Every vote counts. SB 749 — the religious freedom bill — passed the Missouri House of Representatives on Wednesday, Sept. 12, by the bare number (109) votes required to override Gov. Nixon’s veto of the bill in July.
Every one of those votes was needed. One vote less and no override would have taken place. Thanks to all MCC Network members for the tremendous outpouring of support for SB 749. Your contacts to legislators truly made the difference.
Sen. John Lamping (R-Clayton) sponsored SB 749 and came in for harsh criticism, mainly from people who failed to read the bill or relied on the often skewed reporting in the secular media.
The new law affirms religious liberty and ensures that people can follow their most deeply held religious and moral beliefs when making decisions about what kind of health insurance to buy.
The Missouri Catholic Conference repeatedly told legislators that no one should be forced to pay for someone else’s abortion or to pay for contraceptives when this violates their moral or religious beliefs.
Two democrats – Victor Callahan (D-Independence) and Ryan McKenna (D-Crystal) joined Republicans to override Gov. Nixon’s veto in the Missouri Senate. In the senate, the veto override passed easily, with three votes to spare, but the fate of SB 749 came down to a nail-biter closing vote in the Missouri House.
There were some real profiles in courage on the House vote. Democrats who had voted for the bill in May came under tremendous pressure from the governor’s office to switch their vote and sustain the veto. But seven of them held firm and voted to override, defying the governor of their own party.
The “magnificent seven” included state representatives from all corners of the state: Terry Swinger (D-Caruthersville); Ron Casey (D-Crystal City); Joe Fallert (D-Ste. Genevieve); Ben Harris (D-Hillsboro); Ed Schieffer (D-Troy); Paul Quinn (D-Monroe City); and, Tom Shively (D-Shelbyville).
Rep. Schieffer came in a wheelchair, having just left the hospital for surgery. He came even though he needed intravenous medication through a port twice a day.
The heroics by the small band of Democrats, however, would have been to no avail without nearly unanimous support from House Republicans. Newly elected House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) cajoled most of his caucus to override the veto, though there were a few defections.
State Rep. Sandy Crawford (R-Buffalo) handled SB 749 on the House floor, while State Reps. John Diehl (R-Town and Country) and Thomas Long (R-Battlefield) worked hard to secure the votes of Republicans.
The Associated Press reported that the new SB 749 law may represent the first state law passed in the nation to offer a direct rebuke to contraceptive mandate issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) earlier this year.
Click on the name of your diocese below to see how legislators in those areas voted on SB 749.