Lobbyist Report

The month of July was relatively quiet on the political front as it typically is in a non-election year.  July seems to be the calm before things pick up again politically in August and September.  Other than some political fundraisers across the state, the biggest news the month of July was which bills the Governor would sign or veto before the July 14th deadline.

All bills passed by the General Assembly are mandated by the Missouri constitution to either be signed or vetoed by the Governor by July 14.  If the Governor neither signs nor vetoes a bill it just simply becomes law on August 28.  The bills signed by the Governor do not go into effect until August 28, another deadline mandated by the Missouri constitution, unless an emergency clause was put into the bill as it passed the General Assembly.  The majority of the bills signed or vetoed by the Governor were in late June and July right up to the deadline. Due to the budget bill signing deadline of June 30, the Governor made most of his decisions on whether to sign or veto bills much closer to the July 14 deadline.

Now that the Governor has made his decisions on which bills he is supporting and which bills he does not, the General Assembly must make their decision whether or not to attempt to override some of the vetoes made by the Governor.  This decision must be made prior to the special veto session held each year in September.  This year veto session will be held on September 11.  Typically, it would be difficult to override a veto of a Governor unless there was bi-partisan support on the bill, but this year both the House and Senate have veto proof majorities, which if the Republicans stick together should be able to override a veto or two.

One bill in particular is at the center of the override controversy, HB253, a bill that among many other things would reduce the state income tax burden for individuals and businesses.  The bill was proposed and passed by two Northwest Missouri legislators who stated these income tax cuts must be made to compete with the State of Kansas for their areas.  The Governor vetoed the bill in June.  While a bill reducing income taxes sounds to be a great bill and no brainer, it is quite a bit more complex than that.  The State of Kansas is in financial disarray since passing its income tax cuts a year ago.  They have lost their bonding rating, raised sales taxes significantly and Education in the State of Kansas took a severe hit.

Here in Missouri the heart of the debate is centered on two things. First, a majority of the revenue the state operates on comes from taxes.  Without a sufficient revenue source to replenish the lost revenues from the income tax cuts proposed in this bill, the state projects it would lose $1.2 billion in operating revenue the first year and nearly $800 million a year each subsequent year.  Schools and Missouri’s health care system are the largest benefactors of state revenues; therefore, they would likely be cut significantly due to such dramatic revenue losses.  Finally, the other highly controversial issue contained in the bill, was a tax put on all prescription drugs.  If the bill were to pass all prescription drugs would be taxed.  Raising the taxes on prescription drugs would significantly impact on some of the poorest Missourians and the elderly, a population in our state that already has very limited income sources, not mention the further impact of these populations if the state’s health care system would take a hit.  Stay tuned, this will be a hot topic all throughout the month of August in preparation for the September 11 veto session.

The following is the fate of the bills of interest to ASA this session:  (1)  Prevailing Wage-HB34-The Governor did not veto this bill nor did he sign it, he allowed the bill to become law by taking no action.  The bill will become law on August 28. (2)  Paycheck Protection-SB29-The Governor vetoed this bill the end of June. (3)  Workers Compensation CCPAP (workers’ compensation classification premium adjustment program credit) – SB34 and HB404-The Governor signed HB404, but vetoed SB34.  Our CCPAP language is safe and will become law on August 28.  The language was in two bills so although SB34 was vetoed, unrelated to our language, our language became law with the signing of HB404. (4)    Mechanic’s Lien Law Changes-SB357-Signed by the Governor and will become law August 28. (5)  Workers’ Compensation-SB1-signed by the Governor will become law August 28.  (6) Unemployment Compensation-SB28 and HB611-SB28 and HB611 were vetoed by the Governor.

If you have any questions regarding which bills the Governor has vetoed and which he has signed, please contact me or you can log onto the following website.  In addition each bill vetoed by the Governor has a veto letter attached explaining why the Governor vetoed each bill.  The website is: http://governor.mo.gov/actions.

Finally, I would like to encourage everyone to attend the ASA-Claybird shoot on Saturday, August 17.  The event is always a great time and it is ASA’s largest PAC fundraiser of the year!