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Legislature overrides some vetoes, leaves majority of tax-cut bills in place

The Missouri State Legislature voted to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of several key bills and approximately 47 budget line items during the Wednesday, Sept. 10 annual veto session. Some of the bills included the special interest tax cut bills.

The governor had vetoed more than 30 bills and more than 100 budget items, which according to Sen. Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles, Senate Pro-Tem) would have provided numerous benefits to the Show-Me state.

The 10 special interest tax-break bills overwhelmingly approved by the House and the Senate in June and vetoed by the governor also were up for potential override, but only two of the 10 were overridden. The governor vetoed House Bills 1296, 1455 and 1865 and Senate Bills 584, 612, 662, 693, 727, 829 and 860.

The two tax-break bills whose vetoes were overridden are Senate Bill 829 (Kraus), which  modifies provisions relating to burden of proof in tax liability cases, and Senate Bill 727 (Chapelle-Nadal), which modifies provisions relating to farmers’ market and SNAP benefits.

SB 829 would require the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) to prove additional tax liability for all taxpayers if the taxpayer meets certain conditions. Taxpayers must produce evidence of a valid dispute, must maintain adequate records (including support for any claimed exemptions) and provide the DOR reasonable access to those records. But if the DOR claims the taxpayer owes additional taxes, including in a dispute over an exemption, the DOR would be required to prove the additional tax liability, the same as the Internal Revenue Service does with federal tax liability today.

SB 727 provides a tax exemption on sales at farmers’ markets. According to information on the USDA website, Missouri has about 141 of the 7,175 farmers’ markets nationwide, or about 2 percent. The same source estimates national sales at over $1.2 billion annually. These figures suggest that Missouri sales are approximately $24 million annually.

The controversial Data Center bill, SB584, was not brought up for vote.

In justifying his veto of the House and Senate bills, Nixon claimed that the bills would take more than $425 million out of the state budget, and more than $351 million dollars away from local tax collections. He also informed the Republican-led legislature that he would withhold $143 million in fiscal year 2015 education funding increases unless his vetoes were sustained.

But House Speaker Tim Jones (R- Eureka) said an analysis by one of the state’s leading business groups directly refutes the governor’s claims.

“Associated Industries of Missouri and the Taxpayers Research Institute of Missouri shows these numbers cannot be supported by fact-based examination,” Jones said in a press statement.

Still, the legislature overrode only two of the governor’s 10 vetoes and Nixon claimed victory. In a press release on Thursday, Sept. 11, Nixon said: “Presented with a clear choice between supporting local schools and siding with special interests, the General Assembly (on Sept. 10) stood with us and made the right decision to invest in the best economic development tool there is: public education.”

In conjunction with that statement, Nixon announced the release of $143.6 million for local school districts and higher education institutions. In addition, he noted that local schools will be spared an additional $93 million cut to their Proposition C sales tax revenues that would have resulted from these tax breaks becoming law.

Other key bills which were overridden include what could be considered a victory for pro-life groups. House Bills 1307 and 1313, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Elmer (R-Nixa, District 139) and handled by Sen. David Sater (R-Cassville, District. 29) changes the current waiting period for having an abortion from 24 hours to 72 hours. The override passed by a vote of 117 to 44.

House Bill 1132, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Engler (R-Farmington, District 116) and handled by Sen. Gary Romine (R-Farmington, District 3) changes the laws regarding a tax credit for contributions to a maternity home, pregnancy resource center or food pantry.

A statement by Pam Fichter, President of Missouri Right to Life, said she was delighted by the vote.

“HB 1132 increases the maximum funding available for pregnancy resource centers through tax credits. As abortions continue to decrease, more and more women are choosing life and are in need of help and services. This increase in available funds for tax credits will help provide those services,” Fichter  said. “We thank the sponsors of these bills. We thank all the legislators who voted for these bills and these overrides. We are especially grateful to the Speaker of the House Tim Jones and President Pro Tem of the Senate Tom Dempsey.”

The veto of controversial Senate Bill 656, sponsored by Sen. Will Kraus (R-Lee Summit, District 8), also was overridden. The legislation would allow schools to train teachers to become “School Protection Officers” and carry guns with which to protect children on campus.

SB 656 also allows people who possess a concealed carry permit (CCW) to openly carry firearms, and it lowers the legal age for a CCW from 21 to 19. The Senate override passed by a margin of 23 to 8. During a House vote on Sept. 11, the veto was overridden by a 117 to 39 vote.

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