At first, it would appear that you have to give Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst, R-St. Louis County, points for honesty.
Scharnhorst actually admitted to the Kansas City Star that he got the idea for HB 1548 from a lobbyist. It is no secret that much legislation starts with lobbyists, but who admits it...especially when all evidence indicates that in this case it is not true?
HB 1548 would exempt sales tax on purchases of “equipment, machinery, materials, supplies, fixtures, and shoes used in the sport of bowling.”
If that sounds familiar to you, that's because it is not some new bill dreamed up by a lobbyist for small business, as Scharnhorst claims. In fact, it is almost word-for-word the same as HB 150 filed by Rep. Ron Richard, the House Speaker-elect, during the 2007 legislative session. The only difference is that it appears Scharnhorst is sponsoring the bill to prevent Richard, the owner and operator of five bowling alleys, from suffering from the same criticism and embarrassment he suffered last year.
The first bill Richard prefiled in December 2006 was the bill to remove sales tax from bowling supplies. How would this bill have affected Richard. I noted that in the Dec. 18, 2006, Turner Report:
1991 to present
Full duties with C & N Bowl Corporation.
Additional duties of Vice President and Secretary of C & N Bowl Corporation, Senior Managing Officer responsible for overall activities over five Bowling Centers in two states. Assumed further duties associated with financial side of operations and planning.
Duties were added of Chief Financial Officer of two Joplin, Missouri, locations, Ft. Smith, Arkansas, and two Little Rock, Arkansas bowling locations.
1985 to 1987
Bowling Center Manager of new facility, Carl Richard Bowl East, Joplin.
1978 to 1987
Assistant Financial Officer of C & N Bowl Corporation.
Joined C & N Bowl Corporation as Assistant League Coordinator and Food and Beverage Supervisor.
1965 to 1971
During high school worked in all areas of Bowling Centers including construction, janitorial, maintenance, sales and service; U.S. Post Office, processed mail and unloaded trucks.
Richard has served in various capacities on the Legislative Committee of the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America, including currently serving on that organization's Legislative Committee (which I would imagine encouraged this type of legislation).
After Richard received negative publicity from that Dec. 18 blog post, he withdrew the bill the next day, but never admitted it was a bad idea. Richard told the Joplin Globe he dropped the bill after he received negative publicity, though that publicity came from only one source, The Turner Report. The Joplin Globe did not mention the bill until three days after it was withdrawn.
Even as he pulled the bill from consideration, Richard gave every indication in a Dec. 20, 2006, interview with Associated Press that the idea was not dead, and would be revived at a later date:
Richard said he decided to wait and see what tax policy changes Gov. Matt Blunt proposes next year and determine if his bowling tax break idea fits in.
But he said he sees no problem with proposing a law exempting bowling alley owners from paying state and local sales taxes on purchases for their business even as he runs a bowling company.
"I guess it indirectly would help me," he said. "I don't care about all that. I'm chair of Economic Development (Committee). Anytime I can help small businesses stay in business, I'm in favor of that. If it turns out to be controversial to keep Mom and Pop doing business, that's OK with me.
Richard never mentioned in that interview that the bill was his only piece of legislation at that time and that the only small business mentioned in the bill was the bowling business.
As it turned out, I made an accurate prediction in the Dec. 22, 2006, Turner Report, even though I was a year off:
If a bill to remove sales tax charges from bowling equipment and supplies reaches the House floor in 2007, it won't have Rep. Ron Richard's name on it.
UPDATE: Apparently, I wasn't a year off, I just didn't pay as much attention as I shouild have during the 2007 session. Scharnhorst resubmitted Richard's bill on March 30, 2007, under his own name.