The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 14, 2013

Susan Redden: Lawmakers reinstate car sales tax assessments

By Susan Redden
news@joplinglobe.com

— Sales tax proceeds on vehicles bought out of state should soon be returning to the coffers of some local governments.

A bill reinstating the tax has been passed by Missouri lawmakers and is on the desk of Gov. Jay Nixon.

Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said the bill was passed with an emergency clause by both chambers.

“It gives him 15 days to sign it, and it goes into effect then if he hasn’t signed it by that time,” said Richard, who is Senate majority floor leader.

An earlier bill aimed at reinstating the tax was vetoed by Nixon, but Richard said the new version removes elements the governor had found objectionable.

“That one would have imposed the tax retroactively,” he said. “We took that out, and we put in more stringent guidelines on counties and cities.”

The Missouri Supreme Court a year ago ruled that cities and counties could not collect sales tax on out-of-state vehicle purchases unless they also collect a local use tax. The Missouri Department of Revenue at the time estimated revenues lost as a result of the ruling at $431,000 per year for the city of Joplin, $74,500 for Webb City, $69,500 for Neosho, $63,000 for Carthage, $354,000 for Jasper County and $177,000 for Newton County.

The bill before the governor allows sales tax to be collected on vehicles purchased out of state, with the money going to governmental entitles based on the address of the buyer. But local governments must, by November 2016, seek voter approval of a local use tax. The measure also contains provisions for repeal of the tax.

Local government officials across the state asked lawmakers to find a way to reinstate the sales tax, after it was overturned by the Supreme Court. Some said the impact on local governments was greater because it was easier for residents to cross state lines and avoid the tax.

“The tax was collected for years,” said Rep. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage. “All we’ve tried to do is reinstate what was there.”

He said he reviewed the measure Friday in a meeting of Southwest Missouri county commissioners held in Carthage.

“They’re relieved, and counting on those revenues coming back,” he said.



FIRE BAN

At the height of the drought last year, the Jasper County commissioners discussed, then dropped, a proposal to issue a countywide burn ban after they found they lacked the statutory authority to impose such a ban.

That would change if a bill passed last week by the House gets approved by the Senate and signed by the governor. The measure, which passed 136-2 in the House, would authorize any county commission, municipality or fire protection district to adopt an order or ordinance including a burn ban.



TO THE DOGS

With only five weeks to go in the session, Missouri lawmakers still are working on a proposed budget and wrangling with dozens of other issues.

But apparently there’s also time to consider expanding Missouri’s list of state symbols with the addition of Old Drum as the official state historical dog.

A public hearing on the proposal is set for this week before the Senate General Laws Committee.

If you’re thinking Jim the Wonder Dog is the official state dog, you’d be wrong. Jim the Wonder Dog is the official state wonder dog. The measure proposing to honor Old Drum notes that the death of the dog became the subject of an 1870 Missouri Supreme Court case and the delivery of a famous speech as the closing argument to the case.

The long “Eulogy to Old Drum,” repeated in the bill, asserts that while a man cannot depend on friends, family or wealth, the one that will never desert him, or prove ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog.

Jim the Wonder Dog, according to his official state designation, was a Llewellin setter and champion hunting dog that carried out commands based on identifying words such as tree variety; make, color and license number of cars; and occupation of people — whether commands were given in a foreign language, shorthand or Morse code.



SUSAN REDDEN is a staff writer for the Globe. She can be reached at sredden@joplinglobe.com or 417-627-7258. Follow her on Twitter @Susan_Redden.