On Monday, Gov. Mike Parson appointed Sen. Gary Romine to the State Tax Commission.
Romine will resign as state senator for the third district to serve as chair of the commission for a six-year term.
“The governor asked me to serve as chair — that’s not part of the original announcement — I told him I would,” I said.
According to Romine, the appointment does require a confirmation from the state senate before being official.
“If the Senate confirms me, which I don’t see any reason they won’t, I’ve talked to all the senators in the chamber and they all support the appointment,” he said. “It should be official Thursday and once I’m confirmed, then I will resign my position and be sworn in later that afternoon.”
Romine was elected in November 2012 to serve Missouri’s 3rd Senatorial District and was re-elected for a second term in November 2016. He has served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Education, and vice chairman of the Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure, and Public Safety. By state law, he is term-limited and could not run for reelection.
With the timing of the appointment and Romine’s resignation, his senate seat will remain vacant until after the election this year.
“A state representative and a state senator cannot be appointed by the governor, that has to be an elected position,” he said. “The governor and I talked about a special election; since there is already going to be an election for that seat this year, it didn’t make sense to expend the extra taxpayer money to have a special election. We agreed not to call a special election for this seat.”
Romine previously served as president and CEO of Show-Me-Rent-To-Own, a business he founded more than 30 years ago. What began as a single store in Leadington, has grown to include nine stores throughout the state. Prior to starting his own business, he taught high school in the Branson and Farmington school districts.
Romine served as chairman of the board for the Ste. Genevieve-based MRV Banks from 2007 - 2013 and was previously the president of the Mineral Area College Board of Trustees, of which he had been a member for several years. He has also been a member of the Association of Progressive Rental Organizations for 30 years, previously serving as president and public relations chairman. During this time, he participated in Federal Trade Commission and congressional hearings, an experience that gave him unique insight into navigating the federal legislative process. Additionally, he has served as a legislative liaison for the Missouri Rental Dealers Association and as a member of the Government Relations Committee for the Missouri Bankers Association.
In this new role, Romine will actually be spending more time in Jefferson City than he does as a senator.
“It’s a full time job in Jefferson City,” he said. “We obviously have some field work, and there will be some research work that can be done by computer, so I can manage my schedule according to that.”
One of the primary responsibilities of the state tax commission is coordinating the local taxing entities. They are the next authority above county assessors and rule on any appeals from the county boards of equalization.
“As most things in Missouri, municipalities and counties really have to work through the state if they want to make a lot of changes. They have to get the state’s permission,” said Romine. “…The commission, it’s the relationship between the state and the county in getting our property tax issues resolved.”
The new role will be totally different than being senator, Romine explained. He will be able to focus on one subject matter instead of legislative topics that cover almost anything.
“Being in the tax commission I will have the ability to affect policy that deals with taxes and taxing entities within the counties,” he said. “The statutory responsibilities of the commission is to make sure we have the most up-to-date system of assessing taxes, which may mean modifying statutes that reflect that.
"One of the things that we want to look at as well is the timeliness of assessments. Some of the issues across the state have been the tremendous increases that some businesses and residents have seen, because there has been a delay in assessments, and there is sticker shock when there is a big bump all of a sudden.”
Romine will go from proposing and voting on legislation to consulting with the house and senate on what tax reforms may be needed and then enforcing the laws enacted.
“The tax commission, because they are directly and intimately involved with the process, puts together recommendations on what changes might need to be made statutorily,” he said. “Then work with the legislative body and present that, and hopefully have a legislator that is willing to file a bill to address and deal with those issues.
"We are more of a research and recommendation position, and then we enforce the statues as they are presented to us.”
Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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