Representative Ed Lewis's Capitol Report
House Advances Measure to Support Missouri Farmers (HB 3)
Lawmakers returned to the State Capitol building this week to give their support to legislation that will support and promote key areas of Missouri’s agriculture industry. House members approved HB 3 as part of the special legislative session called by Gov. Mike Parson.
Parson called the special session after vetoing HB 1720, which created and renewed a number of agriculture incentives that would sunset after two years. Parson asked lawmakers to return to Jefferson City to approve a version of the bill that would give the programs a six-year sunset.
The bill approved this week by the House extends and creates several agriculture tax credit programs. The sunset for each program would be for a minimum of six years. If approved by both chambers and signed into law by the governor, the bill would:
Extend the expiration of the meat processing facility investment tax credit;
Create a tax credit program for retail dealers of higher ethanol blend fuels;
Create a tax credit program for retail dealers of biodiesel;
Create a tax credit program for Missouri biodiesel producers;
Create a tax credit program for establishing or improving urban farming operations;
Extend the expiration of the Rolling Stock Tax Credit program;
Extend the expiration of the Agricultural Product Utilization Contributor Tax Credit;
Extend the expiration of the New Generation Cooperative Incentive Tax Credit;
Exempt utility vehicles for agriculture use from state and local sales and use taxes;
Create the Specialty Agricultural Crops Act; and
Amend the Family Farms Act to modify the definition of small farmer.
The bill’s sponsor said, “This bill is tailored right now towards family farms and smaller businesses.” He noted agriculture is a self-sufficient industry but could use assistance now because of rising interest rates, greatly increased input costs, and drought conditions in some parts of the state. He said, “The stars are lining up as they did in the late 70s and early 80s in what was considered the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression for agriculture.”
The bill approved by the House contains all of the provisions called for by Gov. Parson. The House did add an additional four provisions that technically fall outside the governor’s call. The four provisions pertain to land surveys, commercial log trucking, anhydrous ammonia, and the state’s soybean producers assessment. Lawmakers believe the governor will expand the special session call to allow the four additional provisions.
The bill’s sponsor said it has a price tag of $40 million for an agriculture industry that generates $94 billion in economic activity. He noted that agriculture is one of the state’s top revenue producers and that one out of every 10 jobs in Missouri is related to the agriculture industry.
The sponsor concluded by saying, “There’s good stuff in here. I think it gives small businesses, the small farms, an opportunity to compete in the arena with the big farms and the big businesses. I would ask that people really think about this and do what’s best for the small business farmers in our state.”
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. The Senate sent identical legislation (SB 8) to the House this week. The two chambers will work on the bills next week with the hope of sending one or both of them to the governor to be signed into law.
Senate Sends Tax Cut Plan to House (SB 3)
The members of the Missouri Senate also met this week to work on a tax cut plan that will allow Missourians to keep more of their hard-earned dollars. The tax cut was called for by Gov. Mike Parson, who asked legislators to help Missourians keep more of their hard-earned dollars.
Parson asked legislators to reduce the individual income tax rate, increase the standard deduction, and further simplify the tax code. His proposal would reduce the top individual income tax rate from 5.3 to 4.8 percent. It would also increase the standard deduction for individuals by $2,000 and by $4,000 for married joint filers, and eliminate the bottom income tax bracket.
The plan approved by the Senate would reduce the state’s top tax rate to 4.95 percent. It would also add four future reductions that would be triggered by revenue growth. If fully implemented, the Senate plan would make the top tax rate 4.5 percent. The Senate bill does not increase the standard deduction as requested by Gov. Parson with his special session call.
The bill now moves to the House where members will have the opportunity to pass the bill in its current form or make changes that will require further negotiation with the Senate. The House is expected to take the bill up next week.
Veto Session Concludes
While legislators were back in Jefferson City to convene for special session, they also wrapped up work on their annual veto session. Veto session gives lawmakers the opportunity to consider override motions to put bills into effect as law despite the governor’s objections. This year the House and Senate had three vetoed House Bills and one vetoed Senate Bill to consider, as well as line-item vetoes in eight appropriations bills. House and Senate members chose not to attempt any veto overrides on the first day of veto session, which was held September 14. The annual veto session officially concluded on September 21 when lawmakers again opted not to attempt overrides on any of the governor’s vetoes.
Recognizing Farm Safety and Health Week
During the same week the members of the Missouri House worked to advance legislation supporting the state’s agriculture industry, the Missouri Department of Agriculture announced the celebration of Farm Safety and Health Week. Established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944, the third week of September is officially set aside to recognize that fall harvest time can be one of the busiest and most dangerous seasons of the year for the agriculture industry. This year’s theme established by the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) is Protecting Agriculture’s Future.
Missouri is blessed to serve as home to 95,000 farms and employs nearly 460,000 people in agriculture, forestry and related industries. Agriculture remains the state’s number one economic driver, supporting both rural and urban communities from farm to fork. In turn, farm safety and health is of utmost importance throughout the state.
The director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture said, “The safety of our farmers and ranchers remains a top priority for my team each year. We live in a fast-paced world, and an equally-fast-paced industry. Reminding farmers to slow down, pay attention and take care of themselves is something I emphasize as the director of agriculture.”
In an effort to help protect agricultural health and safety professionals, healthcare providers, extension agents, producers, farmers, ranchers, and farmworkers, the AgriSafe Network is hosting daily webinars throughout the week. Topics include tractor and roadway safety, grain bin safety, wildfire and heat safety, workplace sexual harassment prevention, injury prevention, and mental health help for youth and adults.
Mental health is equally as important as physical health in the agriculture industry. The Missouri Department of Agriculture, in partnership with the AgriSafe Network, has launched the AgriStress Helpline for Missouri to provide Missouri farmers and ranchers a free and confidential mental health service. The Helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Producers can call or text (833) 897-2474 to speak to a healthcare professional.
For more information on National Farm Safety and Health week, visit https://www.necasag.org/nationalfarmsafetyandhealthweek/. To learn more about the Missouri Department of Agriculture and its programs, visit Agriculture.Mo.Gov.
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