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JEFFERSON CITY (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed legislation yesterday aimed at limiting nuisance lawsuits against large hog farms that produce foul odors, but he indicated a willingness to work with lawmakers on a revised version.
The governor said he vetoed the bill because it limited people's ability to win punitive damages against farms and because some provisions could have been interpreted to also apply to other types of annoying actions, such as noisy neighbors, vehicle exhaust or leaking gas tanks and oil lines.
The bill's lead Republican sponsor said he would work with the Democratic governor's office to address his concerns, clarify the legislation and send a revised version to Nixon before the legislative session ends May 13.
But "we're definitely working against the clock right now," said Rep. Casey Guernsey, R-Bethany. "It is very difficult to get a bill through the General Assembly entirely one time, let alone this is the second time."
The legislation comes after hog-producer Premium Standard Farms - a major employer in northern Missouri - warned last year that it might have to leave the state if it continued to be targeted by nuisance lawsuits. Such lawsuits have resulted in multimillion-dollar awards against the company, including an $11 million award to a group of 15 northwest Missouri residents.
A spokeswoman for Premium Standard Farms did not return messages yesterday evening.