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Down to the Wire on China Hub Bill

Scott Kanowsky, State Capitol Bureau
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(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (MDN) - The special session of the Missouri legislature will linger into yet another week after the state Senate was not able to reach agreement on a wide-ranging tax reform bill Tuesday.

Senate President Pro-Tem Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, told reporters after a late afternoon meeting of the Senate Republican caucus that the fate of legislation — which has already been passed by the Missouri House of Representatives — will now be decided in a conference committee.

“We’ll have the opportunity to go to conference to argue or present our position as to why we’re where we’re at,” Mayer said. “At the end of the day, we’ll see if we change anybody’s mind.”

The House version of the bill does not include certain termination dates for new tax credits, which total roughly $60 million and include the creation of an international trade hub at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Senate leaders have said they will not pass this bill if the termination dates, known as sunsets, are not included.

“Are we going to pick up and pass a bill that the House sends over that does not include sunsets? No,” Sen. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis County, said last week.

House Speaker Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, said last week the House was trying to “craft a bill that the Senate will take up and pass.” However, Mayer stayed true to the Senate’s message Tuesday, saying the chamber will not consider a bill without sunsets.

“I told the caucus that there would be nothing passed out of this Senate that did not have seven-year sunsets,” Mayer said, specifically pointing out the Senate’s need for sunsets on tax credits for low-income housing and historical buildings.

This inner-chamber conflict has continued for weeks with neither side willing to let the legislation die under its control.  Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who has been an avid supporter of tax credit reform, asked the legislature to come to some sort of agreement and end the special session.

The Senate met briefly and promised to begin conference committee meetings next week when, regardless whether a consensus is reached, Mayer said he expects the special session to end.

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