The 2020 legislative session started this week, and I am very excited to be back in Jefferson City and getting to work. I expect it should be a very interesting session.
As we start the 2020 year, Missouri’s economy looks strong, and boasts a low unemployment rate. At the present time, we are currently anticipating a 2.4 percent increase in general revenue collection, a great start as we begin our constitutional duties to ensure a balanced budget in the Show-Me State. I’m proud to say that we take those responsibilities very seriously, and look to continue being fiscally responsible and not spend more money than we have.
Over the past two years, we have managed to actually leave $100 million in reserve each year, which provides a safety net and prevents us from cutting budgets that departments are counting on when revenues dip. With the bright budget picture we currently have, I expect a very good session. To access the Fiscal Year 2020 budget, click the following link. https://house.mo.gov/budget.aspx and then the Fast Facts for 2020.
I expect several of the following large topics to be brought up this year:
1. THE WAYFAIR TAX
During the interim, a special committee worked and studied this issue dealing with a tax on internet sales. The Wayfair Decision by the Supreme Court says that states can mandate that businesses without a physical presence in a state with more than 200 transactions or $100,000 in-state sales collect and remit sales taxes on transactions in the state
This would mean that brick and mortar stores in Missouri would charge you the same tax as internet sales. This will be a rather controversial issue because it could be seen as a tax increase, but Missouri businesses will say it works to level the playing field.
2. PERSONAL PROPERTY TAXES
Personal property taxes are one of the taxes that people dislike the most, and there have been bills filed to do away with personal property taxes completely. In addition to the legislative efforts here, there is also a group that is trying to get signatures to put it on the ballot by use of initiative petitions.
I personally do not like this tax, but in Missouri we collect $1.5 billion in personal property taxes. In St. Francois County, they are used as follows (All numbers are approximated):
■ 92 percent to schools
■ 0.5 percent to MAC
■ 1 percent to Health Services
■ One percent to shelter workshops for the handicapped
■ 0.5 percent to the county
■ 0.25 percent to county road and bridge
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■ 0.5 percent to Senior Services
■ and some for the fire districts and Sheriff’s Department
If we do away with the personal property tax, we will need to look at how we pay for the above listed services and seek alternative funding routes.
3. VLT GAMBLING
The regulation of the illegal gambling machines that have popped up all over the state will be a major issue this session. These machines are in truck stops, restaurants, Elks Lodges and VFW’s all over the state. We will need to look at regulating this practice and collecting the taxes due. A part of this discussion will also include allowing online gambling and taxing it. These types of taxes are usually referred to as sin taxes, and I personally think we need to ban all the illegal machines or regulate them and tax them. The state income tax has been lowered from 6% to 5.18%. If we take advantage of taxing things such as this it allows us to lower taxes on average citizens.
As we begin this session, I have filed five bills so far:
■ HB 1696 is to help the city of Farmington with their industrial park.
■ HB1697 is to help with the billing practices of insurance companies.
■ HB 1698 is about county government ordinances.
■ HB 1898 is the drone bill. It regulates drone use over correctional facilities and open air stadiums. The bill is a safety bill. We had this one almost completed last year and ran out of time. I feel very good about getting it completed this time.
■ HB 1899 is a bill for the corrections department dealing with their Canteen fund.
I will be filing two additional bills next week.To track any and all legislation, go to www.house.mo.gov
Please know you can contact my office with your legislative questions or concerns or your stance on any legislation that is being debated. I will always strive to keep you informed via my capitol reports and through my Facebook account.
It is an honor to serve as your state representative.