Senator Cunningham column 9/21

This last week the Legislature gathered in Jefferson City for the annual veto session. The governor vetoed five measures passed during the regular session. In order to override a governor’s veto, lawmakers must approve each vetoed bill by a two-thirds vote in order for it to become law. There were no votes to override a veto this week.
One piece of legislation, House Committee Bill 3, was on the radar of many lawmakers. The legislation would have authorized the Commissioner of the Office of Administration to make a one-time fund sweep of any unused funds from state agencies and departments. The unused money would go into the Senior Services Protection Fund to help provide in-home and nursing home care for some of the state’s most vulnerable. There are currently about 8,000 low-income, elderly Missourians who will go without nursing care since the legislation was never passed in the House.
None of the other vetoed legislation was ever brought up for a vote in the Senate. However, while gathered in Jefferson City, the Senate did make a motion to censure a fellow lawmaker.
The recent comments made online by one of our state senators was not only unacceptable, but it threatened the integrity of the Senate. Expressing a desire for violence against the President is egregious, unfitting, and unbecoming conduct for a senator.
We had hoped Sen. Chappelle-Nadal would realize the seriousness of her statements, take responsibility for her words, and resign on her own accord. However, since that was not the case, the Senate prepared for options afforded in the Missouri Constitution and the Senate Rules. The Senate retains the sole right and responsibility to discipline its members for disorderly conduct.
By a vote of 28-2, the Senate has censured Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, effective immediately. The censure also urges her to resign or face possible expulsion in the future. We also urge the Senator to conduct herself in a manner that respects the longstanding traditions of the Missouri Senate and to respect her position as a senator by refraining from action or words that incite or encourage violence.
Censuring a sitting member has never been done in the history of the Missouri Senate. It is not something the Senate takes lightly.
As always, I appreciate it when groups from around Missouri and from our community back home come to visit me at the Capitol. If you would like to arrange a time to come and visit me in Jefferson City, or if you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-1882.