Let’s get to business: Veto session should focus on job growth

The Missouri legislature is set to return this week to consider overriding a number of Gov. Jay Nixon’s vetoes.

Following the regular legislative session, which ended in May, Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed 33 bills—just two vetoes shy of the all-time high for vetoes by a Missouri governor. Among the bills vetoed by Nixon were several important business proposals that had been supported by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and endorsed by both the Missouri House of Representatives and the Missouri Senate.

“As we seek to get Missouri on a path toward greater growth, the Missouri Chamber and our state’s business community felt we had made significant progress this year—only to have our work derailed by the governor’s vetoes,” said Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri Chamber President and CEO. “With the General Assembly reconvening this week, we have a chance to finish the job and make 2014 a year when growth and employment were the top priorities in Jefferson City.”

The Missouri Chamber will be working hard in the capital this week to secure veto overrides for a number of pro-business laws, including:

  • Tax court fairness: There is an unfair double standard in Missouri tax courts: Some business taxpayers are innocent until proven guilty, others are guilty until proven innocent. The General Assembly passed House Bill 1455, sponsored by Rep. Denny Hoskins, a Republican from Warrensburg, and Senate Bill 829 sponsored by Sen. Will Kraus, a Republican from Lee’s Summit, to finally bring equality to our tax court system—giving every tax defendant the right to arrive in court as innocent until proven guilty. The governor vetoed this change.
  • Giving businesses a heads up: The Missouri Department of Revenue currently has the power to change tax rules, not notify businesses of the change and then issue harsh penalties when businesses don’t conform to the new rules. Senate Bill 662, sponsored by Sen. Kraus, would require the Department of Revenue to notify businesses when they make a change in their interpretation of the state’s sales tax laws.  In addition, the bill would clarify corporate apportionment legislation passed last year to ensure all companies can utilize this new statute whether they manufacture products or sell services or intangibles. The governor vetoed this proposal, which can also be found in House Bill 1296, sponsored by Rep. Andrew Koenig, a Republican from Manchester.
  • Unemployment insurance reforms: The recent economic recession left Missouri’s employers with a massive unemployment debt to repay. Unemployment insurance reforms passed by the House and Senate this year were intended to help ensure future economic downturns are less costly. Senate Bill 673, sponsored by Sen. Mike Kehoe, a Republican from Jefferson City, ties the number of weeks Missourians can receive unemployment benefits to the state’s unemployment rate. This was vetoed by the governor.
  • Investing in our workforce: Governor Nixon also used his veto pen to axe funding from several critical programs aimed at growing new businesses and helping Missouri workers retrain for new jobs. The governor’s vetoes eliminated a funding increase for the Missouri Works Job Development Fund, cut all funding for the Small Business Regulatory Fairness Board, eliminated funding for the state’s Small Business & Technology Development Centers and would close seven tax assistance satellite offices across Missouri. The Missouri Chamber is asking that the funding approved by the General Assembly be restored.

As the veto session opens, the Missouri Chamber calls for business leaders and all Missourians to contact their local representative and senator and ask them to focus on business issues during the 2014 veto session.

“With all the divisive issues that are on the table, it’s always a fear common sense job growth ideas could be overshadowed by politics and grandstanding during a short veto session,” said Mehan. “We need the business community to help us encourage the General Assembly to use this time to help push our state forward, grow jobs and increase our standing in an increasingly competitive global economy.”

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

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