- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers marked their first veto override of the year Wednesday by approving legislation that exempts candidates from having to run under partisan labels in some local elections and bars former superintendents from serving on the school boards for which they had worked.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill last month, saying it went too far by barring former superintendents from serving on school boards in districts where they previously worked.

The 111-49 House and 24-9 Senate votes mark the first veto override of the 2015 session. Both chambers are controlled by Republicans. Lawmakers said the partisan election exemption was vital because current rules were creating problems for cities and other local governments.

The portion addressing superintendents was part of a legislative response to problems uncovered in the St. Joseph School District. Lawmakers from the area said they would try to repeal or modify that ban. Rep. Delus Johnson, R-St. Joseph, said misconduct by administrators and a lack of oversight by the school board in St. Joseph had cost every other school district money.

“I know there are a lot of good superintendents out there who want to serve on the school board and the reason they can’t is because of my superintendent,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he’s committed to changing that part of the law. He said a “cooling off” period after the superintendent retires or leaves would be more appropriate.

The measure will not remove any superintendents currently serving on school boards, but it will prohibit any from running for re-election or election. When he vetoed the measure last week, Nixon said he did not want candidates on the April 7 ballot to be disqualified, identifying at least three former superintendents running for school boards in the districts where they had worked.

A state audit released in February found $40 million in unapproved stipends paid to St. Joseph School District administrators over 14 years. A former superintendent on the school board resigned in March.

The legislation also changes some other provisions of the school board elections in St. Joseph, including shortened terms and changing the petition process required to run. Because it included an emergency clause, it takes effect immediately.

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