AIM for Good Business Issue Articles
Nathan Dampf, AIM Director of Communications, 2/10/2011
This week business scored two huge successes in addition to several others.
The Missouri Senate approved a bill that would eliminate the Missouri corporate franchise tax over a five-year phase-out. The House of Representatives approved a measure that would protect employers from outrageous lawsuits that should be covered under workers’ compensation. The Senate Committee on General Laws heard Senate Bill 1, which establishes Missouri as a Right to Work state. The Senate Jobs, Economic Development, and Local Government Committee held a hearing on AIM’s business income tax deduction, Senate Bill 146. And, the Senate also debated workers’ compensation reform legislation.
Tuesday brought two victories for business. The Missouri Senate approved two measures impacting the Missouri franchise tax. Senate Bill 18 freezes the franchise tax at levels paid by the business in 2010 and Senate Bill 19 adds a provision that phases out the corporate franchise tax in five years. Both bills filed by Senator Eric Schmitt of St. Louis County, are sure to spur economic growth by encouraging businesses to expand or draw in assets from other states that will no longer be subject to the double taxation.
At the same time, the Missouri House of Representatives passed a measure that would protect employers from being sued over occupational disease claims. Originally, occupational disease lawsuits were settled under Missouri Workers’ Compensation law, but after a court decision last spring employees are now able to sue their employers for medical conditions related to occupational diseases such as mesothelioma. Representatives Barney Fisher (R-Richards) and Representative Jerry Nolte (R-Gladstone) combined House Bill 91 into House Bill 162 to protect employers from lawsuits associated with occupational disease and protect employees from liability when a workplace accident occurs. The language received final approval today in the House and will move to the Senate where they debated similar legislation this week.
On Wednesday, the Missouri Senate heard legislation sponsored by Senator Jack Goodman (R-Mt. Vernon). He proposed Senate Bill 8 to protect employers from being sued by employees for occupational diseases. The legislation, however, was altered by an amendment and took out the employer occupational disease protections which were the primary purpose for filing the legislation. While introduced to fix an important business issue and priority, this bill has taken a significant turn and is no longer friendly to business compared to its House counterpart approved this morning. The sponsor of the bill has committed to working with AIM to find language that is acceptable to the business community but also protects workers from situations where an employer intentionally exposes employees to toxic materials without knowledge or consent.
One of the most controversial pieces of legislation filed this year was heard Tuesday in the Senate General Laws Committee chaired by Senator Jane Cunningham. AIM served as the only statewide business association to testify in support of Senate Bill 1. Senator Ridgeway’s SB1 would make Missouri a Right to Work state. The legislation has been introduced in years past, but not seriously considered due to the tight margin of control in both houses. Tuesday’s hearing went on for nearly four hours and was highly attended with overflow into another full committee hearing room and the Capitol hallways. Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) have organized a free event on March 11 featuring Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (CLICK HERE to view a brochure for more details).
Lastly, the AIM-proposed business income tax deduction to help all of Missouri’s businesses was heard Wednesday. Senate Bill 146 (Sen. Schmitt, R-St. Louis County) has received support from both parties and legislative leadership, but with a fiscal note and a tight budget year, the bill is sure to be heavily debated. Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer (R-Dexter) has commented that it would be a great idea, so it may be possible to approve the bill this year, but the effective date may be delayed.
This year has already been positive for business. While Associated Industries of Missouri and the Fix the Six Coalition work to improve Missouri’s business climate, we encourage our members to join the effort as well. If you would like to participate in the advancement of any piece of legislation, please contact AIM so we can give you more timely updates so you can attend hearings or contact your elected officials to urge their support for the legislation.