The end of the 2019 legislative session is fast approaching. With a constitutional deadline of May 17, members of the Missouri General Assembly have less than two weeks to get their legislative priorities across the finish line and to the governor’s desk. While that deadline nears, there are still several important pieces of economic development legislation for the Legislature to consider.
I sponsored Senate Bill 182, which works to end the economic border war with Kansas. This bill prevents certain tax incentives from being offered to businesses that relocate from Kansas border counties to the Kansas City metropolitan area. Without this ban, companies will continue to be able to take advantage of these valuable incentives for simply relocating a matter of miles or, in some cases, blocks. This policy has already cost Missouri $151 million over the past decade without creating any net new jobs. By passing SB 182, I believe we are showing our commitment to real, sustained job growth and economic development. This bill is awaiting a conference committee to work out differences between the bill’s House and Senate versions.
Another bill I am ushering through the legislative process is House Bill 255. This bill, in part, modifies the Missouri Works Program, one of the state’s top tools for incentivizing job expansion and retention by providing qualified businesses access to capital through withholdings or tax credits. House Bill 255 seeks to keep the Missouri Works Program competitive with other states by allowing it to offer more upfront incentives to projects that have a positive economic impact. Other states are already doing this, and I believe these changes will give the Missouri Works Program the flexibility it needs to better help Missouri businesses grow and succeed. House Bill 255 is similar to my Senate Bill 56. Regardless of which bill makes its way to the governor’s desk, I am cautiously optimistic that the idea of keeping our economic development programs competitive will pass the Missouri General Assembly.
Another economic development bill is House Bill 225, which creates the Fast-Track Workforce Incentive Grant program. This scholarship program intends to help eligible adults further their education to ensure they have the qualifications needed to fill the high-in-demand jobs in today’s technology-driven economy. Ultimately, HB 225 will help prepare the next generation of Missouri workers for good paying jobs that are needed now and in the near future. House Bill 225 is on the Senate’s informal calendar for House bills on third reading.
There is another bill that has gotten quite a bit of attention as it has moved through the Legislature this year. House Bill 1062 specifies that a private entity does not have the power of eminent domain for constructing high-voltage, direct current electric lines that do not service this state. This legislation stems from the issues surrounding the Grain Belt Express line which plans to supply wind power from Kansas to Indiana and further east, by going through Missouri and Illinois. House Bill 1062 is seen as a way to protect landowners from having their property taken through the use of eminent domain for this project. I am sympathetic toward the concerns of property owners regarding this issue. I believe there should be a high threshold for the use of eminent domain, and I am not completely convinced the Grain Belt Express project meets that threshold. After being voted out of the Senate’s Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee, HB 1062 now heads to the Senate floor for further debate.
While the end of session is approaching, I am optimistic that we can get most of these bills passed out of the Missouri General Assembly and keep our state moving in the right direction economically.
Please feel free to contact my office in Jefferson City at (573) 751-1464. For information about committees or sponsored legislation for the 2019 session, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at senate.mo.gov/Cierpiot.