One of my legislative priorities came closer to crossing the finish line when the Senate passed the compromise version of Senate Bill 23 which I introduced early in this session. This bill began as a simple one page bill that only related to the hotel/motel guest tax in Pettis County. As it made its way through the legislative process, it picked up additional language. Since not every bill introduced in the legislature becomes law, most legislators look for other bills onto which to amend their priorities. This became the case with Senate Bill 23.
When the bill came back from the House it had grown to almost 200 pages. We then held a Conference Committee with the House to determine which amendments should be removed to get to a final version. Several of the amendments that were offered were of substantial benefit to many of Missouri’s citizens. I wanted to make sure to end up with a good piece of legislation that included these provisions. Ultimately it was my goal to make sure that what we passed was of maximum benefit to the people of the state. To that end, we worked with other Senators and Representatives, as well as staff from the governor’s office to craft a bill that could gain a sufficient number of votes in each chamber to pass and win the approval of Governor Nixon. From my standpoint, I tried to include provisions that had already either passed in at least one chamber or been heard and voted on in a public committee hearing. I attempted to make sure that what was included represented good common sense values.
We included two provisions that will be of benefit to Joplin in the aftermath of the tornado that occurred there two years ago this month. One will make it easier to implement Tax Increment Financing for development projects in disaster areas. Not only will this help Joplin immediately, but will be in place if catastrophes happen in the future. The other establishes the ‘Rebuild Damaged Infrastructure Fund’ to assist in getting necessary services rebuilt quickly and thoroughly in disaster areas. In addition to providing immediate relief to victims of natural disasters such as the Joplin tornado, it is important to reestablish the needed infrastructure so families know they can rebuild in the area and have access to needed services. Without this assurance, many times people relocate to other cities and towns, further adding to the decline of the affected area.
Another provision in the final version was a bill I had introduced early in the session to try and give our local merchants a level playing field when competing against online retailers. This language changes the requirements of which internet sales are subject to Missouri tax. No one likes paying more taxes, but as online shopping has become more popular, it has placed our local businesses in a tough position when they have to charge state and local sales taxes that are not present with internet sales. This is a matter of fairness as these local folks sponsor T-ball teams, fundraisers of all kind, and any other variety of causes to benefit the community. They also have invested the expense of putting up buildings and paying local property taxes on their property, inventory and equipment.
The state budget was passed and sent to the governor a full day ahead of the constitutionally mandated deadline. Unlike many states and the federal government, Missouri must pass a balanced budget. We are not allowed to deficit spend. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I know firsthand the tough choices we are forced to make so that the budget balances. There is never a shortage of good ideas competing for funding, but when the process is finished, we must be able to report to the taxpayers of Missouri that we were good stewards of their hard earned dollars.
‘Nothing is Politically Right Which is Morally Wrong’
If you have any questions or comments regarding issues in state government or within the 28th Senatorial District, please feel free to contact my office. Contact Information: Senator Mike Parson, State Capitol Building, Room 420.
Phone: 573-751-8793 or 800-752-8256. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org