House passes bill to lower import tariffs on manufacturers

Bloomberg Politics (4/27, Litvan) reports that by a 415-2 vote on Thursday, the House passed tariff bill H.R. 4923, which “would let companies ask the International Trade Commission to reduce or suspend tariffs on chemicals or other items that generally aren’t available in the U.S.” The bill would replace a tax relief system that expired in 2012 and eliminate “higher taxes” that the NAM says have cost manufacturers $2.5 billion since that time. Businesses have “broadly backed” the measure, with the NAM and “more than 200 trade groups and manufacturers” signing a letter calling on lawmakers to act on “long overdue” tariff reforms. NAM Vice President of International Economic Affairs Linda Dempsey said it would be “an important victory for manufacturers of all sizes in the U.S.” if the bill is enacted. Although “the timing remains uncertain,” The Hill (4/27, Needham) reports the Senate is expected to pass the bipartisan legislation that “would overhaul the process for reducing or eliminating

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House sends expert witness bill to governor

The Missouri House Wednesday gave final passage to AIM-supported legislation aimed at ensuring witnesses purporting to be experts in a certain field do indeed meet that standard. Senate Bill 591, sponsored by Sen. Mike Parson, and handled on the House floor by Rep. Kevin Corlew, would allow Missouri to join 40 other states and the federal government in using federal standards to determine whether a witness is an expert or not in a court proceeding. “The Daubert expert standard is a fair and consistent standard for all parties in the pursuit of justice and case disposition,” said Rep. Corlew. “Studies show that the length of litigation and its attendant costs are reduced in courts that use the Daubert expert standard. The efficiency gained for parties and an overburdened court system cannot be overstated.” Throughout the debate on the expert witness bill, supporters of the legislation pointed out that Missouri is ranked as the 42nd worst state in the country in lawsuit environment

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AIM, MTD testify in favor of highway funding bill

Associated Industries of Missouri (AIM) and the Missouri Transportation Development Council (MTD) spoke out in favor of a plan to raise funding for highway projects in Missouri during a hearing in a House committee this week. Ray McCarty, representing both AIM and MTD,  told members of the House Transportation Committee Tuesday afternoon that Senate Bill 623, sponsored by Sen. Doug Libla, is important to keep the state’s roads up to par. The bill would raise the state tax on fuel by 5.9 cents per gallon to 22.9 cents per gallon. The increase would raise about $120 million dollars MoDOT could use to rebuild bridges and maintain the state’s roadways and more for local government road improvements. “The condition of our roads is all-important to our state’s economy,” said McCarty. “From getting people and goods to and from our businesses to the just-in-time needs of our state’s manufacturers, Missouri needs to maintain good roads. Transportation is one of the top factors

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“Collateral Source” on its way to governor’s desk

The Missouri House of Representatives Tuesday gave final approval to a Senate bill that would affect how damages are awarded in a trial involving medical care. Senate Bill 847, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Ed Emery , says that, in any lawsuit over medical care, the actual cost of the care or treatment shall not exceed the dollar amounts paid by, or on behalf of, a patient whose care is at issue — plus any remaining amount necessary to satisfy the financial obligation for medical care by a health care provider. Projected future costs of care are not addressed in the legislation. The legislation is considered an important step in reducing insurance settlement costs in Missouri. The bill survived a 13-hour filibuster in the State Senate during the early weeks of the legislative session. After some changes were made to SB 847, the filibuster ended and the bill cruised through the Senate on a 25-7 vote. Once it arrived in the House,

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Tobacco loophole fix bill debated on Senate floor

The Missouri Senate last week spent several hours debating a bill, backed by AIM, that would close a loophole in the state’s master tobacco settlement, granting the state about $50 million in settlement funds. Senate Bill 1096, sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon, would close a loophole that currently allows some tobacco companies to receive refunds of all money paid in to an escrow fund to offset government healthcare costs related to smoking. “Allowing some companies to receive their money back while other do not means government is essentially preferring one tobacco company over another, allowing them to sell their products cheaper than those that are playing fair and paying to offset the healthcare costs incurred by government because of tobacco use,” said Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri. “The bill would level the playing field,” said McCarty. It was originally thought Missouri would miss out on its share of the settlement if SB 1096 was not passed by

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Missouri House proposes tax exemption for utilities used in making food

From the MissouriNet The Missouri House has given final approval to a bill that sets up a tax exemption for the use of utilities that go into making food. House Bill 1448, sponsored by Rep. Craig Redmon  aims to exempt the state’s sales and use taxes for restaurants and others who make food to be sold to directly the public for the electricity, water, gas, or other utilities used to make that food. He denies the bill is being proposed for any special interest group. “Yes it will help other people, but when I took this bill on it wasn’t for the big guy, it was for the little guy,” said Redmon. Representative Lyndall Fraker (R-Marshfield) said taxing both the food and the utilities used to make it is double taxation. “Why should the taxpayers, or why should the consumer have to pay tax on a product twice?” asked Fraker. The proposal, HB 1448, now goes to the Senate.

Big Government Get Off My Back Act passes final vote, heads for governor’s desk

The Missouri House has given final passage to legislation aimed at helping get government out of the way of small business, allowing small business the option to grow and prosper. House Bill 1870, sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tem Denny Hoskins, extends the “Big Government Get Off My Back Act” by five years. The Act provides an income tax deduction for small business (fewer than 50 employees) for each full time job created with an annual salary of at least the county average wage. The business will be allowed  a deduction of $10,000 for each new full time job created or $20,000 for each full time job if the business offers health insurance and pays at least 50 percent of the premiums. The Act also specifies that any federal mandate compelling the state to enact, enforce or administer a federal regulatory program must be subject to authorization through state appropriation or statutory enactment. It also  mandates that before the state enacts a user

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Carl Vogel remembered as quiet but active, caring man

From the Jefferson City News Tribune Carl Vogel is remembered as a quiet-but-active, caring man, as his family and friends prepared to celebrate his life in a Wednesday morning Mass of Christian Burial at St. Joseph’s Cathedral. Vogel died Thursday night at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis, after a 13-month battle with pancreatic cancer. “Carl Vogel was a huge part of this community and area,” former state Rep. Gracia Backer, D-New Bloomfield, said Friday. “He was always very quiet, but he knew what was going on. And he took care of business without fanfare or trumpet.” Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder said: “Jefferson City and Mid-Missouri have lost a stalwart advocate and champion. … I thank Kim and Jake and Kristen for sharing him with us.” Vogel was born March 7, 1955, and grew up in the family home at 800 St. Mary’s Blvd., overlooking the original St. Mary’s Hospital built on land his family had donated to it. He graduated from Helias

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Missouri lawmakers send $27 billion state budget to Nixon

By St. Louis Public Radio, Marshall Griffin The only task the Missouri General Assembly is required by law to accomplish has been accomplished and, for the second year in a row, accomplished two weeks before deadline. Lawmakers have sent a roughly $27.2 billion state budget to Gov. Jay Nixon that increases spending on higher education as a whole, while specifically cutting funding from the University of Missouri System. House and Senate Republicans insisted on sending a message to the UM Board of Curators expressing their disapproval over how last fall’s unrest on the Mizzou campus was handled. That message manifested itself in a $3.8 million cut that targets the administration. It’s a compromise between the House, which sought a much larger cut of $7.8 million, and the Senate, which backed a $1 million cut. Some Democrats, including Rep. Stephen Webber of Columbia, argued that low-income employees of the university system will be the ones who actually get hurt. “This retaliatory

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AIM holds Spring Board meeting

More than 30 business leaders from around Missouri descended on Jefferson City this week for the annual Spring Board meeting of Associated Industries of Missouri (AIM). AIM Chairman of the Board, Raymond T. Wagner, Jr., presided over the meeting. Board members discussed legislative issues and other timely topics during the meeting. Associated Industries of Missouri is a statewide trade association founded in 1919 to promote a favorable business climate for business, manufacturing and industry by empowering members through communications, education and advocacy before the legislature, administrative agencies and the public. AIM is the “Voice of Missouri Business®” representing Missouri employers on such key issues as workers’ compensation, employment law, taxation and environmental issues. AIM is also the official state partner of the National Association of Manufacturers in Missouri.