Missouri House gives first round approval to legislation to reduce business fees to lowest in the nation

 The Missouri House has voted to reduce Missouri’s business filing fees to $5 – a $6 million savings for employers setting up shop or expanding in Missouri. More than 60 business filing fees are reduced through House Bill 513, sponsored by Rep. John McCaherty, a Republican from High Ridge. The legislation would give Missouri the distinction of the lowest filing fees in the nation. HB 513 now awaits a second vote by the Missouri House before it can be considered by the Missouri Senate.

“Anything we can do to lower the barriers to entry for Missouri entrepreneurs welcomes these opportunities to our state,” said Dan Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. “This is also about Missouri’s business image.  We are sending an extremely strong message to existing employers and businesses that are looking to move or expand operations in our state: Missouri is doing what we can to lower your business costs and help your business grow.”

The House action is a small but positive step to address a finding from a recent Gallup survey of more than 1,000 Missouri employers that regulations are stifling growth. When asked to cite the biggest obstacle to growing their businesses, Missouri employers answered “government regulations” at twice the rate of any other factor, according to the survey. Specifically, 21 percent cited regulations as their biggest obstacle to growth, compared to next highest factors of availability of a skilled workforce (10 percent) and tax environment (10 percent).

“Business fees are just a part of the regulatory burden on Missouri employers,” said Mehan. “This measure would allow Missouri employers to keep more than $6 million that once went to filing fees. It’s a good first step toward our goal to eliminate all unnecessary red tape holding back business growth.”

A similar bill in the Senate awaits a vote by a Senate Committee. That bill is Senate Bill 157, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Wallingford, a Republican from Cape Girardeau.

The Gallup survey was part of a 12-month effort by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry to produce a 15-year strategic plan for Missouri, called Missouri 2030: An Agenda to Lead. The goal of the plan is to empower Missouri employers with a long-term vision to make Missouri a global economic leader. Missouri 2030 will help our state transcend political cycles, term limits and parties and provide long-term and strategic plan for economic growth. Reducing regulatory burden is part of that plan. To learn more about the plan, go to mo2030.com.

 

MEDIA ADVISORY – FEB. 25, 2015

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry will present a groundbreaking 15-year strategic plan called Missouri 2030: An Agenda to Lead on Feb. 25, 2015 during a press conference at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City, Mo., from 3:00 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. More than 200 business leaders, chamber of commerce executives and elected officials will meet for the launch.  The presentation will include specific recommendations that will be taken to reposition Missouri as a global economic leader and highlight the unprecedented research that went into developing the plan. Jim Clifton, the CEO and Chairman of Gallup, the nationally recognized research firm, will discuss the role Gallup played in developing the plan and how Missouri can win, what he calls, the global jobs war.

Over the last twelve months, the Missouri Chamber has worked with Gallup and leading economic strategist Ted Abernathy to collect the data that is the foundation of Missouri 2030. Gallup surveyed more than 1,000 Missouri CEOs and asked critical questions about how Missouri can better compete. Gallup also gathered insight from site selectors from around the nation and key workforce development professionals. In addition, the Missouri Chamber held regional meetings and spoke with hundreds of Missouri employers, chambers of commerce and local leaders to gather input to include in Missouri 2030.

Please join us to learn about the result of this unprecedented effort to bolster the economy and future of our state.

3:00 p.m.        Introduction of Missouri 2030: An Agenda to Lead (Capitol/Truman Room)

Dan Mehan, President/CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry

                        Rudy Farber, Chairman of Community Bank and Trust, Neosho                         Bob Orscheln, Co-Chair of Orscheln Industries, Moberly

                        Dirck Clark, Chief Strategy Officer of Mosaic Life Care, St. Joseph

                        John Sondag, President of AT&T-Missouri, St. Louis

3:30 p.m.        How Missouri Can Win the Jobs War (Capitol/Truman Room)

Jim Clifton, Chairman/CEO of Gallup

4:00 p.m.        Media Availability (Sedalia Room)

            Dan Mehan, President/CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry

                        Jim Clifton, Chairman/CEO of Gallup

                        Courtney Hesselbacher, Client Services Manager of Gallup

                        Joe Daley, Senior Consultant of Gallup

                        Ted Abernathy, Principal of Economic Leadership LLC

Members of the media are invited to attend any portion of the program.  We ask that the media hold questions until the media availability following the presentations.

 

Data Center Legislation Sails through Senate

The Missouri Senate has Third Read and Passed Senate bill 149 by a vote of 28-4, which would exempt from sales tax resources or equipment used or consumed in the production or facilitation of a data center, including utilities and electricity. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Mike Parson (R-Bolivar)

That provision will give Missouri a significant boost above other states wooing data centers and server farms. A data center is a facility used to house computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems.

“We applaud the Senate for getting this done quickly and sent to the House so that we can see this bill become law sooner rather than later,” Tracy King, vice president of governmental affairs for the Missouri Chamber, said. “This is an opportunity for Missouri to become a leader in data centers and economic development which will benefit the state for years to come.”

Missouri is an ideal location for data centers because it is situated in a geographically low-risk location from natural disasters.  Missouri boasts more than 15 million square feet of subterranean sites carved out of former limestone quarries, providing climate control, enhanced security and reduced vulnerability.  The states central location and abundant, cost-effective power also makes Missouri a prime location for these facilities.

For more information on tax issues or data centers, contact Tracy King, Missouri Chamber vice president of governmental affairs, at tking@mochamber.com, or by phone at 573-634-3511.

House committee takes on data center legislation

This week the House Economic Development and Business Attraction committee took on data center legislation sponsored by Rep. Kevin Austin. House Bill 497 would authorize tax incentives for data storage centers.

That bill, along with others that have been proposed in the Senate, would give Missouri a significant boost above other states wooing data centers and server farms. A data center is a facility used to house computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems.

The data storage centers would be given an exemption on sales tax for up to 10 years, which can become a boon for local municipalities when the ten year provision expires.

“These cities and counties and schools will reap the benefits of these centers when the provision expires,” Tracy King testified. “Right now they don’t exist so the local taxes are not being missed, but when they become available once the provision sunsets, the local communities will really benefit.

“Companies are investing billions of dollars right now to build and establish data centers as the demand for storage of electronic data continues to grow exponentially,” said Tracy King, Missouri Chamber vice president of governmental affairs.

For more information on tax issues or data centers, contact Tracy King, Missouri Chamber vice president of governmental affairs, at tking@mochamber.com, or by phone at 573-634-3511.

Right To Work: How did your legislator vote?

The Missouri House of Representatives voted 91 to 64 to approve Right to Work legislation. Here is how House members voted:

This vote record is courtesy of GovWatch.

AYES – 91

Alferman(R)

Allen(R)

Anderson(R)

Andrews(R)

Bahr(R)

Barnes(R)

Basye(R)

Beard(R)

Bernskoetter(R)

Bondon(R)

Brattin(R)

Brown-57(R)

Brown-94(R)

Burlison(R)

Chipman(R)

Cierpiot(R)

Cookson(R)

Crawford(R)

Cross(R)

Curtman(R)

Davis(R)

Diehl(R)

Dogan(R)

Dohrman(R)

Dugger(R)

Eggleston(R)

Entlicher(R)

Fitzpatrick(R)

Fitzwater-49(R)

Flanigan(R)

Fraker(R)

Franklin(R)

Frederick(R)

Gosen(R)

Haahr(R)

Haefner(R)

Hansen(R)

Hill(R)

Hoskins(R)

Hough(R)

Houghton(R)

Hubrecht(R)

Hurst(R)

Johnson(R)

Jones(R)

Justus(R)

Keeney(R)

Kelley(R)

Koenig(R)

Kolkmeyer(R)

Lair(R)

Lant(R)

Leara(R)

Lichtenegger(R)

Love(R)

Lynch(R)

Marshall(R)

Mathews(R)

McDaniel(R)

McGaugh(R)

Messenger(R)

Miller(R)

Moon(R)

Morris(R)

Muntzel(R)

Parkinson(R)

Pfautsch(R)

Phillips(R)

Pike(R)

Pogue(R)

Redmon(R)

Rehder(R)

Reiboldt(R)

Remole(R)

Rhoads(R)

Richardson(R)

Roeber(R)

Rone(R)

Ross(R)

Rowden(R)

Rowland(R)

Shull(R)

Shumake(R)

Swan(R)

Taylor(R)

Vescovo(R)

Walker(R)

White(R)

Wiemann(R)

Wilson(R)

Wood(R)

NAYS – 64

Adams(D)

Anders(D)

Arthur(D)

Black(R)

Burns(D)

Butler(D)

Carpenter(D)

Colona(D)

Conway-10(D)

Conway-104(R)

Corlew(R)

Cornejo(R)

Ellington(D)

Engler(R)

English(I)

Fitzwater-144(R)

Gannon(R)

Gardner(D)

Green(D)

Harris(D)

Hicks(R)

Higdon(R)

Hinson(R)

Hummel(D)

Kendrick(D)

Kidd(R)

King(R)

Korman(R)

Kratky(D)

LaFaver(D)

Lauer(R)

Lavender(D)

May(D)

McCaherty(R)

McCann Beatty(D)

McCreery(D)

McDonald(D)

McManus(D)

McNeil(D)

Meredith(D)

Mims(D)

Mitten(D)

Montecillo(D)

Morgan(D)

Neely(R)

Newman(D)

Nichols(D)

Norr(D)

Otto(D)

Pace(D)

Peters(D)

Pierson(D)

Rizzo(D)

Roden(R)

Runions(D)

Ruth(R)

Shaul(R)

Smith(D)

Solon(R)

Sommer(R)

Spencer(R)

Walton Gray(D)

Webber(D)

Zerr(R)

PRESENT-NOT-VOTING – 2

Berry(R)

Curtis(D)

ABSENT – 6

Austin(R)

Dunn(D)

Hubbard(D)

Kirkton(D)

Pietzman(R)

Missouri Chamber supports tort reform measure to limit frivolous lawsuits

In an effort to reduce the number of frivolous lawsuits filed in Missouri, Sen. Gary Romine (R) has filed legislation that would introduce fairness into the civil tort process by creating a “loser pays” system in Missouri. Under SB 37, the bill would award attorney’s fees and court costs in cases where a settlement offer was rejected and when the court rules on a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.

Sen. Romine has argued that the system would put some risk on plaintiffs to discourage individuals from filing lawsuits they are unlikely to win. The bill was heard by the Senate Small Business Insurance and Industry committee.

Romine’s bill would also require that when a court rules on a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim the court may award costs and reasonable attorney’s fees to the prevailing party that the court determines are equitable and just.

“The Missouri Chamber is supportive of this legislation because it can reduce the number of baseless lawsuits and lower litigation costs,” Jay Atkins, general counsel for the Missouri Chamber, testified. “It may also create a better business climate and attract new employers to the state.”

Another bill heard by the committee was Senate Bill 227, sponsored by Sen. Ed Emery (R), which would specify that no evidence of collateral sources pertaining to the cost of medical treatment shall be admissible except as provided by the act.

Sen. Mike Kehoe (R) also introduced Senate Bill 233, which would modify provisions relating to expert witnesses.

No votes were taken on the bills.

For more information about this issue, please contact Jay Atkins, General Counsel for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce at jatkins@mochamber.com or by phone at 573-634-3511.

General Assembly begins work on tax and regulation reforms

Three legislative committees have held hearings on bills to encourage business growth by lowering taxes and fighting excessive regulation.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry was present during the hearings on the following bills, all of which are awaiting committee votes.

House Bill 513: Establishing the Lowest Business Filing Fees in the Nation

Rep. John McCaherty’s House Bill 513 would lower Missouri’s business filing fees to $5. If passed, this would give Missouri the lowest fees in the nation.

The bill is supported by Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, a Democrat. Kander’s office collects the business filing fees.

“There have been some changes over the last few years with the Secretary of State’s office. We’ve started doing more things online, started streamlining that process a little bit,” said Rep. McCaherty, a Republican from High Ridge. “So this is an opportunity for us to put about $6 million back into the hands of our small business owners.”

Tracy King, the Missouri Chamber vice president of governmental affairs, said the bill would give Missouri a positive distinction in the economic development community.

“This will actually give us an opportunity to say we are number one in the country in something and this is the right area to be number one in,” she said.

A similar bill in the Senate awaits a hearing in a Senate committee on Feb. 17. That bill is Senate Bill 157, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Wallingford, a Republican from Cape Girardeau.

House Bill 325: Bringing Jobs Home

What happens when a Missouri company decides to expand in another state or country, but then later realizes staying in Missouri would have been the better choice?

Rep. McCaherty’s Bring Jobs Home Act would create a new tax deduction to entice those companies to come back to Missouri.

“A lot of times when those decisions are made, they get to where they thought were greener pastures, they look around and they say, ‘This is not all it was cracked up to be and we’d like to come home…’ We would like to make Missouri an option,” Rep. McCaherty said.

The deduction would cover as much as 20 percent of a business’s expenses when they re-establishing in Missouri. Rep. McCaherty is proposing a $10 million annual cap on the deduction. It includes safeguards that require businesses to repay the deduction if they eliminate the business unit they brought to Missouri within 10 years of receiving the benefit. The deduction would also sunset in six years.

King said the bill would help attract jobs back to Missouri, including jobs that have been outsourced to other countries.

“We’re constantly competing with the eight surrounding states for jobs but we’re also competing globally,” King said. “This legislation would have a positive impact on our work to bring economic development to Missouri.”

House Bill 667: Empowering the Small Business Regulatory Fairness Board

Years ago, Missouri established a special board to help small business owners who feel that state regulations are unfairly burdening their companies. A proposal by Rep. Caleb Rowden, a Republican from Columbia, would reinvigorate the board and give it greater power to help businesses.

Rep. Rowden’s House Bill 667 would change the membership of the nine-member Small Business Regulatory Fairness Board, giving House and Senate leaders the power to appoint board members.

“You have a board that was put in place to help small businesses fight back and have an outlet to fight back against unfair regulation and yet the governor is not putting members on the board and it’s largely sat idle for a long period of time,” Rep. Rowden said.

Rep. Rowden is also proposing to create a new tax credit that the board can issue to small businesses that have been unfairly burdened by state regulations.

King said that she has attended meetings of the Small Business Regulatory Fairness Board and that she agrees that the group needs new direction.

“We have members who have severed on the board who have expressed frustration that the board doesn’t meet regularly and when they do meet they are not really doing the businesses they are charged to do,” King said. “We would like to see the board revitalized.”

Senate Bill 4: Making a Greater Impact with Tax Cuts

In 2014, the Missouri General Assembly passed the state’s first income tax reducing in nearly 100 years. This year, lawmakers are reviewing a proposal to double that tax cut.

The current law will see Missouri’s top income tax drop from 6 percent to 5.5 percent in .1 percent yearly increments during years when state revenue increases by at least $150 million. Sen. Eric Schmitt, a Republican from Glendale, is proposing to lower the tax rate to 5 percent over the same time period by dropping the rate by .2 percent each year using the same revenue growth trigger.

Sen. Schmitt’s Senate Bill 4 would also double the business income tax deduction passed in 2014, from 25 percent to 50 percent when fully phased in.

During a hearing, Sen. Schmitt said his bill would “continue the good work we did last year.”

He said reducing the income tax would encourage economic expansion and allow businesses to invest in growth.

“People deserve to keep more of their own money,” he said. “Businesses deserve to keep more of their own money to invest” in jobs and equipment.

King testified that the Missouri Chamber supports the effort to further reduce the tax burden in Missouri.

“We have a legislative policy that supports broad-based tax cuts,” King said. “This proposal would help Missouri businesses grow send a message outside our state that Missouri is serious about competing for jobs.”

House Bill 384: Encouraging Payment Without Penalty

Rep. Tom Flanigan, a Republican from Carthage, has proposed a bill allowing delinquent taxpayers in Missouri to be given amnesty on all penalties in exchange for paying the taxes they owe to the state.

Under Rep. Flanigan’s House Bill 384, a taxpayer would have to apply for amnesty and then pay their taxes in full between July 1, 2015, and Sept. 30, 2015.

For more information about tax and regulatory issues, contact King at tking@mochamber.com or by phone at 573-634-3511.