The end of April means that the final weeks of the legislative session are just around the corner. The 2019 legislative session ends on May 17. To date there has been very few pieces of legislation that has made it across the finish line, including many of the Governor’s priorities. We expect to see a flurry of
legislative activity these final couple weeks of the legislative session.
As far as ASA priorities, legislation to fix the Brentwood Glass Supreme Court decision is making its way through the General Assembly. Senate Bill 167, sponsored by Senator Sandy Crawford, seeks to remedy a situation created by the court decision, where a subcontractor or supplier had no recourse for
non-payment on public works contracts for non-governmental purposes.
After months of negotiations between ASA, bond writers, the Surety Association and general
contractors, the legislation is in a good position and stands a good chance of getting across the finish line. The bill has been approved by the Senate and appears poised for approval in the House of Representatives. There were some minor changes made to the bill in the House which means the bill will have to go back to the Senate for a final vote. Since all parties to the bill have agreed with the changes, we don’t anticipate any issues getting the Senate to agree with the changes made.
Highway funding is another item of interest that continues to be discussion point in the General
Assembly. Early in the year, Governor Mike Parson had outlined his vision for a $351 million bonding proposal for bridge repair and replacement throughout the state. Since that time, Legislative leaders have put forth their own ideas. House budget writers have committed to placing $100 million of general revenue
dollars into bridge repair for the 2020 fiscal year, with promises of continuing that funding level for the next four years. Meanwhile, the Senate spent long hours debating their own plan, Senate Joint Resolution 14. The measure was brought before the Senate on the afternoon of April 9, with debate lasting until 2:30 the following morning. In the end, Senators agreed to a plan calling for $301 million in general obligation bonds, to be paid back over seven years. The final Senate vote was cast several days later, with the measure passing by a 26-7 margin. Governor Parson paid close attention to the Senate agreement stating, “We are thrilled to see the Senate take significant action today on our shared priority of infrastructure. Today’s strong bipartisan vote is a result of focused efforts by the legislature as we work together on an infrastructure plan to move Missouri forward”. Differences between the House and Senate plans must still be reconciled, with House Budget Chair Cody Smith stating the Senate action is a “step in the right direction”.
Several other proposals to address highway funding are in various stages of debate, including increases in fuel taxes, but none are poised to cross the finish line at this point.
In other legislative news, the General Assembly continues debate on the merits of a state sales tax on certain internet sales. Several versions of the legislation are in various stages of debate in the Capitol, but they all have met some form of resistance. Sponsors point to the fact that businesses having a physical presence in the state face unfair competition from out-of-state vendors who sell their goods on-line and are not required to remit sales taxes. Also mentioned is the fact that state revenues are lagging this year and the dollars provided by internet sales taxes could help fill that void should the trend continue in coming years. More than half the states have passed legislation to collect internet sales taxes with several more considering doing so.
We will continue to keep you updated on issues and happenings in Jefferson City that impact ASA and the construction industry. Nikki Strong, Strong Consultants.