April 17, 2014

House early voting proposal advances to Senate on bipartisan vote

A proposed constitutional amendment to set an early voting period has passed the House with bipartisan support, despite some Democrats decrying the measure as a “sham” and misleading to voters.

Representative Tony Dugger (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Tony Dugger (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

It would allow nine days of early voting excluding Sundays ending the week before federal and state elections beginning with the 2016 General Election.

Representative Stacey Newman (D-St. Louis) asks if the bill is only meant to be a counter proposal by Republicans to an initiative petition that if passed would allow early voting for six weeks and require accommodation of voters on Saturday and Sunday for three weeks before federal or state elections.

“The question that pops in my mind is why is the most popular day of voting across the country … a Sunday, why is that purposely excluded in this amendment?” Newman asks. “The very day that men and women of every stripe, of every profession, the day that most working voters have off.”

“I’m telling you beware,” Newman says, “this is political attempt once again to convince us that the majority party here actually cares about increasing access to voters.”

Of the claim that his legislation is a “sham,” Representative Tony Dugger (R-Hartville) says, “I don’t think so. I mean, it’s clear what I’m doing.”

Dugger says Sundays during the early voting window were exempted to preserve it as a day off for those who would have to work if early voting continued on that day.

“Sunday is basically a day for families to get together. A lot of people attend church on Sunday, get together for lunch,” Dugger tells Missourinet. “We would literally be forcing thousands of people to go to work on Sunday because you’re going to have to have the Secretary of State’s Office open, you’re going to have to have every election authority’s office open in the state plus every [early voting] center.”

The proposed amendment was passed 126-24. It moves on ot to the Senate.

NIxon veto of tax cut anticipated (AUDIO, VIDEO)

Governor Nixon leaves no doubt that he’ll veto the latest tax cut bill approved by the legislature. “This year’s reckless fiscal experiment looks a lot like last year’s reckless fiscal experiment,” he says.

Nixon says the tax cut will take more than 600-dollars out of the state bank account every year…and take the state in the wrong direction.


Majority Republicans say the tax cuts and increases will trigger economic development. 

The bill cuts the individual income tax by a half percent through a period of years, one-half of one percent anytime state income increases by at least $150-million above the previous year’s income.

The bill also allows individual income tax deductions for some businesses.

The legislature will have a chance to override his veto before the end of the session.  The House failed to override last year’s veto.

Nixon says the newest Republican tax cut bill is “irresponsible” and based on “discredited economics.”   He has not said he’ll veto it.  But his criticism  leaves little doubt he will.  He’s required to act soon enough that the legislature will have time to override.  The legislature failed to override Nixon’s veto of last year’s tax cut bill.

AUDIO: Nixon news conference 20:47

Legislature sends $620-million tax cut proposal to Governor

The legislature has sent Governor Jay Nixon (D) a proposed $620-million a year cut to income taxes, and Republicans are considering whether enough votes to override a veto are in reach.

House Speaker Tim Jones signs SB 509, the proposed $620-million a year tax cut proposal.  (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

House Speaker Tim Jones signs SB 509, the proposed $620-million a year tax cut proposal. (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Nixon has 15 days to act on the bill (SB 509). He could sign it, allow it to become law with no action, or he could veto it as many Republicans anticipate he will. 

Nixon called an evening media conference shortly after the House vote and didn’t say he would veto the bill, but hinted at it.

“On its face,” Nixon told reporters, “this year’s reckless fiscal experiment looks an awful lot like last year’s reckless fiscal experiment.”

Nixon vetoed a tax cut proposal last year and 15 House Republicans voted with Democrats to sustain that veto.

104 lawmakers voted for the tax cut proposal Wednesday, with one Democrat siding with Republicans. 109 votes would be needed to overturn a veto and 7 lawmakers were not present for the vote.

Backers say the legislation would let Missourians keep more of their paychecks and that would lead to a stronger economy. Nixon and opponents say the reduction in state revenue threatens state programs and services, particularly education.

The timing of the passage means that if Nixon vetoes it, lawmakers could have a chance to attempt a veto override before the end of the session.

‘Flimsy’ Republicans join caucus leadership ahead of debate of income tax cut (VIDEO)

11 of the so-called “flimsy 15″ stood with House Republican Leaders in an apparent show of caucus solidarity ahead of debate, and likely a vote on, Senate tax cut legislation this afternoon. 

The House has taken up Senator Will Kraus’ (R-Lee’s Summit) legislation, SB 509, for possible passage to Governor Jay Nixon (D).  It would cut income taxes by one-half percent over several years beginning in 2017. The “flimsy 15″ was what a pro-business lobbying group called 15 Republicans who voted with Democrats last year to veto a proposed income tax cut.

 

One of the most vocal opponents of last year’s bill was Representative Nate Walker (R-Kirksville), who called that legislation “flawed” and said he had to do what was right for his constituents. Walker says he was not coerced to stand with his caucus’ leadership today.

“It was my choice to be there and I support [Kraus'] bill,” Walker tells Missourinet.

He says the lawmakers among that 15, 14 of which are still in the House, met after the veto session and talked to House Republican leadership about their concerns.

“I think this is a good step and I think we need to try this,” Walker says, “and I think the economy will benefit from it.”

“I know why they called us,” says Representative Mike Thomson (R-Maryville), another of the 15. “But we’re a part of the caucus. We always vote our district and our feelings.”

Thomson asks why similar attention hasn’t been paid to Republicans who voted against Right to Work last week in the House. “I don’t know why we were singled out on this to be quite honest.”

Senators say mixed messaging in transportation sales tax, income tax cut proposals

An opponent of asking voters to support transportation with a one-cent sales tax for ten years says it’s “illogical” coming from lawmakers who also want to cut taxes.

Senator John Lamping

Senator John Lamping

Legislative budget estimates are that the proposed ten-year tax would generate about $720-million annually. Senator John Lamping (R-St. Louis) noted in a Senate Transportation Committee hearing Wednesday that members of the Republican majority in both chambers are pursuing major tax cuts.

“The $600-million to $900-million that we have agreed to remove from General Revenue … that’s the funding source. That could serve as potential funding source for roads,” Lamping tells the House sponsor of the proposal, Representative Dave Hinson (R-St. Clair). Lamping says that contradicts the argument that the state doesn’t have the money to fund roads.

Hinson argues that a legislature can’t be counted on to fund transportation out of General Revenue.

“Ask the school districts and the veterans how that’s working out for them, the promises that the General Assembly has made in the past,” Hinson tells Lamping. “We’re not fully funding veterans programs, we’re not fully funding the school foundation formula.”

Lamping argues that his proposal to permanently redirect a half-percent of sales or use taxes to the state’s road fund is a way to ensure that transportation remains funded, even out of General Revenue. Opponents of his proposal say funding transportation from General Revenue risks inserting politics into transportation decisions.

Senator Jason Holsman

Senator Jason Holsman

Senator Jason Holsman (D-Kansas City) says he supports the transportation tax because of the projected funding shortfall for MODOT, but he also questions asking for that tax increase while Republican lawmakers push for a tax cut.

“My concern … is the perception and the messaging that we’re sending to the people,” says Holsman. “From a social science standpoint is it wise to reduce your revenues and then ask your voters to increase the burden on them?” he asks Hinson.

“Some people would probably agree with you that it’s probably not the wisest thing to do,” Hinson answers.

Lamping also questions whether $720-million would be enough to provide for maintaining Missouri’s current infrastructure and new projects. He notes projections that the Transportation Department’s budget could be as low as $350-million by 2017, and that maintaining roads cost about $700-million.

“Are they going to not repair the roads while they’re building these projects?” asks Lamping.

Hinson says he doesn’t know if the projects that would be seen would be considered new, rather than repair and maintenance. He points to projects such as those to widen shoulders and add rumble strips to lettered routes.

Hinson’s proposal cleared the House last week 96-53.