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NewsBook:  Missouri Government News for the Week of December 2, 2013

Four days into a special session, the General Assembly has passed legislation designed to lure the aerospace giant Boeing to build a factory in St. Louis.

But before the House could vote on the bill House Majority Leader John Diehl, R-St. Louis County, said Senate staff sent over the bill with a few errors.

The version of the bill sent over by Senate staff contained small errors not relating to the content of the bill. House and Senate staff determined the House committees approved the correct bill, alleviating any legal concerns.

"This happens on a not infrequent basis," Diehl said. "Given the fact this is a special session and we're here for one bill and one bill only the Speaker and I felt it was important this issue be highlighted." 

Procedural hiccup aside the bill passed the House 127-20. The bill now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon

In a statement Friday afternoon, Nixon praised the General Assembly for moving quickly.

"I greatly appreciate the General Assembly's work to send a bill to my desk in a timely manner so that we may submit a proposal to Boeing," Nixon said. "We are in a very strong position to compete."

A House committee voted Thursday to pass a tax-incentive package to attract Boeing to locate a new airplane project in Missouri.

The House Committee on Economic Development made no changes to the bill, which would give almost $1.7 billion in tax breaks if it creates 8,000 over 23 years.

Missouri is one of twelve states courting Boeing to manufacture a new plane here. The project is expected to bring in $2.9 billion dollars, according to the bill sponsor Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-St. Louis County.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon said he is confident Missouri is a contender for the project.

"With the history of Boeing working here, our strong workforce, our ability to put together a bipartisan group here to have a good, solid incentive package that also protects taxpayers wallets, all of those I think put us in a strong place to compete for these jobs," Nixon said.

The House will vote on the bill Friday. Missouri has a deadline of Dec. 10 to present an offer to Boeing.

In recent years, the tradition of 'Black Friday' shopping has turned into Thursday evening shopping, with stores opening earlier each year.

Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart, filed a bill for the 2014 legislative session that would prevent retailers opening on Thanksgiving.

Roorda said Black Friday has encroached on Thanksgiving and he wants to put a stop to it.

"The entire Christmas season is so commercialized and now it's crept into what used to be the most regarded family day on the calendar," Roorda said.

The bill would not allow retailers to open until midnight on Black Friday, but it would not apply to gas stations and pharmacies.

Roorda said he is working on the bill to allow grocery stores and movie theaters to be open as well.

A threatened filibuster against the governor's tax-break plan for Boeing was averted after Gov. Jay Nixon met privately with five of the leading Senate opponents of the proposal designed to win Boeing's approval to build a new aircraft-manufacturing plant in St. Louis.

The private meeting came just a few hours before the final Senate vote.

According to legislators in the meeting, a Senate vote on his plan was assured when Jay Nixon promised to be more involved with legislative efforts to curtail the growth of tax-break credits for real estate developers.

"Without an understanding of how we are going to get a handle around our broken tax-credit system, I was not comfortable allowing this broken process to continue to move forward," said Sen. Brad Lager, R-Maryville.

The significance of the governor's promise to be more involved in the issue was confirmed by another participant in the meeting, Sen. John Lamping, R-St. Louis County.

"I don't know what would have happened otherwise, there was a very strong concern about the idea that we were going to come do this,"

Previously, Nixon has called for controls and cuts in growing loss of state revenue arising from tax-credit programs that provide automatic tax breaks for real estate developers and others interests.

However, Nixon had not personally engaged legislators in working out disputes between the House and Senate on resolving the tax-credit dispute.

Both Lager and Lamping said that Nixon's personal engagement with legislators on the Boeing plan gave them confidence that Nixon would follow suit during the 2014 session to be more involved in seeking a way to control a package of tax credit laws that cost the state more than $500 million per year and continues to grow.

The five members meeting with the governor and  three other Republicans subsequently voted against the tax-break plan that an administration official said ultimately could provide more than $1.5 billion in tax breaks for Boeing if it agreed locate in Missouri the entire manufacturing operations for its new airliner.

While allowing a vote, Lager continued to voice opposition to giving special tax breaks to a single company.

"What about the guy in Bethany Missouri, who's a banker who's still paying a full load, or the farmer down in Bolivar Missouri that's on two pensions from government who still thinks he needs a tax cut," Lager asked during the Senate debate.

The sponsor of the Boeing proposal -- Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-St. Louis County -- argued that the magnitude of the Boeing expansion would be a major boost for the state's economy with an addition of as many as 8,000 new jobs.

"Our proposal that we are moving forward here in the legislature would allow us to compete for all of it, but it's possible that we might just get the wing or, you know. Either way we're talking about a significant number of jobs," Schmitt said.

Schmitt said while it is uncertain if all of the jobs will be new, since the Boeing military plant has been slowing production, it is better than losing jobs and not being able to replace them.

If the bill passes through the House committee unchanged Thursday and the House debate Friday, it will offer up to $150 million in incentives annually to Boeing.

Opponents of the Boeing deal, like Lager, feel that broad-based tax relief is the best long term answer to Missouri's economic woes.

"This type of public policy [the Boeing plan] is not a long term solution for economic prosperity in Missouri," Lager said.

The measure passed through the Senate with a vote of 23-8.

A judge upheld the constitutionality of an initiative petition looking to put campaign contributions limits on the next ballot.

Rex Sinquefield filed a lawsuit in August to prevent the amendment getting on next year's ballot, saying it contained misleading language and would infringe on free speech rights.

Sinquefield is known for his political contributions, having donated millions to candidates and campaigns in recent years. Sinquefield and his attorney's reasoning was that political contributions are a way to express oneself, and limiting this would violate the freedom of speech.

If the petition receives enough signatures, Missourians would vote whether to approve a measure limiting the ways people can donate money to political campaigns.

Missouri Roundtable For Life was driving force for the initiative petition. In a statement today, the group wrote that the petition "does not limit how much a candidate can raise or spend or limit what political action committees can spend on a race. It simply limits the amount of money a candidate or political party can receive from any one individual or PAC. What could possibly be wrong with increasing the influence voters have over their candidates?"

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-St. Louis County, has proposed a bill that would require parents of children in public schools to notify their school district of how many guns the family owns.

The plan also makes it a crime for the negligent storage of a gun.

If a child gets a firearm and unlawfully carries it to school or commits a crime, a owner would be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.

In the case of a death or injury from the gun, the owner would face a Class D felony.

"We want to make sure we have safe environments and that our students and their families are also safe," Chappelle-Nadal said.

Rep. Doug Funderburk, R-St. Peters, doesn't support the current language of the bill. He said it infringes on an individual's right to own firearms.

The General Assembly convenes for session again on Jan. 9, 2014.

Missouri lawmakers are looking to extend food stamp eligibility to some people with drug possession felonies.

If a person is participating in a substance abuse program, Rep. Bonnaye Mims, D-Kansas City, said they should get a chance to participate in the federal aid program.

"No I’m not saying that drugs is a good thing, but they have served their time," Mims said. "They served their punishment for whatever it is that happened. They deserve a chance. They deserve to have a second chance at life."

Mims said she introduced the bill last year, where it failed in the Senate. She said this year's bill language is not different than last year's.

"I would rather make them a viable citizen than a liability case," Mims said.

Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart, pre-filed a measure for the 2014 legislative session that would make drug dealers guilty of first degree involuntary manslaughter if the user dies.

Roorda introduced a similar bill in the 2008 legislative session, but it never made it out of the Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee.

Roorda said the issues with illegal substance abuse has evolved since he first introduced the bill, He said he was moved by an article written by the mother of 24-year-old Leslie Cathey from Festus, Mo., who died from a heroine overdose in October.

“Now it’s not heroine junkies in their forties or fifties overdosing,” Roorda said. “It’s kids trying it for their first time in their late teens, early twenties.”

This section of the bill will be titled “Leslie’s Law,” and is the only change made to the measure from 2008. 

“The epidemic we have with heroine overdoses in the St. Louis region is something that we don’t talk about, or think about it often enough in the legislature,” Roorda said. “It does help to put a face on a tragedy like this.”

Wednesday Missouri senators began debating an incentive package for Boeing to build a commercial airplane in St. Louis.

The legislation would give Boeing up to $150 million in tax breaks if the company creates at least 2,000 new jobs within ten years.

The Senate began floor debate Wednesday morning during a special legislative session that began Monday afternoon, per Gov. Jay Nixon's orders.

Bill sponsor Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-St. Louis County, is in support of courting Boeing, citing job creation.

"If you include the impact from all the suppliers, and all the construction jobs, the estimate is $7 billion a year, $7 billion a year of economic impact," Schmitt said.

However, some other senators want more information.

Sen. Maria Chapelle-Nadal, D-St. Louis County, said she is worried about the number of minorities Boeing would hire. The Senate later adopted an amendment which would require Boeing to release a report on the number of minorities the project hires.

Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, said he questioned if workers who had been moved to the new factory from other Boeing plants in the state would still be considered "new jobs."

Missouri is in the running to manufacture the Boeing 777X airplane. The state has until Dec. 10 to submit a proposal to the company.

The Missouri legislature opened it's special session on tax breaks for the Boeing aircraft company spending more time in closed-door discussions than in formal legislative sessions.

Both the House and Senate met only briefly to introduce Gov. Jay Nixon's proposal that would provide tax breaks of up to $150 million per year to any aerospace company creates at least 2,000 new jobs within ten years.

But behind the scenes were extended discussions about the details and whether the governor should expand the call to include other tax issues.

Prior to the formal sessions, House Republicans and Senate Republicans held closed-door caucus sessions to hear from the governor.

The Senate caucus lasted so long that it delayed the scheduled start of the Senate by more than one hour.

Senate sources said Nixon was urged to expand the call of the session to include reducing tax credits awarded to other businesses and projects.

In a special session, the legislature can consider only the issues the governor cited in his official call.

Staff for the governor continued discussions with legislative leaders on the issue after the Senate adjourned.No agreement was reached, sources said.

In a session with reporters as he was leaving the Senate caucus meeting, Nixon did not completely rule out the possibility of expanding his call for the special session, but stressed the need for swift action to meet the Dec. 10 deadline Boeing has given Missouri for submitting a proposal.

"I think under the time frame we are under here between now and December 10th and the short time in front of this...that's why I made the narrow call."

Nixon said the Dec. 10 deadline for a proposal from the state was set by Boeing in its request for a proposal which he said he was not at liberty to release.

Nixon's decision to restrict lawmakers to the Boeing tax-break issue won support from the House speaker after the House GOP caucus.

"We have a total of eight calendar days in which to accomplish the task at hand," said Rep. Tim Jones, R-St. Louis County. "The call is extremely and narrowly written. It is our intent to remain within the call."

In 2011, Nixon suffered defeat of his "China Hub" plan when he coupled reducing special-interest tax credits with a package of other tax breaks for businesses to develop an international air-cargo facility in St. Louis.

Members of the Missouri legislature were back in the Capitol Monday for the special session called by Gov. Jay Nixon.

Lawmakers met to discuss the beginning stages of a proposed $150 million tax incentive plan for the aerospace manufacturing company.

Nixon met behind closed doors with both House and Senate Republicans to push his plan through by the Dec. 10 deadline.

Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-St. Louis County, says he left the governor's meeting more optimistic about the Boeing opportunity.

"This a real opportunity. I certainly didn't want Missouri to be used as a pawn in this. When we've had an unemployment rate like we've had for such a long time, and for us to get high quality manufacturing jobs, I think that is something we all should aspire to land," Schmitt said.

Lawmakers will reconvene on Tuesday.

Nixon with reporters after meeting with the Senate GOP Caucus

Gov. Jay Nixon called a special session last Friday to discuss his proposal to consider tax breaks as an incentive for Boeing Aircraft to open its new manufacturing plant in Missouri.

The legislative session began Monday to set the proposal incentives to bring the construction of Boeing's 777X aircraft to Missouri.

Nixon met with Republican lawmakers in closed-door meetings Monday morning to discuss his proposal to give Boeing $150 million worth of tax cuts yearly.

Missouri is one of many competing to have the aerospace jobs brought to its state.

“Building this next-generation commercial aircraft in Missouri would create thousands of jobs across our state and secure our position as a hub for advanced aerospace manufacturing," Nixon said in a press release. "That's why I am committed to competing for and winning this project."

The House met at 4 pm but adjourned in minutes. They will meet again Tuesday morning to further discuss the proposal.

The legislature has until Dec. 10 to set the proposal. 


After a closed meeting with the House Republicans, Gov. Jay Nixon refused to answer questions regarding an incentive with Boeing Co. that could cost Missouri $150 million annually.

Nixon called lawmakers into session to make a deal that would authorize him to offer tax breaks for the aircraft manufacturer to position a plant in St. Louis.

The governor declined any interview on the meeting, only commenting it was "very productive."

The House committee hearing on the Boeing incentives bill is Tuesday Dec. 3.

UPDATE: After a meeting with the Senate Republican cacaos, Nixon did speak with reporters.

Pic. from Rep. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield

Just hours before the 2013 Special Session began, Gov. Jay Nixon met with the House Republican caucus behind closed doors at the Missouri Farm Bureau building in Jefferson City.

Since it was a caucus meeting, members of the press and public were not allowed inside.

Nixon called the session on Friday, calling on lawmakers to authorize $150 million in tax breaks to Boeing in an effort to attract the manufacturer to locate a new plant in Missouri.

Missouri is part of a multi-state competition trying to land the plant where the company plans to produce the 777X aircraft.

The session convenes at 4 p.m. on Monday and faces a Dec. 10 deadline set by Boeing for proposals.

Last Week

Gov. Jay Nixon called Missouri lawmakers into session to authorize him to offer tax breaks to Boeing as part of a multi-state competition to attract the aircraft manufacturer to locate a new plant in Missouri.

The legislative session will begin at 4pm on Monday, Dec. 2, and will face a Dec. 10 deadline set by Boeing for proposals, according to the governor's statement.

Nixon's call, issued noon Friday, Nov. 29, followed a session two days with St. Louis business leaders where he discussed the company's solicitation of proposals from states on where to locate the new plant to produce the 777X aircraft.

A statement issued Friday by Nixon's office said the governor was seeking authority to award up to $150 million per year for large-scale aerospace projects under existing programs that provide tax breaks to businesses.

Nixon's formal proclamation, however, did not indicate a cap on the amount of tax breaks to be authorized.

In his announcement, Nixon stressed the need for swift action because of Boeing's deadline and the other states competing for the project.

"In order to put forward a competitive proposal on this very aggressive timeline, decisive legislative action is required," Nixon was quoted as saying in his office's release.

Friday, Dec. 6 would be the soonest anything could be passed by the legislature. The state constitutional provisions for the legislative process require a minimum of five days to pass a bill.

This will be the second time in recent years that lawmakers have been asked to provide tax breaks to attract an aircraft manufacturing plan.

In 2008, the legislature passed a tax-break package for Bombardier. But the Canadian-based company chose to locate its new plant in Canada. At the time, legislative critics charged Missouri was just being used to give Bombardier leverage to get a better deal from Canada.

Boeing originally had planned on locating its new plant in in Washington state. But the company began looking at other states after a union in Washington rejected the company's proposed contract for some of the workers at the new plant.