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Berry calls for special session: Nixon says “No”

State Representative T. J. Berry believes it is time to have a special legislative session to iron out the language in House Bill 253.

Late last week, the principal sponsor of the broad-based tax cutting bill in the House told members of the media that the legislature could hold a special session that would run concurrently with next week’s veto session.

Berry said the biggest point of Governor Nixon’s dissent against the bill is the language that appears to do away with the prescription drug sales tax prohibition. Nixon says that will cost state taxpayers $200 million. Berry said the problem was unintentional to begin with, and it could be dealt with easily by the legislature during a special session.

Berry said it would also be a good time to clear up any other ambiguous language.

“If the problems he has been putting forward the last two months are his only problems, we can fix them pretty quickly,” Berry told the Missouri Times. “If [the governor] is serious about helping the state and not against tax cuts, then fixing some of these other issues and coming to agreement on a final version should be doable.”

The governor has the power to call the legislature back into special session to consider specific pieces of legislation. The legislature also has the ability to call itself back into special session, but it takes three quarters of the House and three quarters of the Senate to sign a request petition.

In his letter requesting the governor call the special session, Berry asked Nixon to release the more than $400 million currently being held back from education and other state departments. Nixon says the withholdings are necessary to guard the budget against what he says will be the negative impact of House Bill 253 taking effect.

“I assure you that, if you call the legislature into extraordinary session, we will have a clean tax cut bill on your desk in a matter of days and at a minimal cost to taxpayers,” Berry wrote. “I would hope this is an opportunity you will carefully consider as you look at what is in the best interests of Missouri citizens and businesses both now and in the years to come.”

But Berry’s attempt was rebuffed by Nixon on Wednesday. Speaking to the Associated Press, Nixon spokesperson Scott Holste said the tax issue was too broad to be considered while the legislature is in town on other business.

“The complexities of a wide-ranging tax bill are such that they should be addressed during a regular session, not during the few days of a special session,” said Holste.

Absent a special session, the bill would go into effect immediately if 109 members of the Missouri House and 23 members of the Missouri Senate vote to override Governor Nixon’s veto.

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