GET INVOLVED: Missouri employer, let your voice be heard!

NOTE FROM THE PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATED INDUSTRIES OF MISSOURI: It’s time for you as a Missouri employer to let your voice be heard on two related issues regarding tort reform.  I will bet at least one of these issues has affected your business in the past or will affect your business in the future.  Both issues are addressed by SB 589, sponsored by Senator Dan Brown (R-16, Phelps County), currently pending in the Missouri Senate. The first issue addresses a court decision that was issued over a year ago in a medical malpractice case in which the court ruled the limit on non-economic damages in Missouri law was invalid.  This bill would attempt to address this court decision by removing the defects the court found with our statutes.  This is important to employers that pay healthcare costs for themselves or their employees, either directly or through insurance.  As medical malpractice costs rise, so do medical malpractice insurance premiums, and the rates

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House supports state emission standards

What entity is better to determine clean air standards in Missouri? The Washington D.C.-based Environmental Protection Agency, or the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Air Conservation Commission? This week, the Missouri House of Representatives sided with the Air Conservation Commission. With the passage of House Bill 1631, sponsored by Rep. Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff), the legislature backed the concept of the commission developing emission standards through a unit-by-unit analysis of each existing source of carbon dioxide within the state. The bill gives the Commission the power to develop emission standards that are less stringent than federal emission guidelines or with longer compliance schedules than those required by federal guidelines. The legislation is a clear shot aimed back at Washington D.C. in the War on Coal being waged on coal-fired power generating plants by President Obama’s EPA. With unattainable emission standards already slapped on new construction, the EPA is on the verge of drafting standards that are likely to hamstring all

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House backs tax exemption for aircraft parts

Moving to support airplane repair operations at Kansas City International Airport, the Missouri House this week voted to remove an expiration date from the state’s sales and use tax exemption on airplane replacement parts. The extension of the exemption clears the way for Aviation Technical Services to lease a portion of the KCI  Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Base at Kansas City International Airport. The operation, which at full capacity will provide ATS with 607,000 square feet of operating space, will create more than 500 new jobs over the next three to five years with potential for 1,000 employees over time. The Everett Washington-based ATS hopes to have its operation fully in place within three years. House Bill 2029 now moves on to the State Senate. The Senate is already considering a similar bill.

House passes clarification on independent contractor language

The Missouri House of Representatives this week supported clearer rules for determining when a person is an independent contractor. House Bill 1642, sponsored by Rep. Kurt Bahr (R-St. Charles),requires the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to provide a clear and concise rule for defining “independent contractor” and a procedure for changing an individual’s classification from an independent contractor to an employee. Language in the bill states that if the federal government has allowed a person to be classified as an independent contractor, the state will consider the person an independent contractor too. The bill also gives an employer 60 days to comply with the reclassification of an employee after the department audits the employer. And the employer will not be liable for any taxes, interest, or fines for the misclassification. Employers will be given six months to comply with the new rules once they are drawn up by the department. “AIM supports the idea of drafting hard and

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Sen. Schmitt talks taxes on KMOX

Earlier this week, State Senator Eric Schmitt continued to beat the drum for broad-based tax cuts for businesses and individuals. Schmitt is a semi-regular on the popular Mark Reardon Show on KMOX in St. Louis. Listen to Schmitt’s conversation with Reardon below.

Kehoe’s unemployment bill receives initial Senate approval

Senate Bill 673, sponsored by Senator Mike Kehoe (R-6, Cole County), received first round approval by the Senate today. The version adopted by the Senate included a suggestion we had made: if the state owes the federal unemployment trust fund more than $300 million, the Board of Unemployment Fund Financing must meet and consider the option of issuing bonds to resolve the debt.  The original proposal would have mandated issuance of bonds which may not make financial sense. Another part of the bill that reduces the number of weeks of unemployment benefits that are payable as the unemployment rate drops is retained in the bill.  AIM certainly supports this part of the bill.  “It only makes sense to reduce the financial assistance to the  unemployed when more jobs are available,” said Ray McCarty, president of Associated Industries of Missouri. “Our employers have encountered problems with potential employees deciding they would rather stay home and collect unemployment than work when they are offered jobs, and this may provide

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Senate gives first-round approval to a tax cut bill

In a surprising move, the Missouri Senate this evening passed a tax cut bill that benefits all except corporations in Missouri. Senator Will Kraus (R-8, Lee’s Summit) offered a third substitute for his tax bill, SS#3 SCS SB 509 & 496.  The bill is a combination of Senator Kraus’ original bill and a bill filed by Senator Eric Schmitt (R-15, Kirkwood). The bill would not begin reducing taxes until tax year 2017, and then would only reduce taxes if net general revenue collected in the previous fiscal year exceeds the highest amount of revenue collected over the previous three fiscal years by at least $150 million. Each step of individual income tax reduction would be one-tenth of one percent.  The maximum reduction would be one-half percent after five years of meeting the $150 million increase “trigger”. The bill would also allow the 94% of businesses that are organized as S Corporations, LLC’s, LLP’s, sole proprietorships, partnerships, and other flow-through type

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New protections for domestic violence victims have hidden pitfalls for employers

Tuesday evening, March 25, the Missouri Senate debated Senate Bill 712, sponsored by Senator Gina Walsh (D-13, St. Louis County). The published goal of the bill is noble enough: to provide domestic violence victims time off from work so they may attend legal proceedings in connection with prosecuting their attackers.  After 48 hours prior notice, an employer would be required to provide the domestic violence victim with unpaid time off for that purpose.  Most of us that defend employers in the Missouri Capitol had no problem with that part of the bill and we paid little attention to the bill or its companion bill, House Bill 1717, sponsored by Rep. Jill Schupp (D-88, St. Louis County). Until we read the details of the bill. Senator Brad Lager (R-12, Andrew County) noted during debate of the bill late Tuesday night that SB 712 would in fact establish a new protected class of employee for domestic violence victims and allow them to sue

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