JEFFERSON CITY - A new battle in the business border war between Missouri and Kansas erupted before the House International Trade Committee on Wednesday.
Rep. T.J. Berry, R-Clay County, presented a bill that would start a compromise for Missouri's economic problems in the Kansas City area.
The legislation would create a "safe zone" within a 30-mile radius of Kansas City along the Missouri-Kansas border. If Kansas passed similar legislation, then the two states would agree on equal economic incentives in the area so that businesses aren't lured from one state to another.
However, if Kansas fails to pass a similar policy, then the legislation would require Missouri to spend $1.50 for every dollar spent by Kansas on economic incentives in the Kansas City area. Rep. John McCaherty, R-High Ridge, said he's concerned about the state facing debt problems if the bill is passed.
"If you carry a big stick, you might have to hit somebody with it," McCaherty said. "If we're gonna do that, then I'd hate to see us in a position where we're forced to spend a dollar and fifty cents, and then we're by law putting ourselves to where we have to go into debt."
Bill Gamble, a lobbyist from Kansas City, said the city lost 2,554 jobs and nearly $4 million in tax revenue in the past decade as a result of tax incentives offered by Kansas. Berry said Kansas doesn't have similar legislation in the works, but he said he wants this to be the starting point for a conversation between the two states.
No action has been taken on the bill.