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Missouri lawmakers return to work for special session

Missouri lawmakers returned to the state Capitol on Monday for a special session on bills vetoed by Gov. Mike Parson, including ones on drug-treatment courts and education in science, technology, engineering and math.

Parson called the Republican-led Legislature back to consider fixing problematic language that led him to veto the two bills in July.

One bill would have allowed high school computer-science courses to count toward math, science or practical-art credits needed for graduation. Parson previously cited an issue with another part of the bill: an online course intended to boost career awareness for science, technology, engineering and mathematics professions. In a letter to lawmakers, Parson wrote that the detailed criteria for bidders “appear to be narrowly tailored to apply to only one company.”

Parson’s letter did not identify the company, however, the House handler of the bill said that Tennessee-based Learning Blade helped draft the bill. The company did not immediately return a request for comment.

Parson also vetoed a wide-ranging bill dealing with treatment courts, judicial-retirement plans and efforts to clean up abandoned property. He has said the bill appeared to violate constitutional prohibitions on including multiple subjects and changing a bill’s original purpose. In his directive to lawmakers, Parson called on them to pass a bill narrowly focused on drug-treatment courts.

Parson also called on senators to consider his recent gubernatorial appointments during the special session.

The session will run concurrently with an annual veto session on Wednesday. Lawmakers during that session can propose overriding Parson’s vetoes on both legislation and some state spending.

Lawmakers have clashed with Parson’s administration about roughly $154,000 that he cut from a program that designates hospitals as stroke, heart attack and trauma centers. The move spurred backlash from lawmakers, hospitals and groups such as the American Heart Association.

House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick said he has not yet made a decision on how to address that vetoed spending.

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