Video streaming services, like Hulu and Netflix, do not want to be taxed like cable companies for using public infrastructure in Missouri.

They are not currently charged the tax but that could change depending on the outcome of a lawsuit.

In 2018, St. Louis County filed a lawsuit to try and make streaming companies pay these fees. If the court sides with St. Louis County, State Sen. Curtis Trent said his bill would be a preventative measure.

The state Senate could soon debate Senate Bill 152. The legislation would ban Missouri cities and counties from charging video streaming companies for this tax.

“If you’re a cable company, you’re digging up the street or the sidewalk to lay cable. The fee is there to restore that public infrastructure to the way it was before you laid your infrastructure,” he said. “A streaming service uses the infrastructure that is already there, so the cost of laying that infrastructure is already baked in.”

If the companies are required to pay the tax, he said users would ultimately pay the price.

“The end user pays all this,” he said. “So right now, the users are paying 5% for their cable line. Without this bill, there’s a possibility that if these court cases go through, you could pay nearly 5% for the cable in the ground, then you’d pay another 5% for Hulu, another 5% for Netflix, another 5% for Amazon, another 5% for Disney and just keep going down the line.”

A handful of cities have spoken in opposition to Trent’s bill, along with the Missouri Municipal League, who say lawmakers should wait until the lawsuit is decided.

Similar bills have been filed by other lawmakers this session.

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