The Missouri House has passed legislation to renew several so-called “benevolent” tax credits — and it includes a tax break for centers that seek to discourage women from having an abortion.
The incentives for pregnancy resource centers is set to expire at the end of 2019. The bill would extend the program for another six years and expand the size of the tax credit from $2.5 million to $3.5 million a year.
The sponsor, Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, said the centers also serve young men as well as women.
“These men, or boys, need to learn that they are not just sperm donors — they should be fathers,” he said. “They have to be taught how to be fathers; they have to be taught how to diaper a baby, how to take care of the baby because no one taught them.”
Democrats, including Stacey Newman of Richmond Heights, argued that particular tax break shouldn’t have been included in the bill.
“The majority of these (centers) that are religious-based are not required to have any type of medical staff on board,” she said. “They’re preying on poor pregnant women who can’t afford a doctor, [who] don’t know which doctor to go to. Would you or your daughter go to a pregnancy resource center knowing that they do not have medical staff?”
Republicans argued that pregnancy resource centers only provide pregnant women with information on options that don’t include abortion.
“These centers do not put themselves out as medical facilities at all,” said Rep. Diane Franklin, R-Camdenton. “They put themselves out as a place of hope, as a place of comfort, as a place to provide direction.”
The bill would also extend the tax credit for maternity homes — which provide housing for pregnant minors — an additional six years, and raise the annual cap from $2.5 million to $3.5 million.
In addition, the bill would extend the sunset dates on the following tax credit programs:
- Champions for Children, for agencies that work with abused and neglected children, to Dec. 31, 2025
- Surviving Spouses of Public Safety Officers, to Dec. 31, 2026
- Residential Renovations for Disability, to Dec. 31, 2026, and doubles the annual cap to $200,000
- Donated Food, i.e., food pantries, to Dec. 31, 2026, and expands the tax credit to include donations to homeless shelters and soup kitchens
The bill now goes to the Missouri Senate, where a similar bill also received initial approval Tuesday. It does not extend the expiration date on food-pantry tax credits, but it creates a new tax break designed to fill “unmet health, hunger, and hygiene needs” of school children.
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