JEFFERSON CITY - If Missouri's cities want to impose local taxes, they can have them as long as local voters approve, the Missouri House said Tuesday.
With a crushing majority, the House passed HB 1442 by a 132-19 vote. The bill, proposed by Rep. Tim Jones, R-St. Louis County, would allow Missouri cities to maintain voter-approved general sales and capital improvement sales tax increases -- called "stacked taxes" -- and impose new ones in the future as long as local voters are on board.
Stacked taxes became an issue when Farmington lawyer and former State Rep. Tom Burcham, R-Farmington, brought lawsuits against Missouri cities for imposing more local taxes than what the current state statute allows. Burcham claimed victory in lawsuits against Missouri cities Iberia and Purdy.
Similar legislation was proposed last year with co-sponsorship from members of both parties, including House Speaker Ron Richard, R-Joplin. The bill was passed in a committee, but was blocked from a vote on the floor by House Majority Leader Steve Tilley, R-Perryville.
This time around, Tilley approved the measure. But another Republican leader in the House, Speaker Pro Tem Bryan Pratt, R-Blue Springs, cast one of the dissenting votes against the bill. He said the bad economy has made it a bad time to raise taxes, and that cities have broken the law by imposing stacked taxes depsite current state statutes.
"Now we're asking the General Assembly to bless their bad behavior," Pratt said.
The sole Democrat to vote against the bill, Rep. Jake Zimmerman, D-St. Louis County, said he opposed lodging taxes added to the bill as amendments. He said if the bill had retained its original language, it would have been "easier to support."
Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, said he supported the bill's original language, and because an amendment he offered to the bill would allow the city of Ashland to impose a lodging tax.
Sen. Kurt Schafer, R-Columbia, proposed a bill last year that would have allowed the city to impose such a tax