Special session motor vehicle trade-in bill approved by Senate Committee

House Bill 1, filed by Rep. Becky Ruth, was passed by the Missouri House yesterday. Today, the Senate Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Sen. Andrew Koenig, unanimously approved the bill and sent it to the full Senate for consideration and a vote as early as tomorrow.

Associated Industries of Missouri supported the bill, along with the automobile and marine dealers, recreational vehicle dealers, and the Missouri Department of Revenue.

Acting Director of Revenue Ken Zellers testified that the Department appealed the AHC decision that had been issued in favor of the taxpayer because they wanted clarity. He said earlier decisions had left the issue unclear.

The Department has a regulation in effect that allows sales tax credit for multiple trade-ins. The trade-in credit is important to companies that have more than one vehicle (fleets, etc.), but also very important to individuals purchasing vehicles and selling their current vehicles.

Sole special session bill passed by House – on to Senate

House Bill 1, filed by Rep. Becky Ruth, was heard and approved yesterday by both the House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Rep. Chrissy Sommer, and the Rules – Legislative Oversight Committee chaired by Rep. Rocky Miller. Today, the Missouri House approved the bill and sent it to the Senate.

Associated Industries of Missouri supported the bill, along with the automobile and marine dealers, recreational vehicle dealers, and the Missouri Department of Revenue.

Acting Director of Revenue Ken Zellers testified that the Department appealed the AHC decision that had been issued in favor of the taxpayer because they wanted clarity. He said earlier decisions had left the issue unclear.

The Department has a regulation in effect that allows sales tax credit for multiple trade-ins. The trade-in credit is important to companies that have more than one vehicle (fleets, etc.), but also very important to individuals purchasing vehicles and selling their current vehicles.

The bill will now be considered in the Senate throughout the rest of this week.

MV sales tax correction bill advances in special legislative session

House Bill 1, filed by Rep. Becky Ruth, was heard and approved today by both the House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Rep. Chrissy Sommer, and the Rules – Legislative Oversight Committee chaired by Rep. Rocky Miller.

Associated Industries of Missouri supported the bill, along with the automobile and marine dealers, recreational vehicle dealers, and the Missouri Department of Revenue.

Acting Director of Revenue Ken Zellers testified that the Department appealed the AHC decision that had been issued in favor of the taxpayer because they wanted clarity. He said earlier decisions had left the issue unclear.

The Department has a regulation in effect that allows sales tax credit for multiple trade-ins.

The bill now moves to the full House for consideration tomorrow.

Bridge improvements on the way!

P7280435 Missouri River Bridge (I-70)
Photo by Chris Light

July 23, 2019 –  U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and U.S. Congressman Sam Graves, Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, along with U.S. Senator Josh Hawley and U.S. Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler announced yesterday the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) will receive an $81.2 million Infrastructure For Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to replace the I-70 bridge at Rocheport.

The bridge is critical to the massive amounts of traffic that use I-70 on a daily basis and is badly in need of replacement. Repair of the bridge threatened to create extremely long backups of traffic due to necessary lane closures. Total bridge replacement will avoid those delays.

In June, the Missouri Transportation and Development Council (MTD) and Associated Industries of Missouri (AIM) sent letters to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and all members of the Missouri congressional delegation in support of the MoDOT INFRA grant application for the bridge. Also in June, members of AIM and MTD visited with all members of the Missouri congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., to discuss many issues important to business. Approval of the grant was an important part of those discussions. Missouri received about half of the original grant request of $172.5 million. The total replacement cost of the bridge is estimated at $238 million.

“The Rocheport Bridge is a vital component of our nation’s highway system, carrying millions of people and billions of dollars in freight every year,” said Senator Roy Blunt. “Replacing the bridge will create a safer, more reliable transportation route for businesses, travelers and local residents. This has been one of the top infrastructure priorities for our state and I appreciate Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s support for getting it done. Location is our greatest competitive advantage in Missouri, and I’ll continue advocating for the federal resources necessary to improve our state’s transportation system and keep our economy growing.”

“Replacing the Rocheport bridge is critical to maintaining one of the busiest transportation corridors in Missouri and the country. As Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I’m pleased to see the INFRA grant program used for this critical project,” said Congressman Sam Graves. “This grant will not only help replace this aging structure, it will also free up much-needed dollars to maintain our roads and bridges around the state – including 76 aging bridges in North Missouri. I applaud Secretary Chao and President Trump for their continued focus on fixing our crumbling infrastructure and congratulate MODOT on working diligently to find a way to replace this bridge.”

“Replacing the Rocheport Bridge is a huge victory for our state,” said Senator Josh Hawley. “This critical infrastructure investment will benefit Missouri residents and businesses by providing safe and reliable passage for the more-than 12 million vehicles that travel across the bridge each year. I am grateful to the administration for prioritizing the critical infrastructure needs of Missouri, and I applaud the Missouri Department of Transportation for their efforts to secure these funds.”

“I am thrilled we are receiving the INFRA grant! This award is critical not only for the citizens of Missouri’s Fourth Congressional District and mid-Missouri, but for travelers and truckers across the nation who traverse our great state,” said Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler. “This is a prime example of communities and tax dollars working together to address a critical need. It has been an honor to advocate for this alongside Senator Roy Blunt, the Missouri congressional delegation, Governor Mike Parson, the Missouri legislature, the counties of Boone and Cooper, and the cities of Columbia and Boonville who all stood together making the case for why we need to replace the Rocheport bridge. I am glad the INFRA federal dollars will leverage the local dollars to provide a new bridge we can all be proud of, connecting the east and west coasts of America.”

“Since becoming Governor, improving Missouri’s infrastructure has been a major focus for our administration. The Rocheport bridge has long been in need of repair, and we’re thrilled that we now have the funds to complete this critical project and trigger our bold transportation plan,” Governor Mike Parson said in a statement. “Transportation drives our economy, and replacing the bridge is a major step toward maintaining our highway system and ensuring we have the framework for access and expansion in the future. We appreciate Senator Blunt, Secretary Chao, and President Trump’s continued support and commitment to infrastructure in Missouri.”

“We are pleased the U.S. Department of Transportation understands the critical importance of this bridge and we thank our elected officials in the Missouri delegation for their leadership in helping secure this grant,” said Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri and executive director of MTD. “In addition to funding this critical bridge project, the action also triggers state officials’ ability to issue $301 million in bonds for other bridge projects across Missouri which is vitally important for the safety of Missourians,” said McCarty.

The Missouri Transportation and Development Council (MTD) began as the Missouri Good Roads Federation in 1920 to support passage of the first transportation bond issue to “Get Missouri out of the Mud!”

Associated Industries of Missouri is the state’s oldest statewide business advocate organization, celebrating 100 years of representing Missouri employers in the Missouri Capitol, working on employers’ behalf with administrative agencies, and representing employers in the courts.

Governor Parson signs tax bill into law

Governor Parson signs SB 87 as Ray McCarty, Chuck Pierce, and others look on.
Photo courtesy of Harrison Sweazea

July 12, 2019 – Governor Mike Parson signed Senate Bill 87 into law yesterday and AIM President and CEO Ray McCarty and lobbyist Chuck Pierce were there to lend support. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Wayne Wallingford and handled in the House by Rep. Kathy Swan.

The bill contains some very important tax provisions, including:

  1. A provision in the bill will ensure Missouri companies do not experience a state corporation income tax increase as a result of federal tax law changes limiting certain interest deductions;
  2. Protested property taxes that are distributed will now have interest calculated using the same rate as is paid by the state on delinquent income tax refunds; and,
  3. Sales tax refund claims will now be allowed for 10 years after filing the return, rather than the current three year limit.

“This bill represents a lot of hard work by the AIM Tax Committee and lobbyist Chuck Pierce and we thank Governor Parson for his approval of the bill today that prevents a tax increase on Missouri businesses,” said McCarty. “Also, the bill allows taxpayers that have overpaid their taxes to get them back when the mistake is discovered after the current three year time-frame. Taxpayers should always be able to recover money that was inappropriately paid to the government, so having a 10 year limit on claims is much better than three,” he said.

Omnibus economic development bill signed today

July 10, 2019 – Gov. Mike Parson has signed a major economic development bill into law.

Senate Bill 68, sponsored by Sen. Lincoln Hough and handled in the House by Rep. John Wiemann, provides incentives that may be used by General Motors in retooling the Wentzville plant, a scholarship/loan program designed to raise the educational level of potential employees, a reworking and renaming of the existing Missouri Works and related training programs, and a deal closing fund that will allow the Governor, through the Department of Economic Development to grant incentives in advance that would otherwise be granted over time.

As the bill survived a major filibuster in the Missouri Senate, Governor Parson issued a statement: “Today’s final vote is a complete victory for Missourians and jobs in every corner of the state. We are sending a powerful message to the nation that we are ready to compete with every state for more jobs,” said Governor Parson. “From day one, I’ve talked about the importance of workforce development and infrastructure – and thanks to House and Senate Leadership, State Representatives Kathy Swan and Nick Schroer, and State Senator Lincoln Hough, we now have the necessary economic development tools to make an important investment in the skills of Missouri workers. We are now on track to be one of the most pro-growth, pro-jobs administrations in Missouri’s history.”

As a co-chairman of the Ford 2020 Task Force that designed the original Automotive Manufacturing Jobs Act, Ray McCarty applauded the revisions of that Act contained in the bill.

“We were successful in passing the original Act despite concerns that Ford and their suppliers may not deliver,” McCarty said. “To date, Ford has not only retained jobs at the Claycomo plant that Missouri was in danger of losing, they have now added more than 5,000 jobs at the plant making it the largest volume facility for them in the world. We hope General Motors is able to use these new incentives in a similar way, and we are glad Governor Parson signed the bill today,” he said.

Wind farm tax bill signed today

July 10, 2019 – Governor Mike Parson signed House Bill 220 into law today, allowing wind farms to continue to be assessed locally for property tax purposes, even if they are later purchased by utilities. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Allen Andrews, pictured above speaking at the bill signing ceremony, and handled in the Senate by Senator Ed Emery.

Property tax on property used by an electric utility to generate electricity is normally distributed among many counties, rather than just being distributed to the county where the generating plant is located. This bill was necessary to prevent a loss of local tax revenue by counties where wind farms are located if the farm is eventually purchased by a utility.

The bill provides a task force will be set up to determine some of the finer points and the task force report is due before legislators return for the 2020 legislative session.

Gov. Parson signs trio of legal reform bills supported by AIM

July 10, 2019 – Governor Mike Parson today signed a trio of bills designed to make the judicial system in Missouri fairer.

Senate Bill 7, the venue/joinder bill, codifies a recent court decision that will clearly establish when tort cases belong in Missouri courts, particularly excluding tort cases with little or no connection to Missouri. Those cases should be brought in the states where the injuries occurred or where the parties reside. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Ed Emery and handled in the House by Rep. Glen Kolkmeyer.

Senate Bill 30 pertains to seatbelt evidence in cases alleging an automobile manufacturing defect. The bill allows evidence of whether a person was wearing a seatbelt to be admitted into evidence and eliminates the current limit on the amount an award may be reduced if the judge and/or jury find the use of the seatbelt would have limited injuries. The current law only allows such awards to be reduced by a maximum of 1%, but the new law will allow judges and juries to decide the appropriate amount, if any, of such reduction. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Dan Hegeman and handled in the House by Rep. Nick Schroer.

Senate Bill 224, the signing of which is pictured above, changes discovery rules in Missouri state courts, aligning them with federal rules of civil procedure observed in federal courts. The goal is to limit situations where an attorney will use discovery as a weapon in a legal dispute by making repeated requests for depositions and documents. Senator Tony Luetkemeyer sponsored the bill and Rep. Nick Schroer also handled this bill in the House.

“We applaud Gov. Parson’s signing of these bills as Missouri works to lose the ‘Judicial Hellhole’ designation bestowed upon our state courts by the American Tort Reform Association,” said Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri. “AIM has worked hard over the years to create a better legal environment and these bills help move Missouri in the right direction,” he said.

In a press release, Governor Parson said, “During this year’s session, we made major progress improving Missouri’s business climate. Today, we took a great step in bringing fairness to our courts and giving Missouri businesses the opportunity for competitive economic growth.”

The “Voice of Missouri Business” heard in the U.S. Capitol

June 14, 2019 – This week, a team of business leaders from Associated Industries of Missouri (AIM) discussed many important business issues with their representatives in Congress during two days of meetings in Washington, D.C.

Attending the meetings were: Tony Reinhart, Ford Motor Company; Jarah Hauger, Deere & Company; Gail Hinshaw, AIM Board; Dusty Cruise, Missouri Enterprise; Shaun Garrison, Ameren; Rod Reid, Shepherd Hills Factory Outlets; Jim Carter, Emerson; John Frederick, Boeing; and Tom Hall, Orscheln Management Company. Candice Allen of AIM staffed the meetings and Ray McCarty, President and CEO of AIM, helped lead the discussions.

The group reeived a briefing of important federal issues with leadership of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). AIM is the sole designated partner of the NAM in Missouri.

The group was able to meet with all the Missouri delegation members or their staff. In fact, all but three were able to make the meetings work with their calendars and they personally attended the meetings or followed up afterwards. “We attended on a busy day in the Capitol and we greatly appreciate the special effort exhibited by our delegation in meeting with us,” said McCarty.

The group discussed the importance of the Export-Import Bank (including the need to reauthorize the Bank in September), heard an update on the USMCA agreement to replace NAFTA and the Members’ thoughts on the positive and negative impact of tariffs. Letters in support of the Ex-Im Bank were delivered to U.S. Senators Blunt and Hawley.

Transportation was also a topic of discussion. The group gave each Member copies of letters from AIM and the Missouri Transportation and Development Council in support of a potential INFRA Grant to replace the I-70 Rocheport Bridge and expressed concern with FAST Act rescission of funds that could reallocate $200-$250 million in federal funds from Missouri transportation projects to other states. The group pointed out recent bonding authority may provide some necessary matching funds to use more of the federal money that would otherwise be reallocated. Of course, a major topic was long-range funding of transportation infrastructure projects. The group expressed concern with using a “vehicle miles traveled” (VMT) method of highway funding with regard to vehicles using traditional or alternative fuels and discussed limiting that approach to vehicles that solely use electricity, increasing the federal fuel tax, and developing an equivalency formula to ensure users of alternative fuels pay approximately the same amount as users of traditional fuels for the use of the roads.

The group reiterated opposition to allowing agencies to deposit fines and penalties in “slush fund” accounts that may be spent without appropriation authority and the incentive that provides government regulators to issue such fines and penalties. The group supported refiling a bill similar to H.R. 850, the Agency Accountability Act of 2017, that would restore Congressional oversight of such funds. That measure was co-sponsored by many members of the Missouri delegation.

Federal regulations were also a topic of discussion as the leaders expressed support for the repeal of regulations under President Trump. Support was also given for a newly proposed regulation that would strengthen transparency in the regulatory science used to develop regulations. The group expressed concern with EPA Vapor Intrusion and Regional Screening Level guidance and the dangers of issuing guidance that were neither regulations nor law, asking the Congressional delegation to request the repeal of such EPA guidance. Business leaders also discussed conflicting regulations that exemplified the need for Congressional oversight of such regulations.

Finally, the business leaders thanked the delegation for supporting the Tax Cut and Jobs Act and the positive impact the tax cut has had on the economy. The group reminded the delegation of the importance of extending and making permanent all of the income tax provisions, including the higher threshold for estate tax liability.

It was a whirlwind tour over two days and all who attended felt the time was well spent and the visits were effective and enjoyable. Planning will begin for next year’s trip right away and we hope you may join us next year!

Here are some pictures from the trip – thanks again to all the Members of Congress that met with us:

Governor Parson signs two more environmental bills

June 6, 2019 – Governor Mike Parson today signed two more environmental bills.

Senate Bill 134, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Wallingford and handled in the House by Rep. Tim Remole, repeals the authority of the Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources to levy a penalty of $1,000 per day for violations regarding a solid waste disposal area. The bill also extends the tire fee that would otherwise expire January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2025.

Senate Bill 84, sponsored by Sen. Mike Cunningham and handled in the House by Rep. Sonya Anderson, extends the sunset date on the geologic resources fees from December 31, 2020, to December 31, 2025.