View from the Capitol by State Rep. Ed Schieffer

 Posted on Friday, June 14, 2013 at 8:45 am

After twice defeating a public education reform package sought by House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, the House of Representatives on May 14 voted 107-49 in favor of significantly scaled back education legislation. The Senate voted 32-1 the next day to send the bill, SB 125, to the governor.

In early April, the House voted 55-102 against a sweeping education bill that would have restricted tenure for public school teachers and imposed statewide standards for evaluating teachers and administrators. The House later voted 76-82 to reject a more limited bill that called for tougher evaluation standards only for administrators, along with provisions targeting unaccredited school districts.

The bill sent to the governor merely would speed up the timetable for the state to takeover unaccredited school districts and allow tenured teachers in the St. Louis Public Schools to be fired for incompetency.

For the third time, the General Assembly on May 13 sent legislation to the governor that seeks to circumvent a 2012 Missouri Supreme Court ruling that prohibits cities and counties from levying sales taxes on motor vehicles purchased in other states. Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the legislature’s first two attempts, once last year and again last month.

The latest attempt, SB 23, would redefine how sales taxes on vehicles are charged, with the tax applied to the titling of the vehicle rather than the purchase. Cities and counties would be required to put the new titling sales tax on the local ballot sometime between November 2014 and November 2016. SB 23 also contains numerous other provisions related to taxation, local government and driving while intoxicated offenses.

For decades, Missouri cities and counties had imposed local sales taxes on vehicles purchased by their residents in other states. The Supreme Court, however, ruled last year in Street v. Director of Revenue that no legal authority existed for charging sales taxes on out-of-state transactions. Instead, the court said the appropriate tax in such situations is the compensating use tax.

Because the state and many cities and counties already had a use tax in place, they weren’t affected by the decision. Local governments that don’t have a voter-approved use tax, however, have lost substantial revenue as a result, and Missouri auto dealers say they are losing business as more Missourians buy vehicles in neighboring states to avoid local taxes.

Nixon vetoed last year’s attempt to address the Street decision due to numerous constitutional problems. His second veto was due to flawed language that he said could have created additional problems. Opponents of the latest version contend that it also has constitutional issues that could cause a court to strike it down if challenged.

It is my opinion that the County Commission needs to consider putting the sales use tax on the ballot for the people to decide if Lincoln County can get their fair share of local and county sales taxes on vehicles purchased out-of-state.

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 http://house.mo.gov.

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