Poll: Right to Farm-“Too Close to Call”
August 4, 2014

An independent poll released in the final days of the Missouri primary indicates the proposed ‘Right to Farm ’ amendment (Amendment #1) could end up being a tight race on Tuesday night.
““Amendment 1 is going to be determined by turnout and could go either way,” according to Titus Bond of the Remington Research group, the firm that conducted the poll.
The survey of 1,115 likely primary voters taken last week shows 48% of the survey supporting Amendment #1 1, 40% opposed and 12% heading into the last days of the campaign.
Bond thinks voter turn-out will be a key factor in determining who wins the race. Overall, turn-out is expected to be light across the state of Missouri.
Another proposed constitutional amendment is a close race is Amendment #8. That would create a special lottery ticket with the proceeds dedicated to funding Missouri’s veteran services. The state runs seven veterans homes. There is a waiting list of 1,900 persons for beds in those locations.
According to the poll, the veterans lottery ticket plan is in trouble. 46% of the survey oppose it; 41% support it and 13% are undecided.
Two other proposed constitutional amendments are appear poised for big victories.
Amendment #5, which would make the right to bear arms in Missouri an inalienable” right, has almost 2-to-1 lead.
60% of the survey supports it, 31% oppose it and 9% remain undecided.
Amendment #9, which extends privacy rights to electronic communication, is also in good shape.
67% support Amendment #9; 20% oppose it and 14% are undecided.
Remington says it did not poll on Amendment #7, the transportation sales tax question, “due to a conflict of interest”, according to a statement from the firm.

Opposition Group Forms to Opppses Missouri Transportation Tax
June 10, 2014

(AP) – A new group has formed to oppose a transportation sales tax measure that will appear on Missouri’s August ballot.

The proposed constitutional amendment will ask voters whether to impose a three-quarters cent sales tax for roads, bridges and other transportation projects.

Thomas Shrout Jr. is treasurer of the new group, Missourians for Better Transportation Solutions. He’s taking issue both with the type of tax and the way the money would be spent.

Shrout says the sales tax would affect consumers on fixed incomes but wouldn’t require much money from big trucks that travel across the state. He says a fuel tax or tolls would be fairer.

The opposition group wants a bigger emphasis on public transportation instead of roads.

Shrout says he doesn’t expect opponents to raise much money.

Lawmakers Work on Business Incentives in Last Day
May 18, 2013

(AP) — Missouri lawmakers revamped four of the state’s main business incentives on the final day of their legislative session, but failed Friday to pass a broader measure that would have scaled back costly tax credits for developers.

The overhaul of Missouri’s current job-creation incentives flew quietly through the House with less than two hours remaining before the session’s mandatory adjournment – a sharp contrast to the public flame-out of the broader tax credit measure in the Senate earlier in the day.

The mixed results on Missouri’s economic development initiatives mirrored the final day’s general tone.

A high-profile proposal that would have asked voters to impose a 1 cent sales tax for transportation stalled in the Senate under opposition from some anti-tax Republicans. Yet lawmakers referred a proposed constitutional amendment to the 2014 ballot that would allow prosecutors to use evidence of a defendant’s past crimes in child sex abuse cases.

Legislators also gave final approval to dozens of other bills, including a budget patch that could prevent cuts to early childhood programs and medical care for the blind.

Republicans this year held their largest legislative majorities since the Civil War era. Many GOP priorities had been sent to Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon before Friday, including a projected $700 million income tax cut that Nixon indicated he will likely veto.

Republicans have also passed new labor organization restrictions, numerous pro-gun measures, a change to the state’s education laws governing unaccredited schools and a bill that would restock an insolvent state fund for disabled workers.

“We showed leadership this year,” said Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, who held his post-session news conference four
hours before the session’s official 6 p.m. close.

House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, called it one of the most productive sessions in recent memory.

“It was a session of historic accomplishments and substantive reforms that will improve the quality of life for all Missouri families and pave the way for a better business environment,” Jones said.

Lawmakers repeatedly defeated Nixon’s top priority: a proposed Medicaid expansion that would have tapped more than $900 million of federal funds to cover about 260,000 lower-income adults under the provisions of President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Nixon praised the Legislature for increasing funding for education and mental health. But he said “this session fell far short of what Missourians have a right to expect,” because lawmakers failed to expand Medicaid or pass broad-based tax credit reform.

Senate Minority Leader Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, called it a session of “lost opportunities and misplaced priorities.” House Minority Leader Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis, said it was “an absolute abject failure” when Republicans “let Medicaid expansion die.”

The business incentive measure passed Friday would consolidate the current Quality Jobs program and three other tax breaks into the new Missouri Works program, which was one of Nixon’s priorities. Like Quality Jobs, the new program would offer tax breaks to businesses that add a certain number of jobs that meet particular wage thresholds and include health benefits. But it would lower job and wage thresholds for businesses to qualify and grant greater discretion to the Department of Economic Development in determining how much money the businesses should get.

Missouri Works would be capped at $106 million next year and gradually rise to $116 million in 2016 and thereafter. That’s slightly lower than the combined cap of $128 million annually under the four current incentives being eliminated.

A separate plan that failed Friday would have created new incentives targeted at computer data centers, investors in startup technology companies and exporters who use Missouri airports to ship cargo to foreign countries. It also would have renewed a tax credit for a developer who has amassed large swaths of land in north St. Louis and scaled back existing tax credits for developers of low-income housing and historic buildings statewide.

The House voted 122-32 Friday for a plan that would have reduced annual tax credits for large historic preservation projects to $90 million from the current cap of about $140 million and imposed a new $10 million cap on smaller projects. The measure would have gradually lowered the cap for the state’s main low-income housing tax credit to $110 million annually from the current $135 million.

Overall, the legislation scaling back developer tax breaks and creating new incentives for certain business sectors was projected to save the state almost $460 million over the next 15 years.

But Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah, said the restrictions on developer tax credits did not go far enough. He accused developers of exerting undue influence over House members and, at one point during a filibuster, asserted that “the leadership in the House is corrupt.”

“Just because the House continues to defend a handful of developers, a handful of donors, doesn’t mean the Senate should cave to a bad deal,” Lager said.



Missouri Highway Transpoprtation Tax Gathers Momentum
February 6, 2013

Mo Capitol at nite(AP) — Missouri lawmakers on Tuesday proposed increasing the state sales tax by a penny for the next decade in order to raise money for the state’s transportation needs.
Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, and Sen. Ryan McKenna, D-Crystal City, introduced a proposal that would require voter approval to enact and to renew after 10 years. Supporters estimate it would generate nearly $8 billion over a decade and could support more than 250,000 jobs.
“It’s the best time for the investment right now,” said Kehoe, who previously served on the state’s transportation commission. “Missourians are going to get a great value on construction work.”
The senators and two Republican House supporters touted a sales tax proposal at a news conference near an ongoing road-widening project on U.S. Highway 50.
Kehoe said the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission would be asked to develop a list of specific projects and indicate how the new revenue would be spent before the measure appears on the ballot. If voters passed the tax, the commission would produce an annual report for the Legislature and governor.
Ten percent of the revenue would go to cities and counties for local transportation needs.
In addition, Missouri would freeze the gas tax rate and could not turn existing roads into toll roads. The sales tax would not be levied on medicine, groceries and gasoline.
“There’s nothing tricky that we’re trying to hide here. We’re strictly trying to take moneys needed for infrastructure investment and put them to work in our state so that we continue to expand,” Kehoe said.
Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, filed a version of the sales tax measure in the state House on Tuesday with more than a dozen co-sponsors.
There has been growing concern about funding for Missouri’s transportation system. In 2006, then-Transportation Department Director Pete Rahn said the annual highway construction budget would decline significantly by 2010 as bond payments for past projects came due. The funding decline was delayed because of federal economic stimulus money that was approved in 2009, but in the last year, the state’s highway construction funding has fallen from $1.2 billion to less than $700 million.
A transportation task force said in a report released last month that Missouri should be spending an additional $600 million to $1 billion annually for transportation. The co-chairman of the task force is Bill McKenna, who is a former lawmaker, highway commissioner and the father of Ryan McKenna.
Last month, transportation commission Chairman Rudy Farber proposed a 1-cent sales tax increase and joined the lawmakers Tuesday. That proposal included setting aside $1 billion to add an eastbound and westbound lane on Interstate 70 between Independence and Wentzville with money also going to cities and counties and to the state for road, transit, rail, waterway, aviation and other transportation projects.
“Transportation is key,” Farber said Tuesday. “It does two things: jobs and safety. And we need them both. We need to make sure that we do as well for the generation that follows us as the generation that preceded us.”
Legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon this year also have indicated support for a bonding package that could pay for construction at state facilities and college campuses.
Nixon said continuing discussion about long-term transportation needs is important. However, he said he sees addressing the bond proposal this year and transportation needs next year. House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, is sponsoring a bonding proposal in his chamber. Jones said he is interested in both ideas but would like a sales tax measure to be revenue neutral.