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AIM for Good Business Issue Articles

Tax Cuts & Employment Law Reforms Progress in State Capitol

Nathan Dampf, AIM Director of Communications, 3/4/2011



Last week, Associated Industries of Missouri (AIM) was pleased to inform our members that the Missouri House of Representatives and a Senate committee gave their approval to employment law reforms. This week, those measures were again approved, but this time, Missouri business has more to be thankful for since the legislation has progressed further than it has for the past five years.


Wednesday evening, the full Senate gave its first stamp of approval to legislation filed by Senator Brad Lager that will help preserve Missouri’s “employment at will” doctrineSenate Bill 188 was approved by a voice vote. The bill now goes to the Senate Ways & Means and Fiscal Oversight committee, where it will be reviewed before final Senate approval.


The full House passed a similar, yet differing bill last week.  SB188 will now go to the House for consideration, then, if changes are made, a conference committee will debate any differences before the bill can be Truly Agreed and Finally Passed. Upon those votes, Gov. Nixon would then have the option of signing the bill into law or vetoing the bill and leaving Missouri businesses subject to the frivolous litigation that has been hurting businesses for years.


“In addition to the Senate’s approval on the employment law measures, Missouri’s business community also had a victory as the House approved the franchise tax elimination on Thursday,” said AIM President Ray McCarty. “Each chamber has passed four of the fix the six priorities, it is just a question of whether the two chambers can come together on the differences contained in the tax cuts, employment law reforms, workers’ compensation reforms, environmental program extensions, and any others that may pass this year.”


While the Senate passed Senate Bill 19 weeks ago, the House of Representatives picked up their own version of the same bill on Thursday. House Committee Substitute to House Bill 76 was approved by a vote of 106 – 52. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Nolte (R-Gladstone) eliminates Missouri’s Corporate Franchise Tax and is similar to the legislation approved by the Senate.



Other Business Priorities Advancing this Week:


·        HB 466 would give employees the right to choose whether their union dues could be used for political activities.  The bill was heard in a House Committee.  Associated Industries testified in favor of the legislation on behalf of Missouri employers – Missouri labor groups were opposed.


·        The Missouri Senate debated unemployment legislation that would extend the length of time employers have to repay bonds that will repay the nearly $800 million borrowed from the federal government to pay unemployment claims.  Several senators expressed opposition to the bill and AIM leadership met with one of those senators to explain the legislation is necessary to avoid a large tax increase on Missouri employers at a time when the economy is just beginning to show signs of recovery. The senators’ concerns center around the length of time that should be allowed to employers to repay the bonds. Without the legislation, the state has said no bonds may be issued, leaving employers with no choice but to pay a federal unemployment tax increase of $21 per employee in January 2012.  We ask that you contact your senators and let them know the importance of issuing these bonds.  Following a meeting with Senator Jason Crowell, one of the senators objecting to the legislation, he offered to help employers obtain a legal opinion that would allow the bonds to be issued without extending the repayment terms.


·        Legislation was heard in a Senate committee that would combine several economic development programs into one program with similar definitions and a combined limit on expenditures. AIM supported the legislation.


·        A bill, supported by AIM, that would lower the state’s Corporation Income Tax rate, eliminate the Corporation Franchise Tax, and replace the revenue with a half percent sales tax advanced from a House committee. This legislation is different from AIM’s priority bill that would simply cut income taxes for ALL Missouri businesses with no corresponding increase in sales tax, but the advancing bill could be necessary if legislators are concerned about the impact of cutting the tax rate on the state budget, which is facing major shortfalls this year. AIM’s position is that money left in employer’s hands will help stimulate the economy in the proper way, allowing employers to use the money in a way that promotes jobs and economic health.


·        Last, but certainly not least, the Missouri House approved legislation this week filed by Rep. Jerry Nolte, that would prevent Missouri’s minimum wage from exceeding the federal minimum wage. Another priority of AIM, this legislation would keep Missouri competitive with other states and help prevent job losses associated with a state minimum wage that could exceed the federal minimum wage under current law.