The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

April 22, 2013

Susan Redden: Lawmakers review bills with local interest

JOPLIN, Mo. — Local lawmakers noted several efforts on behalf of area cities and counties during Friday’s “eggs and issues” legislative forum in Webb City.

But a measure that was not discussed — despite lots of local interest — is a bill that would reinstate local governments’ sales tax collections on cars bought out of state.

Governments’ concerns had been addressed by a proposed fix that was passed by both chambers of the Legislature and sent to Gov. Jay Nixon. The governor on Friday announced that he had vetoed the measure.

Both chambers have veto-proof Republican majorities, but Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, who is Senate majority leader, said over the weekend that he expects the bill will be revised and sent back to the governor.

“There’s time for the House and Senate to act; it’s just going to take some minor changes in the language,” he said.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry issued a statement Friday that expressed disappointment with the veto and pointed out that the measure was designed to eliminate the competitive disadvantage for Missouri car dealers caused by a year-old Missouri Supreme Court ruling. The high court ruled that cities and counties could not collect sales tax on out-of-state vehicle purchases unless voters had approved 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.

Tracy King, with the state chamber, said the measure would have restored a decades-long practice.

“It’s a shame these concerns were not shared with the sponsors during the legislative process,” King said. “Fortunately we have enough time left this session to pass an alternative bill that will address the issues outlined in his veto.”

This is the second year lawmakers have passed a bill aimed at addressing the high court decision; last year’s measure was vetoed as well. The governor in his veto announcement said the current bill is a significant improvement over the earlier version, but that it still fails to protect Missourians’ rights to vote on all the taxes the bill would impose.

Some officials have been lobbying for relief from prevailing wage requirements in government-funded construction projects, and Richard said at Friday’s forum that he is hopeful for passage of a measure that would exempt the projects in third- and fourth-class counties from the mandate. Jasper and Newton counties are too large to fall into those classifications, but Richard said the measure as drafted also would exempt Newton County, and would exempt Jasper County for repair and maintenance projects.

In response to a comment from the audience, Richard briefly discussed a bill that would authorize a $15 million state appropriation to Joplin for tornado recovery efforts.

He said he believes the bill stands a good chance for final passage. He said much of the work on the measure has been done by Gary Burton, a former state legislator who is now a lobbyist.

The bill has passed the Senate and will be handled in the House by Rep. Tom Flanigan, of Carthage.

Richard said he asked Flanigan, vice chairman of the House Budget Committee, to carry the bill “because he’s the next budget chair. No one will want to make him mad.”

Women’s march

Missouri Women United is organizing a march for women’s rights set for Saturday in Jefferson City.

It will be the second march by the group, which organized last year in response to what members described as anti-woman legislation and policies in the Missouri General Assembly.

Paula Willmarth, co-leader of the organization, cited bills currently before the General Assembly that she said would further restrict women’s reproductive rights. She said members also are concerned about education, equal pay for equal work, voter suppression, and crimes against women and children.

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.

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