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Missouri House committee to vote on taxation bills in opposite ends of state

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(The Center Square) – The Missouri House Committee on Local Government is scheduled to vote on four bills on Tuesday, with two dealing with local taxation.

House Bill 2348, sponsored by Rep. Barry Hovis, R-Whitewater, would alter language in state law allowing counties to jointly impose a sales tax or to do so separately. During a hearing on the bill in February, Hovis testified the law was passed to allow adjoining counties to jointly ask voters to pass a sales tax for public recreational purposes. The revenue would pay for financing the construction, operation and maintenance of recreational projects or programs.

Hovis said the law was enacted years ago as the southeast Missouri counties of Cape Girardeau and Bollinger were beginning to plan a joint recreational lake project. However, representatives from both counties wanted the state law updated in case the counties wanted to jointly pass a sales tax.

“They wanted to have these on the books so if there was an agreement between the two counties, they could move forward,” Hovis said. “There was a minor change … so that both counties in conjunction and or each county individually could do that depending on whether the lake project might end up at in the county. So this bill renews the language with the modification that it could be both or either.”

Arnie Dienoff, who describes himself as a state public advocate, testified in favor of the bill, drawing feinted disbelief from committee members from both parties as he usually opposes bills increasing taxes, regulations and the size of government.

“I’d like to see an amendment that this bill for joint recreational districts applies to all 114 counties across our state,” Dienoff testified. “And I’d like to see an amendment that any county doesn’t have to pass a sales tax. They can join on their own accord by supporting initiatives and services from either the general fund of the county or an online purchase through a user tax for purchases online of more than $2,000 that most of you are probably aware of, known as the ‘Wayfair Tax.’”

The committee also will vote on House Bill 1564, sponsored by Rep. Ann Kelley, R-Lamar. The bill would allow voters in Lamar Heights, a town of 169 people in southwest Missouri, to decide on imposing a transient guest tax of up to 6% and a sales tax of up to 2% on retail sales of all food establishments. The revenue would fund construction, maintenance and operation of capital improvements. It also would allow the tax revenue to be used for emergency services and public safety.

The committee also will vote on House Bill 2756, a revision of the Property Assessment Clean Energy Act to exclude residential property, and House Bill 2571, which changes regulations on the filing of financial statements and penalties for political subdivisions with gross revenues of less than $5,000.

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