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Ford bill moves forward in Missouri legislature

Office of Sen. Purgason
Mo. Sen. Chuck Purgason (R, Caulfield)

By AP/St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson City, Mo. – Missouri lawmakers have sent Gov. Jay Nixon a bill offering tax incentives to Ford Motor Co. and other automakers.

The House's 101-40 vote Wednesday followed a 20-7 vote in the Senate and came only after the Senate had endured a more than 20-hour filibuster against the bill.

The legislation is the central point of a special legislative session called by Nixon.

It would let auto manufacturers keep all or part of the employee withholding taxes they normally would pay Missouri if they improve their factories for new or expanded product lines. It's targeted primarily at Ford's Claycomo plant near Kansas City, which employs about 3,700 people.


A Republican in the Missouri Senate is still trying to kill a tax incentives bill for Ford Motor Company's auto plant near Kansas City.

Chuck Purgason of Caulfield began a filibuster of the bill on the Senate floor yesterday around 12:45 p.m., and has continued throughout the night and into the early morning hours.

Purgason has spent most of the night reading emails from citizens who also oppose the tax breaks.

"I am a student of politics and economics at Washington University in St. Louis," Purgason read during his filibuster. "I appreciate so much your strong stand against the Ford tax incentive bill...with the large budget shortfall faced by the state of Missouri, now is not the time for handouts to firms who cry the loudest or have the most lobbyists in the Capitol."

A few other senators have sided with Purgason, taking over for him a few times when he wanted to take a break. During one of those breaks, Matt Bartle (R, Lee's Summit) talked about his favorite barbecue restaurant.

"L.C.'s is a place where you, in one setting, can take in 6,000 calories and just enjoy yourself immensely...it is (a) mound of beef, fries that are fried to crispy perfection," Bartle said.

Bartle conducted a 17-hour filibuster in 2007 while attempting to block an appointment to the University of Missouri Board of Curators.

The auto incentives bill is one of two measures Governor Jay Nixon wants passed during the special session, which began nearly three weeks ago.

Purgason was removed Monday as chair of the Senate Committee on Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Review for refusing to bring the auto incentives bill up for a vote.

Senate President Pro-tem Charlie Shields (R, St. Joseph) can end Purgason's filibuster by using a procedure called "moving the previous question" to cut off debate. However, it's considered to be very drastic and disruptive to the Senate's working relationship, so much so that most Senate presidents and pro-tems hesitate to use it.

When asked by reporters, Shields wouldn't say if he's planning to use it, but he did promise that the bill would pass.

Purgason is also a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Kit Bond.


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