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State Senate passes House version of tax credit legislation; Senate deadlocks on non-economic damage

The Missouri Senate Tuesday passed a package of tax credit program changes earlier passed by the House.

But a deal on the long-contentious subject appears to be a long way from complete.

“We need to get this bill out of here so we can negotiate,” Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-St. Louis County) told colleagues at the start of floor debate on House Bill 698.

Senators made several changes to the House bill before voting 22-11 in favor of the measure. The bill now returns once again to the House. Because of the changes made to the bill, it will now most likely be the subject of a House – Senate negotiating committee.

The main sticking point appears to be each chamber’s view of tax credit programs for historic preservation projects and low income housing development. The Senate version pares those programs back by nearly $100 million a year, the House version of the legislation lowered the ceilings for the programs only slightly.

Talks between the House and Senate have broken down over those programs on a couple of occasions previously, but there is optimism that a compromise can be forged this year. But the chambers are pressed by the looming end of the legislative session. Whatever agreement is reached, final passage of legislation must be accomplished by May 17 at 6:00 pm, the end of the 2013 legislative session.

In other action Tuesday, after more than eight hours of debate in the state Senate, it appears a bill that would allow caps on non-economic damages in lawsuits has bogged down. Senators debated House Bill 112 deep into the night before retiring.

Senate bill handler, Sen. Dan Brown (R-Rolla) told reporters after Tuesday night’s session he was not optimistic that roadblocks to the bill could be overcome.

The Missouri House on Tuesday gave first round approval to a bill that would expand the Manufacturing Jobs Act passed during the 2010 special legislative session.

House Bill 630, sponsored by Rep. John McCaherty (R-Jefferson County), expands the definition of an eligible business to any manufacturing group that produces goods in the state. Currently only automobile manufacturers are authorized to receive incentives under the act. AIM supports the expansion of the Manufacturing Jobs Act it helped draft.

HB 630 also increases the amount of withholding tax that may be retained by the manufacturers from $15 million to $60 million. The bill faces a final House vote later this week. It then must pass the Senate and receive the governor’s signature before it becomes law.

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