SB 509 (Income Tax Reduction) is on the Governor’s desk awaiting a signature or a veto. Contrary to the negative media campaign being waged by the Governor and his staff, SB 509 will not devastate education nor will it allow those making over $9,000 to not pay state income tax (costing $4.9 billion in revenue each year).
First, the legal interpretation required to support the Governor’s assertion that those making over $9,000 annually would not pay any state income tax when the bill is fully implemented violates every common principle of statutory interpretation, and is basically ludicrous.
Second, the argument that, even without the $9,000 no tax argument, the bill will reduce revenue by over $600 million a year is deceiving and false. The bill reduces personal income tax and small business pass through tax by 0.5% and 25% respectively in 5 steps over a period of time. Each reduction would be 0.1% and 5% respectively. Between each of the reductions, general revenue must increase by $150 million over the highest of the preceding 3 years before the next step of tax cuts are implemented. This actually generates more revenue than it cuts.
Third, the implication that any loss in revenue would come entirely and directly out of education funding is misleading and untrue. During my first two years in the legislature we had to cut $1 BILLION from the state budget due to the recession. K-12 education was not cut during either of those years. The budget committee and the legislature appropriated funds from general revenue each year as it sees fit. Last year, the legislature added approximately $66 million to K-12, above the Governor’s request which he promptly withheld as leverage against last year’s tax cut bill. In our current budget bills, we have added additional funding to education. Again, I use the word ludicrous to respond to the assertion that the Missouri House of Representatives is anti-education.
SB 509 is a good clean tax reduction plan with failsafe provisions between each rate reduction that will provide economic stimulus to Missouri’s citizen and small business by allowing them to keep, invest, and/ or spend more of their hard earned money as they see fit.
Legislative Week Recap
SB 491 (Criminal Code) was Truly Agreed and Finally Passed by the House 140-15. This bill, with its companion HB 1371, is the product of more than 6 years of work by houses, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and many other groups to streamline, clarify, and improve the administration and application of Missouri’s criminal code. The bill is over 600 pages long and revises the entire criminal code. Several of the new features include creating a new classification of misdemeanor and a new classification of felony to better allow the punishment to appropriately fit increasing levels of severity of criminal activity. It will also increase the punishments for individuals who sexually abuse children and for assault crimes in general. Also, habitual drunk drivers who endanger others on the road will receive harsher punishments, and there will be a stair-step approach for drug-related crimes that would give additional flexibility to prosecutors and courts in the disposition of drug-related cases. The effective date for the legislation is January 2017 to allow for continued scrutiny by an even broader spectrum of parties. Representative White voted for this bill.
HB 2238 (CBD Oil) was third read and passed by the House 139-13. This bill allows the use of CBD Oil, an extract from a selected strain of cannabis (hemp) plant is select epilepsy patients. It is a proven, and in some cases lifesaving, treatment that has been used for decades around the world, but has been banned from even clinical studies by the feds due to the
potential political fallout. This is not a medical marijuana bill. The production and extraction of the drug will be restricted and tightly regulated by the Department of Agriculture here in Missouri. The strain of plants to be used for the oil has 0.03% of the THC of the average cannabis plant (it cannot make anyone “high”). A neurologist can order the treatment after all the appropriate conventional therapies have failed. Production will be limited to two licenses that can have up to three CBD oil refinement centers. This therapy has been proven to reduce the level of seizures for medically applicable patients from a near catatonic state with many hundreds of seizures a day to one every week or two. Representative White voted for this bill.
HB 2126 (Use of Deadly Force) was third read and passed by the House 122-30. This bill extends the Castle Doctrine to allow an individual who is occupying private property under the authority of the property owner to use deadly force to protect life. For example, it would protect a house guest or a babysitter if they had to use deadly force to protect the children in the house from an armed intruder. Representative White voted for this bill.
HB 1655 (Motorcycle Helmets) was third read and passed by the House 93-56. This bill changes the law so anyone 21 years of age or older does not have to wear a helmet when operating or riding as a passenger on any motorcycle or motor tricycle on any state highway. Representative White voted “no” on the bill and strongly argued against the bill because helmets not only saves lives and people from debilitating head injuries, but also saves taxpayers millions of dollars each year for care of those injured and/or disabled. The Governor has vetoed this bill every year.
HB 1936 (Primary Elections) was third read and passed by the House 84-67 (after the voting board was held open for a long time and pressure was applied for Representatives to vote for it). This bill changes the primary election day from the first Tuesday after the first Monday in August to the first Tuesday after the third Monday in June. The time period for filing a declaration of candidacy for a primary election will be moved from the second Tuesday in January to the first Tuesday in February. Representative White voted “no” on this bill because it would put the primary campaign season during the legislative session causing incumbents to be distracted in their duties in Jefferson City by trying to get reelected in their home districts.
HB 1304 (Malt Liquor Packaging) was third read and passed 147-2. This bill changes the definition of “original package” of malt liquor for liquor licensing purposes to include individual cans and pouches. Representative White voted for the bill.
HB 1952 (Commercial Pesticide Applicators) was third read and passed 147-5. This bill removes the requirement of a certified commercial pesticide applicator to furnish the evidence of financial responsibility with the Director of the Department of Agriculture in order to renew the license, unless the director requests the evidence. Representative White voted for this bill.