MGA Legislative Alert: Dentons Lobby Team Report – Week 12
SENATE FINISHES BUDGET LINE ITEMS
This week the Senate made significant headway on the state budget bills. After going through line-by-line and approving or amending the specific dollar amounts, the Senate Appropriations Committee went back through each bill to make any changes to the House’s language. The Appropriations committee, chaired by Senator Kurt Schaefer, was diligent in finishing the budget and getting the twelve bills to the Senate Floor coming in early every morning and staying exceptionally late Wednesday evening. The Committee made major changes to HB 10 and HB 11, by eliminating many of the line items and combing them together. They granted 100% flexibility to these large line items for mental health and social services, and decreased the budgets by 4% and 6% respectively. With the Senate’s changes to the state budget, the two chambers will eventually go to conference on the bills before sending them to the Governor’s desk for his signature. The goal remains to get the budget to the Governor’s desk a week before the constitutional deadline so the General Assembly has time to override vetoes during the regular session.
HOUSE ADVANCES CHANGES TO ST. LOUIS COUNTY TAX POOL
Legislation to modify the St. Louis County tax pool was voted “Do Pass” by the Select Committee on State and Local Governments. HB 812, sponsored by Rep. Leara, was passed on Thursday morning and will now move to the House floor for debate. Leara’s bill applies to the sales tax in St. Louis County, and, if passed, would establish a new system that distributes revenues in Group B based on the amount of tax brought in by that municipality. Currently, the revenue is distributed evenly to these entities according to population and not according to the amount of revenue each area actually collects. HB 812 would require that at least 50% of the revenue generated within any Group B municipality remain in that municipality. The bill will be added to the House Calendar and may be brought up for debate at any time.
MISSOURI OFFICIALS TAKE EUROPEAN TRADE MISSION
Governor Jay Nixon spent eight days of the Legislative Spring Break traveling to Germany, Italy and Spain with directors of Department of Economic Development and Agriculture, Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, and House Speaker John Diehl. The goal of this European trade mission was to attract additional foreign investment and to increase the state’s exports, potentially in the automobile manufacturing sector. Germany ranks seventh as Missouri’s international trade partner, with Italy and Spain ranking 17th and 32nd, respectively. The group met with Italian cement producer Buzzi Unicem and the German chemical company BASF, along with German car manufacturer BMW. Both Buzzi Unicem and BASF currently have Missouri plants. One thing that stood out to the European trade partners during the week’s meetings was Missouri’s AAA credit ranking, a huge plus in the eyes of foreign investors. The Governor’s trip began on March 20th and concluded on Saturday, March 28th. While there has been no official word on new deals, Governor Nixon says he is optimistic that the trip will generate new business for the state.