Missouri courts would not be allowed to raise taxes under a resolution barely passing the House and moving on to the Senate. The critics of HCS HJR 41 say the bill goes a bit further than supports say.
Opponents get their say this time, a least for a while. This is the constitutional amendment Republicans refused to allow Democrats to speak on during the amendment process. It also is the issue that Republicans couldn’t get approved prior to spring break when too many Republicans left the Capitol and the majority didn’t have the votes. This time, upon its return, Democrats line up to criticize it until Republicans finally have enough and, once again, cut off debate and force a vote.
Rep. John Burnett (D-Kansas City) claims Republican legislators are attempting to tilt the balance of power in their favor, "It is a power grab by the legislative branch from the judiciary"
Rep. Ed Emery (R-Lamar) rises to challenge Burnett’s statement during floor debate. Emery tells Burnett he doesn’t understand how he can use the phrase "power grab" when the legislature is following the path of change outlined in the state constitution.
Critics also contend that if the amendment is approved by the legislature, then by the people, it will greatly curtail the power the courts have to address legitimate grievances. They say the amendment will not only keep courts from directly raising taxes, but will prohibit them from ruling that the legislature and executive branch are violating the constitution and must adjust spending to address the problem.
Supporters of the amendment acknowledge no state court has raised taxes. They say, though, that it could happen and an amendment to the constitution will protect taxpayers. Opponents say the state constitution already prohibits courts from raising taxes by giving the power of the purse solely to the legislature.
The amendment won approval on an 82-to-68 vote, the minimum needed for passage. The debate now shifts to the Senate.