For the past two sessions, I have been honored to chair the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The committee has an outstanding membership, including members from both the majority and minority. While members of any body will not always agree on legislation, it has always been a pleasure to work with my fellow senators.
In addition to Senate Bills 509 & 496, Senate Bill 662, Senate Bill 892, House Bill 1296, House Bill 1454, and House Bill 1710, all of which I sponsored and covered in last week’s Capitol Report, the Ways and Means Committee passed several other priority bills that have reached the governor’s desk. Here are summaries of those bills.
Senate Bill 584 started as a bill to redefine “places of entertainment” because of the Department of Revenue’s expansion of the definition to include instructional and training facilities like gymnastics and dance studios. Because it focuses on specifying current sales tax law, several other clarifications were added. When an administrative branch is redefining and misinterpreting laws passed by previous lawmakers, it is necessary for us to fix that problem in statute.
Senate Bill 612 extends the distribution of the state’s non-resident entertainer and athlete tax to various art organizations. The tax is paid by out-of-state entertainers and athletes when they perform or play in Missouri. By statute, that tax goes to an arts fund, not the general fund. SB 612 clarifies that the fund is subject to legislative appropriation. Similar language was also passed through the committee in House Bill 1237.
Senate Bill 693 started as a tax exemption for vehicles more than 10 years old. Added were provisions to exempt disaster relief efforts form sales taxes, and certain taxes from tax increment financing rules. The bill also contains several other tax exemption fixes mentioned previously.
Senate Bill 727 exempts farmers’ markets from the food sales tax as an incentive for people to buy fresh produce. It also creates a pilot program to encourage the use of SNAP (food stamps) cards at farmers’ markets. Added in the House was a provision to allow drug felons to use the SNAP program.
Senate Bill 860 was written to provide a sales tax exemption for the sale of used manufactured homes. SB 860 was amended to include many of the sales tax exemptions discussed here and in last week’s newsletter.
House Bill 1865 extends a provision exempting tax on utilities used in manufacturing to makers of food and food products. Only the state tax is exempted; local taxes would still apply.
House Bill 2029 extends a current sales tax exemption for the repair of, and the parts required for the repair of, airplanes. Both major airports in our state, located in Kansas City and St. Louis, have fairly new private repair companies who came to Missouri partly for this exemption.
House Joint Resolution 48 creates a new lottery ticket with the proceeds going entirely toward the Veterans Commission Capital Improvement Trust Fund. This will appear on the November 2014 ballot for voter approval.
The governor has already signaled that he may veto several of these bills. His estimates of the cost of these programs are not in line with the official fiscal notes. Most of the sales tax exemption bills passed were heard in multiple committees and on the floor of both chambers. While some were passed on the last day, that is typical in session. It doesn’t mean the bills were not well-vetted. These are reasonable clarifications and extensions of good sales tax policy.
State Senator Will Kraus-R serves District Eight and is a resident of Lees Summit.