By Eli Yokley
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. —
Legislation being considered by lawmakers would put a bull’s-eye target on Missouri for firearms manufacturers looking to move to gun-friendly states.
State Rep. Bill White, R-Joplin, tacked the legislation on as an amendment to the Missouri Quality Jobs Act. If it is approved, gun and ammunition manufacturers would be able to claim tax credits for any new jobs created.
In an interview, White said that while he is typically “not a huge fan of tax credits,” he thinks something should be done to lure the gun and ammunition manufacturers that are looking to move out of some states that are passing laws that limit their industry.
“If I was one of those guys, why would I look at Missouri?” he said. “They’re just not going to look. We should do a tax credit for this.”
The bill would place a $3 million cap on the program, which would expire in six years. White said any new jobs would have to be created for a year at 120 percent of the average county wage, which he said is around $36,000 in Jasper County.
“If they keep the person for three years, they get to keep the money,” he said.
White said he has drafted letters to a handful of gun and ammunition manufacturers urging them to consider moving to the region in the event the bill is passed. He said the Missouri Department of Economic Development also is putting together data on tax credits that would be available through the program, and Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder supports the effort.
The bill, one in a set of nearly two dozen pro-gun bills moved through the General Assembly this year, has received strong opposition from the Democratic minority.
State Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis, said she was solidly opposed to the bill.
“He had no details as to jobs created, estimated revenue anticipated,” she said. “Why this industry? Existing tax credits have been seriously evaluated the past few years, and we are not giving other industries tax credits this freely.”
White’s proposal comes as other states are taking similar steps to court gun manufacturers.
Recently, dozens of lawmakers in South Carolina signed a resolution inviting gun manufacturers to that state.
“We just wanna get the word out that we’re here in South Carolina, and we’d love to see good businesses, and we believe that those are some of the good businesses,” said state Rep. Ralph Kennedy.
The resolution lists the possibility of incentives, success with other businesses, the status as a right-to-work state and a belief in the Second Amendment as reasons to consider setting up shop in South Carolina.
PTR Industries, a Connecticut gun company, has said it is considering a move, citing the cost of doing business in the state, especially after Connecticut passed stricter gun laws following the school shooting in Newtown. More than 40 states have contacted PTR about the move.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry also has put out a welcome mat for gun makers.
In April, he turned to Twitter to welcome PTR.
“Hey, PTR,” Perry posted on Twitter. “Texas is still wide open for business!! Come on down!”
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS contributed to this report.
THE BROADER BILL that caries Rep. Bill White’s amendment is currently in a Senate committee. White’s amendment was added late in the session, but since the bill is a larger economic development measure, it could move forward as lawmakers move into the final week of the legislative session.