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8/15/11 Capitol ReportPosted Monday, August 15, 2011, at 12:47 PM
At the beginning of this past session, the House committed itself to improving the business climate and creating jobs here in Missouri. And we passed several bills that moved the state forward on this front. Two bills key to attaining our goals on these issues were signed by the governor before the July 15th deadline.
One bill that will help businesses create jobs, HB 45, was signed by the governor on July 8th. HB 45 extends the provision prohibiting new taxes and fees on Missouri small businesses for five years. The bill also expands the definition of a small business from one with 25 employees to one with 50 employees.
This means that more businesses will be able to take advantage of the tax deduction for hiring new workers that was included in the bill. And that tax deduction will be doubled if the business pays at least 50% of the new employee's healthcare benefits.
Finally, HB 45 requires that any new federal rules, regulations or fees be approved by the General Assembly before implementation. This will help us fight unfunded, federal mandates for years to come.
Another bill that improves the business climate, SB 19, was signed by the governor on April 26th. SB 19 eliminates one form of double taxation on businesses in the state. Many businesses here currently pay taxes on their income and their assets.
This additional tax on corporations is called the franchise tax. Unlike most states, Missouri had a corporate income tax and a corporate franchise tax. As a result, our previous tax structure scared corporations and smaller franchises away from creating jobs here.
SB 19 phases out the franchise tax over a period of five years. Eliminating double taxations makes Missouri more attractive to businesses looking for opportunities to expand. It is estimated that the elimination of this tax will save businesses over $16.5 million dollars next year and $85 million by the time that the franchise tax is fully phased out. That money will help create abundant jobs.
Another focus we had in the House this past session was protecting your tax dollars from being spent frivolously. Since the state was facing budget cuts, our commitment to protecting your tax dollars became even more important. And it is a duty that I take very seriously.
Ensuring your tax dollars are spent wisely was the point of HB 73. HB 73 protects your tax dollars by reforming the way Missouri pays out welfare benefits to children and families in need.
There are currently around 60,000 children each month who receive benefits through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. While ensuring the care of our children is a worthy goal, too often the parents or guardians of these children are spending the money on other things.
HB 73 guarantees that these vulnerable kids receive care by requiring the parents or guardians to take a drug test before they receive benefits. If they test positive for drugs, they forfeit their part of the benefits for three years and must enroll in a substance abuse program. If they remain drug-free for six months, their benefits will be reinstated.
However, the children will continue to receive benefits as protective payments through a vendor or third-party payer. I want to be clear. We are not taking benefits away from the children, but we are taking benefits away from those who are using the money to support illicit activity.
Most employers require a drug test before hiring an individual. I think we should make sure that TANF recipients are drug free before they seek employment. This will help reduce our welfare rolls and help all of our citizens become productive members of society.
I am glad that the governor signed this bill. It is simple. I don't believe the taxpayers of Missouri should reward criminal behavior. What we should do is prepare TANF recipients for re-entry into the workforce.
As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Missouri House. If you would like to discuss any issue, please call 573-751-3629. You can also email me at Kent.Hampton@house.mo.gov. I look forward to hearing from you.