The "Voice of Missouri Business" was busy promoting and defending your business in the Missouri Capitol this week . Here is a snapshot of our work on your behalf.
This was the first full week of the 2024 Missouri Legislative Session and the first week of hearings on multiple issues affecting business. Associated Industries of Missouri (AIM) is monitoring 410 of the more than 1,700 bills that have been filed so far this session.
Childcare Incentive Package
The House Committee on Workforce and Infrastructure Development heard HB 1488, sponsored by Representative Brenda Shields, on Wednesday. The bill establishes three incentives to increase childcare options in Missouri. Lack of affordable, quality child care has been identified as one of the biggest reasons some parents and caregivers are not able to enter or re-enter the workforce. Associated Industries of Missouri, the NFIB and many other groups were called upon by Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe to brainstorm solutions over the last several years. This bill is similar to a bill that was very close to passing in the last legislative session.
First, the bill would create the "Childcare Contribution Tax Credit Act". Beginning January 1, 2025, a taxpayer may claim a tax credit for verified contributions to a childcare provider in an amount equal to 75% of the contribution. The tax credit may range from $100 to a maximum of $200,000 per tax year. Employers are eligible for the credit.
The bill also establishes the “Employer Provided Childcare Assistance Tax Credit Act”. Beginning January 1, 2025, a taxpayer with two or more employees may claim a tax credit equal to 30% of the qualified childcare expenditures paid or incurred to a childcare facility. The tax credit may not exceed $200,000 per tax year.
Finally, the bill establishes the “Childcare Providers Tax Credit Act”. Beginning January 1, 2025, a childcare provider with three or more employees may claim a tax credit equal to the eligible employer withholding tax and may also claim a credit in an amount up to 30% of the capital expenditures if they exceed $1,000.
All three programs would expire December 31, 2030.
The bill enjoyed broad support from more than 30 employers, advocacy groups, service providers and local chambers of commerce, including Associated Industries of Missouri and Child Care Aware of Missouri. You may watch video of AIM president Ray McCarty's testimony in support of the bill here (35 seconds):
Local Government EV Charging Station Mandates
The House Government Efficiency and Downsizing Committee heard Rep. Jim Murphy's HB 1511 on Wednesday. The bill would require local governments that have passed ordinances requiring installation of electric vehicle charging stations at private businesses and churches to pay the cost of installation and maintenance of the required EV charging stations. The bill also prevents any political subdivision from requiring more than five EV stations per parking lot. During bill presentation, the sponsor informed committee members the intent of the legislation is to address an ordinance that was passed in St. Louis County that requires any business, except gas stations, that renovate their parking lots, expand their building, or change occupancy to install an electric charging station at 10% of their parking spaces.
Some committee members questioned the bill's impact on local control. AIM president Ray McCarty told the committee this bill did nothing to impede local control, but if local governments want to create such a burdensome requirement, they should pay for it. McCarty pointed out to the committee that local governments supported a constitutional amendment that was adopted by voters requiring the state to provide funding for any mandates they place on local governments. McCarty said the same should be true of local governments placing unfunded mandates on private businesses and churches. You may watch video of his testimony here (52 seconds):
In a related development, the City of Columbia announced they received a federal grant of $3.6 million to build 44 electric vehicle charging stations - a cost of more than $80,000 per charging station. The award is one of nearly 50 projects across 22 states and Puerto Rico under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI) grant program that aims to build an electric vehicle charging network. To date, Columbia is the only grant recipient in Missouri.
Brain Cancer Treatment Device Sales/Use Tax Exemption Clarification
Rep. Dr. Lisa Thomas' HB 1817, a bill to clarify the exemption of durable medical equipment from sales/use taxes, was heard Wednesday in the House Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Thomas gave the history of the bill in prior years, noting there was no opposition and unanimous or near-unanimous approval in all House committees and by the full House. She explained the bill was expanded in a Senate committee last session to include multiple exemptions that bloated the cost to over $1.5 billion.
AIM president Ray McCarty told the committee the bill would apply to devices used to control the growth of inoperable brain tumors and the intent was to make the exemption crystal clear for creative government lawyers that have refused to honor the plain language of the existing exemption statute. The Missouri Dept. of Revenue also testified in support of the bill. You may watch the hearing on the bill here (less than 10 mins.):
The Senate Committee on General Laws convened Wednesday morning to discuss SB 745, sponsored by Senator Mike Bernskoetter. Currently, the maximum duration for unemployment benefits is 20 weeks. The bill ties the maximum weeks of unemployment benefits to the state’s unemployment rate. The bill would allow up to 8 weeks of benefits when the unemployment rate is 3.5% or less and add an additional week for each 0.5 percentage point in unemployment rate, up to a maximum of 20 weeks if the unemployment rate is above nine percent. Associated Industries of Missouri and the state chamber supported the bill and the AFL-CIO opposed the bill in the hearing.
Increased Linked Deposit Cap
HB 1803, filed by Rep. Terry Thompson, would increase the amount of money the State Treasurer may invest in linked deposits through MOBUCK$, a program that provides lower interest rates on loans made to businesses. State Treasurer Vivek Malek testified in support of the bill at a hearing of the House Financial Institutions Committee on Tuesday. The bill would increase the current $800 million limit on linked deposits to $1.2 billion. The program allows the state to invest money at banks at lower interest rates and the bank uses those funds to provide loans at lower interest rates to certain borrowers. AIM supports the bill as it is used by many businesses, particularly smaller businesses that have difficulty obtaining affordable loans.
The House Economic Development Committee on Wednesday heard HB 1960, the "Regulatory Sandbox Act" sponsored by Representative Alex Riley. The bill provides small businesses creating innovative products in all industries a way to waive or suspend certain regulations for two years by applying to the Regulatory Relief Office created within the Department of Economic Development. The bill also eliminates the Small Business Fairness Board because they have not had a quorum or the capability to meet over the past ten years. The sponsor stated since he introduced this legislation three years ago, three states have now passed this language including Utah, Kentucky, and Arizona.
AIM president Ray McCarty told the committee he expressed concern in previous sessions that the program may allow some new businesses an unfair advantage over established businesses, but he said those concerns were addressed by allowing the use of the program to be vetoed by any state agency or the Regulatory Relief Office, and he said AIM was now in full support of the bill.
We will keep you informed as we continue our work on your behalf in the Missouri Capitol.
Thanks to Trent Watson at Watson Governmental Consulting who provided content for this article.