today with SB 34's sponsor State Senator Mike Cunningham. We'll update if we hear back.
Here's a copy of SB 252, the revenue bill:
And SB 34, the workers' comp database bill:
And Nixon's veo message on SB 34: