February 29 – Representative Jerry Nolte today attempted to add the Broad-Based Business Tax Relief Act to a bill that provides amnesty for taxpayers and enhances collection efforts of the Missouri Department of Revenue. The Act, based on an idea from Associated Industries of Missouri, would cut the taxes of EVERY Missouri business in half over five years. Several spoke against the amendment because of the cost to the state. To satisfy these concerns, Representative Nolte proposed an amendment to the amendment that would pay for the broad based tax cut through reductions in a tax credit program. Eventually, Representative Nolte agreed to withdraw his amendment after brief discussion as the underlying bill was necessary to move forward with approval of the state’s operating budget. Representative Nolte’s original bill that accomplishes the same purpose, HB 1639, was finally referred to committee today. Nolte intends to schedule a hearing on his legislation soon. “I’m glad my bill has been referred to committee so we may begin the discussion of providing
February 27 – The House Workforce Development and Workplace Safety Committee, chaired by Rep. Barney Fisher, held a hearing and approved the Senate’s version of our worker’s compensation bill today by a vote of 8-4. The bill, SB 572, sponsored by Senate Majority Floor Leader Tom Dempsey, was supported by every major employer group and was opposed by only the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys and the AFL-CIO. The bill would prevent workers from suing each other in workplace accidents and provide coverage for occupational diseases within the worker’s compensation system. Correcting previous judicial rulings to the contrary, the bill would make it clear that workers that acquire occupational diseases – those that evolve over a long period of time – would be entitled to quick medical care and compensation for lost work time. Opponents object because employers currently are liable to the employees for large judgments when the employee is able to prove negligence on behalf of the employer.
February 23 – Yesterday, the Senate Jobs, Economic Development & Local Government Committee heard testimony on a bill that takes a step toward AIM’s goal to cut business income taxes in half over five years. The bill, SB 661, sponsored by Committee Chairman Senator Eric Schmitt, would phase in a 25% cut in the income taxes paid by businesses over five years. Associated Industries of Missouri asked Senator Schmitt and the Committee to consider reducing the taxes by 50% in the same manner as our priority legislation, HB 1639 filed by Representative Jerry Nolte in the Missouri House. The House bill would reduce taxes by 30% over three years and compare income tax receipts at that time with current income tax receipts. If the tax receipts after three years are the same or greater than current tax receipts, the taxes would be lowered by 40% and 50% over the next two years. The tax cut would apply to ALL businesses, regardless of size or type of organization. Individuals that report
Rep. John Cauthorn has filed HB 1752, Associated Industries of Missouri’s priority legislation that makes sure Missouri’s Hazardous Waste Commission does not file any rule, regulation, standard or guideline that is stricter than necessary to meet federal requirements. “This legislation ensures Missouri companies are not disadvantaged by regulations that go beyond requirements of federal law,” said Ray McCarty, president of Associated Industries of Missouri. “Missouri companies need to be able to compete on a level playing field with businesses in other states and around the world. Regulations that exceed federal requirements place Missouri companies at a disadvantage in a global marketplace.” The legislation also allows variances, or exceptions to rules that: Would cause economic hardship; or Is physically impossible; or Is more detrimental to the environment than the variance would be; or Is impractical or of insignificant value under the existing conditions.
February 22, 2012 – It is no surprise to Missouri’s transportation community that transportation funding in Missouri is cause for concern. Throughout the past six years, former MoDOT Director Pete Rahn, then-Chief Engineer/Current MoDOT Director Kevin Keith, Senator Bill Stouffer and others traveled the state with the Missouri Transportation Development Council (MTD) to educate Missourians on the need to invest in Missouri’s transportation infrastructure since tax dollars are no longer able to support and maintain existing infrastructure. The MTD continues to participate in these discussions. Wednesday morning, the Senate Transportation Committee held its first hearing on Senate Bill 752. The legislation, filed by Senator Mike Kehoe, would allow the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission to bid out – through a Public-Private Partnership – the conversion of 200 miles of I-70 into a toll road. While toll roads are not too popular – and Sen. Kehoe acknowledges this – he stated, “Although not popular, this option is viable.” Last year, MTD surveyed its membership and
February 15 – The Missouri Senate today gave first round approval to SB 572, Associated Industries of Missouri priority legislation that clarifies occupational diseases are covered under worker’s compensation and prevents employees from suing each other in worker’s comp injury cases. Amendments were added to provide an employee that engages in an “affirmative negligent act” is not protected under the new language, and clarifying that the worker’s comp claim must be settled before any civil suit is filed and allowing the statute of limitations to be tolled while the work comp claim is in process. AIM thanks Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey for his leadership in passing the bill and for all the senators that took part in negotiations to clear the path for this bill.
February 13 – The House Workforce Development Committee heard some testimony on HB 1403, sponsored by Rep. Dave Schatz, then continued the hearing to another day. The bill would rectify the worker’s compensation system by making sure occupational diseases are covered under the worker’s compensation law and preventing employees from suing each other in work comp accidents. The bill also contains the reforms of the Second Injury Fund we have written about before (see a4gb.wordpress.com blog for stories on this subject). Associated Industries of Missouri testified in favor of the bill, and HB 1540, sponsored by House Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones, that addresses only the co-employee issue, but may be expanded later if needed. Negotiations continue in the Senate on the issue. We will keep you posted of developments.
February 9 – The Missouri House today approved the employment law reform bill 89-68, despite opposition from some Republicans. Nearly every person speaking in opposition to the bill appeared to not even have read the bill, as their concerns had been addressed in the bill. Interestingly, 9 of the 16 Republican representatives voting “no” on the first round vote on the bill were from the Kansas City area. Representatives Berry, Marshall, Brattin, Schieber, Neth, Silvey, Torpey, Lasater, and Solon all voted against the bill. In fact, 22 of the 70 total votes against the bill were from representatives of the Kansas City area. Other Republicans voting against first round approval of the bill included Representatives Asbury, Bahr*, Barnes, Cookson*, Leach, Weter, and Wyatt. Two Democrats that supported the bill last year switched their votes and voted against the bill on the first round vote this year (Representatives Shively and Swinger). *UPDATE: On the final 3rd Reading vote, Representatives Bahr and Cookson voted in
February 9 – The Missouri House gave final approval to HB 1311 today, a data center incentives bill (see story on blog) by a vote of 149-5. The bill enjoyed strong bipartisan support and now advances to the Senate for further consideration.
February 9 – HB 1311, sponsored by Rep. Ryan Silvey, received first round approval from the Missouri House yesterday. The bill contains incentives that will help Missouri compete for location of data centers. Currently, Missouri is losing data centers to other states that have attractive incentive programs. The bill contains minimum investment requirements for companies that will be entitled to sales tax exemptions on purchases of equipment and utilities for the data centers. Associated Industries of Missouri is part of a coalition of business organizations and companies supporting the development of data centers in Missouri. The bill will now face one more vote before moving to the Senate. Also, see news coverage by Missouri News Horizon, by clicking here.