JEFFERSON CITY — Every vote counts. SB 749 — the religious freedom bill — passed the Missouri House of Representatives on Wednesday, September, 12 by the bare number of votes required (109) to override Governor Nixon’s veto of the bill in July.
“We needed every one of those votes to override the veto and make SB 749 state law,” said the Missouri Catholic Conference executive director Mike Hoey.
The new SB 749 law ensures that no one will have to pay for abortions or contraceptives in their health care plans, when this violates their religious or moral beliefs.
The bill was sponsored by Senator John Lamping (R-Clayton).
Senator Victor Callahan (D-Independence) was one of two Democrats in the Missouri Senate that voted to override the governor’s veto and enact SB 749 into law.
“Overriding a veto of a governor of your party is never easy,” said Hoey. “We are profoundly grateful for the support of Senator Callahan.”
In the Missouri Senate, the veto override passed with three votes to spare, but the fate of the legislation came down to a nail-biter closing vote in the Missouri House. The House did manage to come up with bare majority needed – 109 votes – to override the veto and enact SB 749 into state law.
In vetoing the bill, Governor Nixon argued SB 749 would cause insurance companies to deny contraceptive coverage to customers.
Hoey noted that only insurance companies with an established set of religious guidelines could refuse customers contraceptive coverage. “It strains the bounds of common sense to believe that the CEO of a major insurance company will wake up one morning and decide to establish a religious mission statement and then proceed to deny contraceptive coverage to willing customers,” Hoey said.
Hoey said the purpose of the bill was not to deny access to contraceptives but to ensure that those who have moral or religious objections to contraceptives don’t have to pay for them.
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 the contraceptive mandate issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) earlier this year.
Hoey said he hopes other states will follow Missouri’s example and assert the rights of their citizens to religious liberty.
Here is a rundown on how state legislators from the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph voted on SB 749: