Tammy Long joins Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry staff as Director of the Missouri Chamber Federation

Tammy Long has joined the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry as Director of the Missouri Chamber Federation. In her new post, Long will build the Missouri Chamber Federation, a partnership created to unify local and state chamber advocacy efforts in the capitol in Jefferson City and in Washington D.C. Long will work with executives and members of more than 500 chambers of commerce across the state to expand the overall business community’s legislative engagement and strength. She will build relationships, increase awareness of legislative needs and opportunities and help align advocacy messaging and resources.

Tammy Long

Tammy Long

“There is no better network of Missouri’s employers than that of the chambers of commerce around our state,” said Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Daniel P. Mehan. “Building strong relationships with these community leaders is a vital component of a unified business agenda. Tammy already knows many of these professionals from her many years in chamber work and can turn her experience and relationships into a stronger voice for employers.”

Long comes to the Missouri Chamber with a long history of chamber experience. She served as president of the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau for more than 19 years. In that role, Long managed operations for the 11-member staff, including strategic planning, membership development and support, community involvement and legislative activity. She served as the organization’s legislative lobbyist. Warrensburg’s proximity to Whiteman Air Force Base made military relations a critical part of Long’s responsibilities. Long developed and implemented legislation to support military and Department of Defense installations and assets in Missouri through the Missouri Military Preparedness Enhancement Commission.

Prior to her work at the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce, Long served as a captain in the US Air Force. Long received her Master’s degree in management from Webster University, St. Louis, and a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.

Missouri Chamber applauds 100 Great Ideas for Missouri initiative

JEFFERSON CITY — Speaker-elect John Diehl has launched an initiative to gather ideas from Missourians to improve our state and government. Diehl has launched a website where constituents can post ideas. The website will be complemented with a statewide legislative tour to communities across the state.

“The Missouri Chamber believes the 100 Great Ideas for Missouri initiative is a great way to engage House members with the needs of Missourians,” said Missouri Chamber President and CEO Daniel P. Mehan. “Then best ideas for moving our state forward are not created in the offices of the Capitol, but are born in our communities. Making it easier to deliver these ideas to legislative leaders is a worthwhile effort. We will encourage our employer members to submit ideas.”

Citizens can visit the campaign’s website, 100GreatIdeasForMissouri.org, to submit their ideas. The initiative also uses Twitter (@100GreatIdeasMO) and Facebook to receive feedback.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry (www.mochamber.com) was founded in 1923 and is the largest business organization in Missouri, representing almost 3,000 employers, providing more than 425,000 jobs for Missourians.
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More progress on proposal to halt tax court double standard

Legislation to end an unfair double standard in Missouri’s tax courts made progress in a Senate committee.

The Senate’s Ways and Means Committee heard testimony on Rep. Denny Hoskins’ House Bill 1455, which would ensure all taxpayers are treated as innocent until proven guilty in the state’s tax courts. Currently, businesses with a net worth greater than $7 million come into tax disputes with assumed guilt.

“This change has long been a priority of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. We believe that all taxpayers should be on a level playing field. This bill would put the burden of proof back on Missouri’s Department of Revenue,” said Tracy King, Missouri Chamber vice president of governmental affairs.

This fairness language continues to see widespread support in the General Assembly. Earlier in April, the Senate approved Senate Bill 829, by Sen. Will Kraus, which also contained this language. Sen. Kraus’ bill awaits a hearing in the House.

After hearing testimony on Rep. Hoskins’ bill, the Senate committee amended another bill to contain the burden of proof language, passing it out of committee. This bill is Senate Bill 881, sponsored by Sen. Scott Sifton, a Democrat from Affton.

Other amendments to Sen. Sifton’s bill include includes language stopping the Department of Revenue from demanding exercise businesses collect sales tax. Another amendment would require the department to notify businesses when there is a change in the interpretation of sales tax law, exempting the business from liability if the department fails to issue a notification.

The Missouri Chamber has been voicing concern about how recent Missouri Department of Revenue tactics are harming Missouri businesses. The chamber will continue pressing for final passage of these ideas this year to stop this harmful overreach by the department.

The Ways and Means committee also heard testimony about a bill that would allow sellers to absorb the sales tax on items sold. The practice is currently illegal in Missouri. Click here to learn more.

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

Unclaimed property bill heard in Senate Committee

Legislation that would change the laws regarding unclaimed property in the state was presented this week in the Senate Governmental Affairs and Fiscal Oversight Committee. Senate Bill 995, sponsored by Sen. Scott Sifton, D- St. Louis, would put money back into the hands of Missouri companies and improve the atmosphere for new business development.

“All too often, the unclaimed property that is being reported to the state isn’t truly unclaimed property,” said Tracy King, vice president of governmental affairs for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “This is not the state’s money, and it is not the state’s job to take account transactions and dump it into the general revenue.”

Unclaimed property has become a revenue source for states because if the state can’t find the rightful owner of the property, it keeps the property. This has made states aggressive in their audit practices.

The Council on State Taxation, a national tax association, began ranking states based on their unclaimed property laws in 2008. While most of the states have made improvements over the years, Missouri has remained in the bottom-ranked states in the country with only Delaware, Mississippi and New York with lower rankings.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry will continue to advocate for the adoption of this legislation to protect businesses from the unfair taking of money.

“Compliance with Missouri’s unclaimed property laws is a huge, hidden cost of doing business in this state and amending this law would remove an impediment to doing business in Missouri,” King testified. “To maintain our economic competitiveness, Missouri must continue to improve its business climate in a variety of ways, including the administration of unclaimed property.”

The bill is expected to be voted out of committee the week of April 7-11.

For more information on unclaimed property, please contact Tracy King, vice president of governmental affairs for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, at 573-634-3511 or tking@mochamber.com.

Presidential overtime order places new burden on recovering economy

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is closely watching an executive order signed Thursday that could increase labor costs for businesses across Missouri.

Pres. Barack Obama has ordered the U.S. Department of Labor to change the nation’s regulations regarding paid overtime for salaried workers. Right now, businesses must pay salaried workers overtime if they earn less than $455 each week. Pres. Obama has directed labor officials to investigate raising the pay cut off to allow more salaried workers to receive overtime.

During a time of slow economic growth following a national recession, the Missouri Chamber is concerned that this order could actually work against our recovering economy.

“This is another disappointing, anti-jobs move by the president,” said Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. “Placing additional, costly mandates on business is not how you encourage growth following a recession. Furthermore, using executive powers to bypass the public process of congressional hearings and approval illustrates a failure of leadership.”

As the potential impacts of this executive order are studied the Missouri Chamber will continue to keep our members informed.

Click here to access the President’s memo.

Click here to access a fact sheet on the President’s memo.

Click here to access the President’s Remarks on Increasing Overtime Pay.

Missouri begins discussion to address legal lending

Legal lending is currently an unregulated industry in Missouri, and much of the United States. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other stakeholders are beginning a discussion to bring this practice under a regulatory framework like the rest of the consumer lending industry.

Legal loans are available to plaintiffs to help cover living expenses and other costs as they await a payout from a settlement or verdict. These loans range anywhere from a few thousand dollars, to tens-of-thousands of dollars.

Because the loans are unregulated, interest can compound for years as plaintiffs await the conclusion of their suits. These loans can prolong the length of litigation while greatly diminishing the return for plaintiffs who need the funds the most.

“Lawsuit lenders dodge consumer loan laws because we don’t really have laws that cover them in Missouri,” said Sen. Brian Munzlinger, R-Clarence. “They aren’t covered under banking regulations. There really are no regulations that we have in Missouri.”

Sen. Munzlinger has sponsored Senate Bill 542 which would begin to regulate legal loans.

At a Wednesday hearing on the bill, however, the Missouri Chamber and other stakeholders testified in opposition to Sen. Munzlinger’s bill.

“We applaud Sen. Munzlinger’s efforts to bring forward this legislation and we will continue to work with the senator to bring common-sense reforms to the litigation lending industry,” said Jay Atkins, Missouri Chamber general counsel.

The Missouri Chamber believes that the proposals in the bill aren’t sufficient to protect consumers and ensure these loans are not used to indefinitely prolong litigation to the detriment of Missouri employers.

“It’s not that we don’t think there shouldn’t be regulation, we think that this bill doesn’t go far enough,” said Atkins.

During the hearing, Atkins called for additional protections to be added to the bill, bringing legal lending closer in line with other practices in the loan industry.

Numerous other stakeholders also testified in opposition to the bill while also agreeing that legal loans should be regulated.

The Missouri Chamber will continue to take part in this discussion and seek a strong, fair framework that provides plaintiffs access to credit without compromising future payouts or burdening the legal system with extended delays.

For more information about prevailing wage, contact Atkins at 573-634-3511 or by email at jatkins@mochamber.com.

House committees approve three noteworthy business bills

Three significant business bills passed out of committee in the Missouri House of Representatives this week.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry testified in support of these bills and will continue advocating for their passage as they reach the House floor. Fortunately, two of these bills were passed as “consent,” putting them on the fast track for approval in the House.

In addition to House passage, all three bills must also be approved by the Missouri Senate as well before going to the governor for a final endorsement.

  • Ending the jobs border war with Kansas: HB 1646 and HB1515: This week, the House Special Standing Committee on Small Business passed these bills which seek to end the practice of giving generous relocation incentives to border jumping companies. In House testimony last week, the Hall Family Foundation in Kansas City announced that enticing companies to cross the Missouri/Kansas border, to either side, has cost both states a combined $217 million. The bills are sponsored by Rep. Tim Jones, R-Eureka, and Rep. Kevin McManus, D-Kansas City. They were passed as consent.
  • Funding transportation, HJR 68: With Missouri’s funding for transportation just years away from seeing a huge cut, the Missouri House Committee on Transportation has endorsed a proposal to fund future transportation needs with a 1 percent sales tax. The tax, sponsored by Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, would need approval by Missouri voters and would sunset after 10 years without additional voter approval. Without additional funding, by 2017 Missouri will not have enough funding to continue maintaining our existing infrastructure.
  • Picking up the sales tax tab, HB 1296: It is currently illegal in Missouri for sellers to entice buyers with an offer to pick up the sales tax tab. But House Bill 1296, which was passed as a consent bill this week by the House Ways and Means Committee, would change that. The bill allows these transactions to happen as long as the seller provides an invoice or receipt showing how the sales tax would be absorbed into the total purchase price. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester.

For more information on unclaimed property, please contact Tracy King, vice president of governmental affairs for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, at 573-634-3511 or tking@mochamber.com.