Thursday, March 22, 2018

O’Brian in Senate 32

As speculated, Rob O’Brian filed to run in Senate 32 to replace Sen. Ron Richard. O’Brian is the president of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce.  This sets up a primary with Rep. Bill WhiteThe Joplin Globe has reported that O’Brian’s patrons include: Richard, David Humphreys, and Steve McIntosh.


Driving the Day

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce’s lawsuit against the Missouri Ethics Commission MEC goes before Judge Patricia Joyce this morning at 10AM for a bench trial in Cole County.

From the Chamber’s blog: “The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry filed the lawsuit last September, challenging the Missouri Ethics Commission on a confusing advisory opinion that blocks businesses from putting money into their own political action committees. Under the commission’s new rule, businesses in Missouri are allowed to set up political action committees. They can also send money to political committees set up by other companies. But if a business tries to invest in its own political action committee, that business could face fines and penalties…

The language in Amendment 2 did not forbid businesses from funding their own political action committees. The Missouri Chamber argues that this decision is an error by the state’s ethics regulators and must now be fixed in the courts…”


Missouri Tax Policies Could Use a Guy Like Joel

Director of Revenue Joel Walters has published a paper surveying Missouri’s tax system. See it here.   It offers suggestions and observations to advance the tax reform debate.  It’s an interesting read.  And a shame that the effort he’s exerting comes at a time of historic weakness in the executive branch with Governor Eric Greitens’ underwater approval rating and the continuing distractions of investigations.

Walters has previously declared the big points: he’s concerned by Missouri’s overreliance on income taxes.  That coupled with his belief that the state income tax depresses productive economic behavior, leads him looking to alternatives.

Of note, here are his thoughts on implementing a corporate tax change:  First, any tax reform would need to reduce complicated special provisions presently available in Missouri. Second, tax reform would need to fix Missouri’s complicated apportionment system. Third, tax reform would need to simplify state tax

compliance—the burden of untangling the inherent complexities in Missouri’s corporate income tax law is far too great to support a healthy economic climate in Missouri. Fourth, tax reform should end Missouri’s current practice of rewarding businesses for choosing one legal entity type over another. Fifth, tax reform should pursue a stable revenue source. Finally, any tax reform should be implemented strategically using economic triggers. Closely monitoring and revaluating throughout the reform process will be key to success.

And his thoughts on the state sales tax…  While the sales tax is simple in concept, in practice it is one of the most complex state taxes. More than 200 exemptions or exclusions currently riddle Missouri’s sales and use tax base.

He’s really worried about the impact that local sales tax rates are having…. Nationally, the average local sales tax rate is 1.81%, less than half of Missouri’s average of 3.64%... According to a study by The Tax Foundation, only 13 states have higher combined state and local sales tax rates than Missouri.

From an economic perspective, Missouri’s combined state and local tax rate can affect the decisions of consumers and businesses that pay a significant portion of the sales tax on their input purchases.

Currently, Missouri does little to limit the nearly 2,300 local sales tax jurisdictions that complicate the state’s overall sales tax environment. Missouri’s combined state and local sales tax rates range from a low of 4.725% in Clinton and St. Clair Counties to highs of 10.863% in Woodson Terrace (a municipality in St. Louis County)…

And while Walters is clear he’s just raising ideas for discussion, and not necessarily endorsing this idea, he does raise the possibility of a state-wide cap…  Local control of local issues is an important goal, but state oversight seems prudent in the face of Missouri’s ever-expanding sales tax landscape. A statutory sales tax cap could mirror Missouri’s “Mack’s Creek Law,” which

places a cap on the amount of revenue that municipalities can generate from traffic tickets.

The document is weakest where it sounds out of touch – over-emphasizing the impact of tax policy.  Like this bit: Adopting a working family tax credit could help counteract the potential regressivity of sales taxes and allow lower-income workers to increase spending on basic needs. This option could incentivize lower and middle-class employees to generate more earned income.  I’m doubtful there are folks in poverty who says that lack of an incentive is the reason they don’t “generate more earned income.”


GOP Suburban Troubles

Yesterday I mentioned a Republican legislator who is concerned for their outlook in the suburbs.  Following up on that, one example would be in House 31, Blue Springs.  It’s a place where Dems haven’t even filed a candidate in recent cycles. And now Rep. Dan Stacy is considered vulnerable.

The Democrat, Travis Hagewood, has labor backing and this recent tweet shows that he’s already working his messaging in a way that might relate to suburban women... “50 members in the Missouri house voted against a bill that would raise the age to get married to15 with parental and judges consent. I’m not going to say who these 50 are, but no before you vote! Hint: I am running against one of them…”  See it here.


Barnes Transcripts Bombshell?

I wonder if the focus on the trial in St. Louis isn’t misplaced.  There are some who think that the real threat to Governor Eric Greitens’ political survival is the House Special Investigative Committee – and not even what they “conclude.”  This line of thinking is that the transcripts of the testimony will display such ugly behavior that no conservative will be able to stand near the governor – and every Democrat will have him on their literature in the autumn general election.

While Greitens’ legal team is presumably racking up huge filing motions against St. Louis Prosecutor Kim Gardner, his doom (and/or the Missouri Republican Party’s November fate) may already be sealed with Rep. Jay Barnes’ promise to release transcripts.


Bearden: Circle the Wagons

Former House Rep, and conservative lobbyist Carl Bearden writes that his fellow Republicans should “circle the wagons” around Governor Eric GreitensSee it here.

Pull Quote: Here’s what we know: a reporter at a liberal media outlet (KMOV) appears to be working with the Democrat Party to pursue negative stories about him. Those stories are shocking. They are salacious. And they travel far, because the world loves a good scandal. The Democratic Party hasn’t only encouraged these stories, they’ve gone one step further: they’ve used their own elected officials—St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner—to indict the Governor for a felony. They leave him no choice but to lawyer up, and they spend taxpayer time and resources to pursue a case that has no merits… If you think this is OK, my hope is that if you are ever the target of a grand jury investigation that the prosecutor likes you. Otherwise, you will suffer the same fate as Governor Greitens…. Eric Greitens wasn’t my preferred Republican, but he is now. And those of us who care about the future of the Republican Party in Missouri need to voice our support for him now. We need to speak out against the abuses of Kim Gardner and the Democratic Party in the state of Missouri. We need to circle the wagons and protect our own.


Ford Passes

Former Rep. Louis Ford passed away. From the Facebook of former senator Tim Green: I’m sad to announce my former Colleague, former Rep Louis Ford passed away today. He served in the Missouri Legislature for 22 years. A truly compassionate public servant. He taught me a lot of history and a lot of poker. Louis once said during a friendly Poker game with 3 wild cards, 5 of a Kind beats a Royal Flush!! Rest In Peace my friend.


Help Wanted

Kids Win Missouri seeks Director of Policy and Advocacy.  “The position includes a competitive salary, paid vacation, sick days and health benefits. The annual salary for the position ranges from $60,000-65,000. Kids Win Missouri’s offices are located in St. Louis, however, the new Director of Policy and Advocacy can be located anywhere in Missouri. The Director of Policy and Advocacy reports to the Executive Director.  This is a full-time position that may, depending on where you reside in Missouri, involve extensive overnight travel during the months of January through May. Additionally, the position may require long days and nights during the months of January through May…”  See it here.


New Candidate Filings

Rob O’Brian filed to run in Senate 32 as a Republican.

Dan Marshall filed to run in House 52 as a Democrat.

Sara Michael filed to run in House 60 as a Democrat.

Gregory Upchurch filed to run in House 70 as a Democrat.

Eric Reese filed to run in House 85 as a Democrat.


$5K+ Contributions

Lincoln PAC - $10,000 from Missouri State Council of Fire Fighters PAC.

Friends Of Wesley Bell - $5,690 from Wesley Bell.
Lincoln PAC - $10,000 from Sun Solar.



Happy birthdays to formers Sens. Yvonne Wilson, Will Kraus, and Paul LeVota, David Jackson, Nancy Giddens, Sylvester Brown, and Steve Hunter.