AIM Legislative Policy
AIM Planning & Policy Committee, 11/10/2011
2012 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
Business Income Tax Reduction
Phase in a deduction of 50% of business income that is reported on individual income taxes and cut the corporation income tax in half over five years. Total cost of the 50% deduction is approximately $215 million according to the fiscal note data provided by the Missouri Department of Revenue. If phased in at 10% increments beginning in tax year 2012, the fiscal impact would be $43 million in FY 2013, $86 million in FY 2014, and $129 million in 2015. But this cost would be at least partially offset by an increase in taxes from wages and salaries from jobs created when businesses understands Missouri is on track to have the lowest income tax on business income (among the states with an income tax). This economic stimulus would apply to ALL types and sizes of businesses, regardless of the type of income tax they pay.
Sales/Use Tax Refund Reform
Support changing Missouri’s refund procedure for sales/use taxes to allow taxpayers that
actually paid the tax to a vendor to seek a refund directly from the Missouri Department of Revenue if the vendor refuses to seek the refund on behalf of the purchaser or otherwise assigns their rights to the purchaser, allowing them to receive the refund directly from the Department. Also, provide statutory language requiring the Department of Revenue to hold refund claims in abeyance, pending the outcome of identical or very similar cases, to prevent unnecessary legal expenses for taxpayers when an issue arises that affects many taxpayers.
Property Tax Appeals
Support legislation that clarifies that certified appraisers are not required for property tax
appeals before Boards of Equalization.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION & SECOND INJURY FUND
Second Injury Fund
The Second Injury Fund has been abused for years by the plaintiff’s bar. Associated Industries of Missouri supports reforming the system effective 8/28/2012 to eliminate permanent partial disability claims, require that the original injury or condition be a compensable Worker’s Compensation injury or due to military service, offset awards by amounts received by other employer-funded or government disability payments, lowering the interest payable on outstanding claims to a reasonable amount - from the current 9% or 10% to a rate similar to that used for tax delinquencies (currently 3%). Because of the large backlog of claims yet to be settled, after reforms have been implemented, AIM supports increasing the SIF surcharge from 3% to 4.5% in 2013. AIM supports establishing a review committee made up of the Governor, Attorney General, Speaker of the House and Senate President Pro Tem and requiring a ¾ vote of that committee to increase the surcharge above 4.5% beginning in 2014, with a maximum rate cap of 6%. January 1, 2020, the current rate cap of 3% would be reinstated. This plan allows the system to be reformed and provides a responsible means of funding outstanding claims. This proposal would be combined into one bill with the other two Workers’ Compensation legislative initiatives in this section.
“Occupational Disease” Coverage
Missouri employers want to ensure employees that contract occupational diseases are allowed to have their claims continue to be covered under the Workers’ Compensation system. Recently, the courts have decided most of these claims should not be covered under the Workers’ Compensation system and we need legislation to make sure these claims are covered, as they have been for many years.
Fellow Employee Liability
Also, we must relieve fellow employees from liability when acting in the regular course of their employment and accidentally injuring a co-worker. Recent court decisions have allowed a claimant that received a Workers’ Compensation settlement to sue his fellow employee for damages. Missouri employers want to protect our employees from these unnecessary lawsuits when the employees are acting within the regular course of their employment.
LEGAL AND COURT REFORM
Missouri employers want to eliminate the ability of plaintiffs to sue supervisors and employees in their individual capacity, a tactic often used by plaintiff’s attorneys to shop for a more favorable venue for employment law claims. We also want to confirm that the federal standard of proof in discrimination cases is followed in Missouri: the discrimination must be a motivating factor in the dismissal. We also want to ensure the law protects legitimate whistle blowers who alert authorities to illegal activity performed by their employer or who refuse to engage in illegal activity at the request of their employer. Current law has resulted in some settlements for former employees when no violation of the law was contemplated by the employer.
Damage caps should also be imposed on claims to mirror the caps imposed on similar claims in federal cases.
Missouri employers want to eliminate the concept of “joint and several liability.” Current law allows judgments to be collected from any party that is at least 51% at fault. We want to make sure a party’s liability for payment of a judgment is directly related to the percentage of fault.
Missouri employers collectively have borrowed more than $725 million from the federal government to pay unemployment claims. The ability to issue bonds to repay these loans to the federal government already exists in the law, but the Board of Unemployment Fund Financing must issue these bonds and they have failed to do so. Missouri employers would repay the bonds through a surtax established in current state law. The State of Missouri is not obligated to repay the bonds, nor will the bonds hurt the state’s ability to incur other bonded indebtedness. Because of the inaction of state officials, EVERY Missouri employer can expect a tax increase of about $21 per employee as they will lose Federal Unemployment Tax credits. That amount doubles the following year and triples the next year. The BUFF must issue bonds to avoid further tax increases on all Missouri employers.
Minimum Wage Indexing
Missouri’s minimum wage law allows an automatic inflation adjustment that could result in a higher minimum wage in Missouri than the federal minimum wage. As the minimum wage increases, the ability of employers to continue to employ workers is damaged, particularly affecting entry level workers. Missouri employers want to ensure the minimum wage in Missouri does not exceed the federal minimum wage.
No Stricter, No Sooner Than Federal Law – Hazardous Waste Rulemaking
Establish a provision that prevents the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the
Hazardous Waste Management Commission from enacting regulations that are more restrictive than federal requirements or that require action sooner than federal requirements, similar to language in the clean air section of Missouri law.
Manufacturing Jobs Act
Expand Missouri’s Automotive Manufacturing Jobs Act to all manufacturing areas. The state should establish incentives that reward significant capital investments and help Missouri manufacturing facilities retain jobs.
Data Center Incentives
Establish incentives for the attraction of new data centers in Missouri, to allow Missouri to compete for the location of such centers.