Missouri set to become 28th Right to Work state

The Missouri House of Representatives last week Truly Agreed and Finally Passed Sen. Dan Brown’s (R-Rolla) Right to Work legislation, which would prohibit labor unions from collecting membership dues as a condition of employment throughout the state.  It is expected that Governor Eric Greitens will hold a bill signing ceremony on Monday, just slightly more than a month after the 2017 legislative session began.  With his signature, Missouri will become the second state this year and the 28th state to pass Right to Work legislation.

Greitens Releases First State Budget Recommendations

On Thursday afternoon Governor Greitens traveled to Nixa, a suburb of Springfield, to reveal his budget recommendations.  Though House and Senate budget leaders had been warning of a dire budget situation for months prior to Governor Greitens’ inauguration, the nearly $580 million dollars in cuts recommended by the Governor came as a surprise to many observers.  The General Assembly has until May 5 to send a completed budget to the Governor.

Some of the items the Governor recommends cutting includes:

  • $52 million from disabled Missourians seeking in-home care or nursing services
  • $90 million in core funding for public colleges and universities
  • $31 million in transportation for public K-12 schools
  • $3 million from Teach for America

A few areas saw increases including:

  • $3million to the K-12 Foundation Formula
  • $250,000 to create a Blue Alert system to establish a statewide notification system if a police officer is attacked
  • $11million to address opioid addiction

Workforce Development

The House Committee on Workforce Development approved HB94, sponsored by Rep.  Jeanie Lauer (R-Blue Springs).  This bill would allow high school students to take the ACT WorkKeys assessment test instead of the ACT Plus Writing assessment test.  WorkKeys is geared toward students who plan to directly enter the workforce instead of attending college.  It has been widely accepted by industrial and advanced manufacturing employers as a valid assessment of a student’s ability to quickly grasp their processes.

Property Tax Abatement

The Senate Committee on Economic Development approved SB11, sponsored by Sen.  Jay Wasson (R-Nixa), which would make several changes to the chapter 100 property tax abatement program.  Chapter 100, one of the most widely used economic development incentive tools in Missouri, is widely criticized by companies for its complexity.  SB11 aims to streamline the program by updating the list of eligible projects and clarifying the allowance of abatement on personal property.

Historic Tax Credits

The Senate Committee on Economic Development approved SB6, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard (R-Joplin).  This bill would create a mechanism where up to $10 million annually could be redirected from the Historic Tax Credit Program to be used for renovations to the Missouri Capitol Building.  The bill also permanently reduces the cap on the Historic Tax Credit program from $140 to $80 million annually.  Missouri authorized approximately $90 million in these credits last year.  Sen. Richard has asked that cap be reduced to $80 million so that his $10 million spend will be revenue neutral from 2016’s authorized amount.

Tort Reform

Several tort reform measures moved forward this week including:

  • Expert witness-advanced from the House
  • Collateral source– advanced from the House and the Senate
  • Merchandising and venue– on the Senate calendar

Sales and Use Tax

Sen.  Will Kraus’ (R-Blue Spring) bill that prohibits a sales tax on delivery fees was perfected in the Senate this week and is expected to be third read and sent to the House next week.  Sen. Kraus filed the bill following a 2015 state Supreme Court ruling that allowed the state to impose a tax on deliveries and a subsequent letter from the Department of Revenue in July of 2016 indicating businesses could be subject to the tax.

Education Savings Accounts

The Senate Government Reform committee advanced Sen. Emery’s (R-Barton County) education savings account tax credit bill from committee with a vote of 5-2.  The committee also formally adopted a committee substitute that made every child who had attended a public school in the previous twelve months eligible for the scholarship.  Additionally, the substitute strengthened the accountability and put the State Treasurer’s office in charge of issuing the tax credits.