View from the Capitol by State Rep. Ed Schieffer

In the closing days of the 2013 legislative session, a small group of senators blocked a final vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that would have put a 1 percent transportation sales tax on the November 2014 statewide ballot for voter ratification. The tax hike would have generated an estimated $8 billion over 10 years, with the proceeds constitutionally earmarked for transportation projects.
The measure, SJR 16 appeared on the verge of winning final legislative approval after the House of Representatives passed it 100-57-1 on May 14. Although the Senate had easily passed SJR 16 earlier this year on a 24-10 vote, opponents mobilized to prevent the final Senate vote needed to send the measure to voters.
If ratified by voters, the new 1-percent transportation tax would have increased the overall statewide sales tax rate from 4.225 percent to 5.225 percent. The new tax would have expired at the end of 2024 unless renewed by voters for another 10 years and would have continued to be up for renewal every decade thereafter unless rejected. SJR 16 also would have prohibited the General Assembly from increasing the state fuel tax, which currently is 17 cents per gallon.
A proposed constitutional amendment that would enshrine the “right to farm” in the state Bill of Rights will go on the statewide ballot next year after clearing the General Assembly on May 14 by votes of 132-25 in the House of Representatives and 28-6 in the Senate. The proposed amendment will automatically go before voters in November 2014 unless Gov. Jay Nixon exercises his constitutional authority to set an earlier election date.
HJR 11 would state that agriculture is the “foundation and stabilizing force of Missouri’s economy and provide that “the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state.”
Gov. Jay Nixon on May 10 indicated that he will likely veto a proposed income tax cut for businesses and individuals that would cost the state at least $692 million a year in lost revenue once fully phased in. According to The Associated Press, Nixon stopped short of promising a veto but said: “At this time, I’m certainly not looking at it with an eye to add it to the structure of Missouri government.”
Lawmakers sent the tax-cut bill to the governor on May 9. Once fully implemented in 2024, HB 253 would cut the corporate income tax rate from 6.25 percent to 3.25 percent and reduce the top individual rate from 6 percent to 5.5 percent. People who report business income on their individual tax returns would also receive a 50 percent deduction on that income. The tax rate deductions, however, wouldn’t take effect unless annual state revenues increased by at least $100 million over their highest level in the previous three fiscal years.
As always, I respect your trust and value your advice, comments and questions.  Let me know how I may serve you and your family.  Now that the Legislature is adjourned, I am home in the District.  I would be available to meet with groups or individuals locally. Please call me at (573)751-9459, toll free at (855)285-3781, locally at (636)299-3270 or (636)462-7295.  If you wish to fax my office, our number is (573)522-0441.  You may email me at ed.schieffer@house.mo.gov  or elected11thmorep@excite.com.  You may also check the final outcome of legislation at www.house.mo.gov .

Posted on Sunday, June 2, 2013 at 9:00 am