by Rep. Greg Sharper
It’s been a busy week here at the Capitol! We’re working long days and nights fighting for what’s right for the people of Missouri. Lots of good legislation was passed this week including my first piece of sponsored legislation. Read all about it below:
House Members Continue to Stand in Defense of
The House has given preliminary approval to legislation that would give Missourians a break on late payment of taxes. The bill comes in response to issues within the Department of Revenue that have resulted in many Missourians owing more income tax or getting smaller tax refunds this year.
For months a special House oversight committee has investigated issues within the department. The House Special Committee on Government Oversight found not only that the department had an error in its withholding tables, but also that the department had failed to alert Missourians about how the tax code was changed and what it could mean for them.
The bill would block late payment penalties on tax debt owed to the state by individual taxpayers through the end of this year. It would also waive any interest owed on such debt until May 15. For those who might pay penalties before the bill would become law, it would require that those Missourians receive refunds.
Supporters of the bill said it’s important to note that while some Missourians could see greater tax bills this year, changes in the federal tax code mean their overall debt is down.
“Missourians are keeping more money in their pockets, so we’ve got to fix this withholding thing but at the end of the day Missourians, as they should, are keeping more of their hard-earned money. That’s what I think people need to realize,” said one supporter of the legislation.
The legislation now requires a final vote in the House before moving to the Senate. The Speaker of the House has said the House Special Committee on Government Oversight will continue to investigate what caused the withholding problems and how the department responded.
My First Piece of Legislation Passes the House! (HB 831)
This week my first piece of legislation that I had sponsored passed through the House of Representatives. While a relatively simple bill by many standards, this bill was nonetheless important to the working men and women who keep the lights on in all sorts of weather.
My bill authorizes a special license plate with the official lineman emblem of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. The license plate requires an annual $25 contribution for emblem use to the association which shall be used for lineman training programs and administrative costs. The revenue from the plates would help support training programs for linemen who work all hours of the day to provide reliable electric service.
With the pressures of passing my first piece of legislation off my back I hope to begin to pass more substantive legislation that supports the people of Northeast Missouri.
Other Bills Sent to the Senate this week:
HB 559 specifies that no law, ordinance, or rule may be enacted by any village, town, city or county to terminate, ban, or effectively ban, by creating an undue financial hardship, the job of working animals or animal enterprise in commerce. Supporters say that working animals are inspected and regulated to ensure proper care for the health and welfare of both the animal and the people the animal serves. It is improper for a political subdivision to regulate an industry out of business, which is what is happening. This bill would allow reasonable regulations without terminating legitimate business.
HB 1061 authorizes a tax exemption for certain transactions with a port authority. Supporters say all of Missouri’s 15 ports will financially benefit from the bill because the sales and leases of both real and personal property by or to any port authority involving the issuance of bonds will be exempt from taxation.
HB 723 modifies provisions relating to public employee retirement benefits. Supporters say the bill will allow divorced retired school teachers who elected a joint and survivor option at retirement to remove the ex-spouse from the retirement benefit so that the benefit will pop-up to a normal annuity as long as both parties agree.
HB 160 authorizes the Public Service Commission, during a general rate proceeding, to set a separate, lower fixed charge or customer charge for low-income customers of water corporations and sewer corporations. Supporters say that there are currently programs in place to help low-income customers with gas and electric utilities, but there is not a program to help water or sewer customers.
HB 287 defines “electric vehicle charging station” and exempts from the definition of “electrical corporation” municipally owned electric utilities, rural electric cooperatives, and any person or corporation that is not engaged in the sale of electricity at wholesale or retail, that owns, operates, or manages equipment that supplies electricity exclusively for the service of charging an electric vehicle as that term relates to the Public Service Commission. The bill also specifies that when municipally owned electric utilities or rural electric cooperatives are providing electric service to structures outside their service boundaries, an electric vehicle charging station reasonably close to the structure is considered a contiguous or adjacent addition. Supporters say the bill reduces uncertainty for those who own and operate electric vehicle charging stations by specifically exempting them from regulation by the Public Service Commission.