At this point in the legislative process, much of our work is accomplished in Senate committees. Bills are introduced on the floor and then assigned to a Senate committee that deals with bills relating to that particular area. This week, several high-profile measures to encourage job growth and fight fraud in elections were heard in Senate committees.
This year, one of our main focuses is passing legislation that will encourage job growth in our state. I am pleased to be directly involved in this process through my role as vice chair of the Senate Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government. This week, we heard testimony on two bills designed to make Missouri more competitive to businesses and to encourage businesses already in our state to reinvest in expansion.
Senate Bill 18 would cap the amount of corporate franchise tax a company pays at $2 million. Franchise tax is a tax that corporations pay in advance for doing business within the state. Currently, the largest franchise tax payer in the state pays approximately $1.9 million in franchise taxes. The legislation would allow corporations that reach the cap to continue to invest in Missouri without being penalized and would encourage investment by large corporations in Missouri.
Senate Bill 19 takes this effort a step further by gradually phasing out the corporate franchise tax completely. This bill would make Missouri more competitive with other states, like Kansas, which has been phasing out its franchise tax since 2007. With corporations already paying tax on income earned, in addition to paying sales tax and property tax, we are essentially double taxing corporations by charging them franchise tax.
Another bill heard in committee this week deals with voter ID, a measure that would require voters to show a photo ID in order to cast their ballot. The measure is designed to weed out voter fraud and make sure our system of elections is fair and free of abuse. The Legislature passed voter ID legislation in 2006, but it was overturned by the courts. A recent case upholding a similar law in Indiana has renewed our efforts in Missouri. In the Senate, we are working to pass a constitutional amendment (Senate Joint Resolution 9) that would require a photo ID to vote, as well as a Senate Bill 3, which lays out more specifics on the measure. The bill includes provisions exempting citizens who are unable to obtain photo identification because of a physical or mental disability, unable to pay for a document necessary to obtain identification, have a religious belief against forms of identification, or were born before Jan. 1, 1941.
The bills heard this week now need to be approved by their respective committees before they can be debated on the floor. As the session moves forward, we will be spending more time on the floor, discussing these measures as a full Senate. I will keep you informed on what is going on here in Jefferson City as legislation moves forward.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Richard provides lowdown on bills before Senate
In his weekly report, Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, reviews legislation pending before the Senate: