Gov. Holden requests unscheduled press conference

House speaker Catherine Hanaway (R-Warson Woods) and Rep. Richard Byrd (R-Kirkwood) speak out in response to Gov. Bob Holden´s veto.

House speaker Catherine Hanaway (R-Warson Woods) and Rep. Richard Byrd (R-Kirkwood) speak out in response to Gov. Bob Holden´s veto.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – With about a 20-minute notice, the governor’s office was not as full with reporters as it was during previous press conferences.

The governor held an unplanned press conference April 27 to give his reason for vetoing House Bill 1304, the tort reform bill.

“I have made clear my objections to this bill in the past, yet the legislature has sent me a bill they knew I would not be willing to sign, rather than sending me legislation that would meaningfully address the costs of malpractice insurance for physicians,” said Gov. Bob Holden (D).

He said the current bill does not address insurance reform and misuses the needs of doctors. Holden said the only people benefiting would be large corporations.

“I urge the legislature to immediately begin work on legislation that incorporates the many areas of agreement on needed protections for physicians,” Holden said.

The governor said he had drafted a new bill that he would introduce by the end of the week. He declined to present copies of the bill because he needed to run it by the legislators first.

The governor said it was possible to create and vote on a new bill with only 15 days of session left.

“Where there is a will there is a way,” Holden said.

The governor blamed the Republican majority for not getting the bill to him sooner and said he had hoped to get the tort reform bill done in a timely manner.

Holden did not say where he stood on the filibuster performed by Sen. Ken Jacob (D-Columbia) in the Senate April 22.

“The governor does his job,” Jacob said. “And I do mine. I was trying to stop a bill.”

House Speaker Catherine Hanaway (R-Warson Woods) and Rep. Richard Byrd (R-Kirkwood) held a press conference in the House speaker’s office following the governor’s address.

“It is a shame the governor could not put his personal agenda aside and support the many doctors in this state,” Hanaway said. “We are all very disappointed.”

Neither Hanaway nor Byrd had seen the governor’s tort reform bill or were familiar with the change in provisions he spoke of. If they received a bill, they said they would take meaningful steps to get it done before the end of session. They said they would take meaningful steps to override the governor’s veto on the current bill.

Byrd said there were two serious problems facing doctors in the state.

The first problem is the large number of physicians leaving to practice in other states. The second problem is the large number of physicians limiting the services they provide because of the high cost of malpractice insurance.

“What he has done,” Byrd said. “it is hierarchy.”

“It is clear he is opposed to tort reform,” said Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin).

“It is also clear he opposed to plaintiffs’ rights.”

“It is a shame he does not want to bring Missouri into the 21st century.”

Nodler said he didn’t think the governor cared about the shortage of neurosurgeons in the state or the costs to them.

“This is a good bill and it does not just protect special interest groups,” Nodler said.

“It protects everybody; all the people.”

He said he did not believe insurance reform was the big problem.

“Right now there are only three insurance companies left in the state,” Nodler said.

“It is not a lucrative business. We used to have 30 and now because of the cost, they are moving out of the state.”