Better cooperation between the Missouri House and Senate has led to a speedier legislation process. This week the Senate reviews ethics reform while the House reviews economic development. Here’s a look at the session so far:
KC Spared Earnings Tax Repeal
By Geoff Gerling
The Earnings Tax, Ethics Reform and other legislative actions in Jefferson City were the topics of the discussion at a February 5 South Kansas City Chambers of Commerce breakfast held at the Kansas City Police Department South Patrol community room, 9701 Marion Park Dr.
The state legislature has been in session for roughly a month and is off to a fast start, according to Shannon Cooper of the Giddens Group, a professional government affairs service representing several organizations in the area. Highlights include:
-Ethics reform legislation passed the House but mostly deals with lobbyist gifts and not campaign contributions.
-The bill ending the Earnings Tax in Kansas City and St. Louis was amended to now only apply to St. Louis.
-The Senate is advancing a bill on tort reform in an effort to make Missouri law closer to Federal law when it comes to the use of expert witnesses.
-Senators are considering small increases to the gasoline tax in order to improve the state highway system, but this is being met with strong opposition.
-A House bill requiring a real person be listed as responsible for unoccupied property was approved by committee and looks good to pass a full vote. Currently, Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) are being used as a point of contact, making it very difficult to hold someone accountable when a property becomes dangerous or used for illegal activity.
-The state revenue projection looks positive and could reduce the likelihood of heated fights over the state budget.
Matt Haase, District Director for US Senator Roy Blunt gave a brief update on projects the Senator has been sponsoring recently. He specifically mentioned increased funding to the National Institute of Health for expanded research into brain diseases and mental health. He also mentioned concern over a proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency that would give federal officials control of 99.7 percent of the water sources in the state and could potentially hinder economic development.
Councilman Kevin McManus spoke in favor of the Earnings Tax renewal vote on April 5. The 1 percent tax levied on those earning wages within Kansas City accounts for more than 40 percent of the city’s general fund, 74 percent of which goes to public safety. McManus and other city officials warn that losing this revenue will demand the reduction of 800 police and 550 fire employees.
Each month the joint government affairs committee of the Grandview and South Kansas City Chambers of Commerce bring in representatives of various levels of government to discuss current policy affecting our area.
The next breakfast will be March 4th at 8 am. Members of the community can attend this and other Chamber sponsored events by registering at www.SouthKCChamber.com.