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Missouri special session starts with a wide range of proposals

This Missouri State Capitol on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, in Jefferson City, Missouri.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri lawmakers returned to the Capitol, photographed in December 2021, in Jefferson City to begin both the annual veto session and a special session dedicated to tax cuts and credits.

Lawmakers gathered in Jefferson City on Wednesday for both the beginning of the annual veto session and a special session that is supposed to be centered around tax cuts and credits.

However, not all of the bills either introduced or filed on the first day are related to taxes. Furthermore, the multiple bills filed that are centered on taxes indicate a lack of consensus on what majority Republicans think tax relief should look like.

The Senate introduced 22 bills on Wednesday, while the House has five bills listed.

Back in August, Gov. Mike Parson said he wanted the legislature to pass both a series of tax credits related to agriculture and a permanent income tax cut.

That announcement came after Parson vetoed bills addressing the same topics, saying that the agriculture bill did not have a long enough sunset date and that the bill providing a one-time, nonrefundable tax credit did not apply to enough people and was only temporary.

Parson’s tax plan includes lowering the top individual income tax rate from the current 5.3% to 4.8%. He also wants to increase the standard deduction and eliminate lower tax brackets. The plan would cost approximately $700 million.

Some of the bills filed, such as one by Sen. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, are consistent with Parson’s proposed 4.8% rate. However, the same bill also includes a one-time tax credit.

Another, presented by Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, lowers the rate to 4.7% but could continue to lower the rate by 0.8% over a period of years.

Other bills related to taxes are not about income taxes. A bill offered by Sen. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, would repeal the gas tax increase the legislature passed two sessions ago.

“I’m proposing that we consider relieving some burden on all Missourians because roads are in good shape and 2.5 cents, although might not be considered much to many, it is to some,” Moon said.

Lawmakers have also filed bills unrelated to the underlying task entirely, hoping some issues they wanted to pass during the regular session will do so this time.

Rep. Ron Hicks, R-Defiance, refiled his bill that would legalize recreational marijuana use in Missouri. Voters will have a chance in November to pass a constitutional amendment on the same topic. However, in a statement, Hicks called Amendment 3 a disaster.

“Passing the Marijuana Freedom Act will ensure that this corrupt initiative is rejected by the voters,” Hicks said.

Multiple senators also introduced bills related to subjects that did not pass during the regular session, including Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, who says he wants to pass tax cuts, but there are other important issues.

“We many times down here say we work to protect the most vulnerable and among those, of course, are unborn children, but they also include our born children who are under assault by radical left ideologies,” Onder said.

Parson has already rejected requests to expand this special session to include other topics, so it is unlikely he would sign any bills into law outside of what he has requested.

Meanwhile, the veto session, which is required to begin the second Wednesday in September, is also continuing, with neither chamber taking any action on vetoed legislation yet.

Follow Sarah Kellogg on Twitter: @sarahkkellogg

Sarah Kellogg is a Missouri Statehouse and Politics Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio and other public radio stations across the state.