Mo. House / Special Session
Fri September 9, 2011
Local control, other measures, get first-round Mo. House approval during special session
The Missouri House of Representatives today gave both first-round approval AND passage to several pieces of notable legislation, after suspending its rules to allow for both to take place in the same day:
- Local control of the St. Louis Police Department endorsed
The Missouri House has passed legislation that would end the state's oversight of the St. Louis police department.
The controversial issue has been debated for years. A state board appointed by the governor that oversees the department has been in place since 1861.
The legislation given the House OK today would allow local officials to control the city's police department starting next July. The bill must still be approved by the Missouri Senate, where it died earlier this year. The sponsor, State Rep. Jamilah Nasheed (D, St. Louis), called it a long, hard-fought battle.
“The evil deeds of the past will die in this chamber, and we will commit a deed on behalf of the citizens of St. Louis," Nasheed said from the House floor. "We will commit a good deed in this chamber, and that is to restore home rule.”
- Business property tax measure passed (updated 3:12 p.m. with passage & vote)
The Missouri House has passed a property tax break for businesses destroyed by natural disasters.
Friday's 149-0 vote sends the measure to the state Senate. The legislation allows disaster-damaged buildings on commercial property to be removed from property tax rolls until the structures can be used again.
Local governments would need to decide to offer the tax break.
Lawmakers on Friday also broadened the legislation to help communities rebuild from natural disasters. Proponents said the measure would allow some state tax revenue collected in designated redevelopment areas to be used for recovery.
Missouri has faced several disasters this year, including tornadoes in Joplin, Sedalia and the St. Louis area and flooding along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.
- Mo. House OKs pushing back presidential primary
Missouri voters would wait until March to cast ballots in the presidential primary under a measure passed by the state House.
The legislation approved Friday by the House would push Missouri's presidential primary from February to March. The change is needed to comply with rules set by the national Republican and Democratic parties.
The measure also increases the filing fee for presidential candidates. Currently, the candidates pay a $1,000 fee to their respective political parties. The measure increases that to $5,000 for next year's election and to $10,000 after that.
- Missouri House approves tax amnesty period (updated 3:12 p.m. with passage & vote)
The Missouri House has approved a tax amnesty period for delinquent taxpayers.
The state would waive interest and penalties for those who pay their tax bills between Jan. 1 and Feb. 29. Under the amnesty approved by House members on Friday, delinquent taxpayers would need to pay off their balance and agree to comply with state tax laws for the next eight years.
Missouri twice has offered tax amnesties within the past decade. The amnesty brought in $74 million during the 2002 fiscal year and $42 million a year later.
Friday's vote of 150-0 sends the measure to the state Senate.
- Mo. lawmakers vote to tap reserves for disasters
The Missouri House has voted to use $150 million from the state's rainy day fund for disaster relief. But the vote may be mostly symbolic.
Under the Missouri Constitution, the governor sets the agenda for special sessions. And Gov. Jay Nixon did not include the rainy day fund on his agenda.
House Budget Committee Chairman Ryan Silvey (R, Kansas City) said it makes sense to use the rainy day fund for disaster relief and urged Nixon to add it to the special session. Otherwise, Silvey says that tapping the reserve fund would be unconstitutional.
“I think it make sense to use the dedicated disaster funds to pay for disasters, not withhold in the areas of education, higher education, domestic violence and public safety," Silvey said.
Nixon has pledged $150 million for disaster response and made budget cuts to help cover the expense. His office says it is premature to consider using the reserve fund.
End of session
Local Control / Special Session
Special Session Announced