Economics Prof Doubts Missouri Sales Tax Holiday Boosts Economy
August 2, 2013

Post Dispatch:
A new school year is approaching, and shoppers will head to stores this weekend for a tax-free holiday on school supplies, electronics and some clothing.

John Mollenkamp, acting director of the Missouri Department of Revenue, says shoppers can save up to 8 or 9 percent if local governments also participate in the tax breaks.

UMSL associate professor of economics Lea Kosnik said such sales make people excited to run to the stores and spend money they may not normally spend.

But there is still uncertainty about how much these sales tax holidays actually stimulate the economy.

“One of the good things, I suppose, about it is it’s kind of like a feel good factor—things that people probably consume and do a little bit more of than they should,” Kosnik said. “And so this tax-free weekend could help local businesses, but it might lead to some spending that you shouldn’t do. If anything, I feel like the behavioral economics side of this might reinforce that a tax-free weekend isn’t always as good as it sounds on paper.”

Businesses also may be more prone to increase prices or not have as substantial of sales during a tax-free holiday.

In addition to improving income for local businesses, helping low-income families and stimulating the economy are possible goals for such tax breaks. But Kosnik said the information just isn’t there to find out if the breaks are effective.

“I do think that the data would help to make it more efficient for sure,” she said. “It’s hard to say right now exactly how efficient or inefficient it is. But if we have the data, then if it is efficient we can increase the areas where it’s working best, or if we found out it was inefficient in certain areas, then maybe we could vote to repeal it. Data would be great for helping with the efficiency of the tax-free weekend.”

Revenue Department spokeswoman Michelle Gleba told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the department does not keep data on tax savings during these holidays.

Several states have ended their sales tax holidays, citing the lack of economic stimulus and the need for broader tax reform, including New York, North Carolina, and Illinois. North Carolina will have their final tax-exempt weekend this weekend, a tax reform effort made recently

Anti-Scanning Bill Heads For Governor’s Desk
May 16, 2013

hand guns for sale(AP) — Less than six months after the state Revenue Department began scanning driving applicants’ personal documents into a state computer system, Missouri lawmakers sent the governor legislation Wednesday that would force the department to stop.
Republican lawmakers began pushing for the measure after learning about the new license procedures early in the legislative session. The push accelerated in March after a Stoddard County man filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s new licensing procedures. They said that scanning documents, such as birth certificates and concealed weapons permits, were an invasion of privacy. But Revenue Department officials defended the procedures during several legislative hearings on the matter and said they provided increased security and cut down on fraud.
The bill passed the Senate 25-8 on Wednesday and the House earlier this week. It would prevent any future document scanning and would require the department to securely destroy any documents collected since September 2012.
The legislation now heads to Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon whose administration has been under attack from Republicans over the new procedures. Nixon said earlier this year that the department would no longer scan concealed weapons permits but would continue the procedure for other documents. Former Revenue Department Director Brian Long also declined to stop scanning other documents when questioned by a Senate panel in April.
The department began scanning documents shortly after a clerk in a St. Joseph license office pleaded guilty Dec. 11 in a scheme to accept false identification documents that federal prosecutor say resulted in Missouri licenses being issued to more than 3,500 people living illegally in the U.S. New license procedures were implemented that required local license office clerks to scan documents into a computer that had previously just been shown by applicants to the clerks.

Federal Investigator to Testify This Week on CCP Info Scanning Probe
April 30, 2013



(AP) — A federal investigator with the Social Security Administration plans to testify before a Missouri Senate committee looking into the disclosure of a list of concealed gun permit holders.
The Social Security Administration confirmed Monday that Special Agent Keith Schilb of the inspector general’s office will appear Wednesday before the Missouri Senate Appropriations Committee. The Senate had issued a subpoena Friday seeking his testimony.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol acknowledged recently that it had twice obtained a list of Missouri concealed gun permit holders and provided it to the Social Security Administration for a potential investigation into fraudulent claims for disability benefits. But the patrol said federal investigators were unable to read the computer disk of information and so destroyed it.
Some Republican lawmakers contend the shared information violated privacy rights.

House Passes Measure Shifting Concealed Weaspons Permit Process to Sheriffs, Eliminates DOR’s Role
April 24, 2013

Capitol at night(AP) — Legislation that would remove the Missouri Revenue Department from the process of printing licenses to carry concealed weapons was given first-round approval Tuesday by the Republican-controlled House concerned about new driver’s license procedures.
The Revenue Department began a new process last December that requires local license office clerks to scan documents, such as birth certificates and concealed weapons permits, into a state computer system. That process has angered Republicans who say it is an invasion of privacy. Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon announced earlier this month that the Revenue Department would stop scanning the weapons permits.
But the measure sponsored by Rep. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, would leave the Revenue Department out of the concealed weapons process despite the governor’s announcement. It would give county sheriffs the responsibility for printing a special card for concealed weapons permit holders.
Missouri’s sheriffs already have the responsibility of receiving concealed-carry applications, reviewing applicants’ backgrounds and issuing paper permits. But recipients currently take the paper permits to a local license office overseen by the Department of Revenue to receive a photo ID card noting their concealed-carry endorsement.
The Missouri Sheriff’s Association said it is willing to take over the responsibility for printing permits if the Legislature provides some funding. The Senate answered that request and passed a budget bill Monday night that would give $2 million to a sheriffs’ task force to fund grants to issue the licenses.

Nixon Says New Mo. Drivers’ License System Not Intended to “Mess With People”
April 3, 2013

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says a controversial new driver’s license process is not an attempt to “mess with people” by building a database of personal information.

Nixon responded during a news conference Wednesday to complaints by some Republican lawmakers about a new licensing process in which clerks make copies of applicants’ documents such as concealed gun permits and birth certificates. Some Republicans fear Missouri may be trying to implement the 2005 federal Real ID law, which set stringent proof-of-identity requirements for photo IDs.

Nixon denied that Wednesday, noting that he signed a 2009 Missouri law prohibiting the state from implementing Real ID.

The governor says his administration is, quote: “not collecting a bunch of unuseful data to send to some sort of magical database someplace to mess with people.”