Senate Mired Down, Hearings on Two Important Bills, Amnesty Attached to Another Bill
When I finally stopped monitoring last night’s Senate debate at nearly 2:00 a.m. this morning, it looked like passing any bills would be a struggle. The outlook was just as dismal today as Senate and House deliberations over the state budget continued. When money is tight, it is much tougher to craft a budget that provides necessary services and makes the best use of taxpayer’s money. However, there were two Senate Committee hearings and successful amendment of a Senate bill in the House that are worth mentioning.
Yesterday, we told you about our refund language that allows taxpayers to seek refunds directly from the Missouri Department of Revenue in situations where the vendor chooses not to participate in the refund claim. That bill, HB 1504, was Truly Agreed and Finally Passed and will await the Governor’s signature.
Today, Rep. Tom Flanigan attached an amendment to SB 591 in the House that added tax amnesty, DOR collection procedures, AIM’s refund language and AIM’s language allowing tax cases to be held in abeyance pending the outcome of a test case. The final fate of the bill will be decided after the ice thaws in the Missouri Senate: either the Senate will accept the amendment, the bill could be sent to a conference committee to decide which issues should be included in the final bill, or the Senate could simply refuse to take up the bill for debate. Some senators have expressed disagreement with the amnesty provisions, allowing taxpayers to register and pay taxes without interest or penalties, in exchange for a long term commitment to continue to pay taxes. In the post Sarbanes-Oxley business environment, some companies need a little incentive to register for taxes in Missouri that may or may not be due.
Debate on the Senate floor yesterday left few indications of any short-term solution to the problems expressed by some senators with the budget process, nor is there any short-term solution to some senators’ objections to the general state of politics. However, today a Senate committee heard testimony on HB 1540, a bill dealing solely with the worker’s compensation issue of co-employee liability, preventing lawsuits against fellow employees in workplace accident situations. That bill, supported by AIM, was heard and approved by the Senate Small Business Committee.
Another Senate committee, the Senate Commerce Committee, heard HB 2099 dealing with the AIM-supported issue of whistle-blower protections, clarifying that a person claiming protection as a “whistle-blower” must actually be “blowing the whistle” on illegal acts of the employer, or actions that would violate regulations or public policy of the state. The committee took no action today, but has another meeting scheduled for tomorrow to decide whether to advance the bill.
Both bills are scaled-back versions of legislation previously vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon. A bill addressing both the co-employee liability and occupational disease issues was previously vetoed by the Governor, as was a bill that would align Missouri’s discrimination laws with current federal discrimination laws and provide whistle-blower protection. We do not know if the Governor will sign either of the narrowed bills heard by the Senate today.
At Associated Industries of Missouri, we make sure Missouri employers’ voices are heard during deliberations that affect your business’ ability to thrive. Enabling your business to thrive in a world economy is what we are all about. Stay tuned for more updates as the legislative draws to a close in less than two weeks.
If you are not a member of Associated Industries of Missouri, call our office today for information on how you can be a part of the oldest general trade association in the state and make your voice heard. Our office number is 573-634-2246 or you may visit us on the web at www.aimo.com. Also, please be sure to enter your email address in the upper right hand corner of this blog to receive updates as we post them so you and your employees can stay informed on developments at the Missouri Capitol that affect your business.