Busy Day at the State Capitol
JEFFERSON CITY - In a tumultuous day at the Missouri State Capitol, lawmakers in the Senate were able to push through a number controversial pieces of legislation.
As the second week of Gov. Jay Nixon's proposed two-week special legislative session came to close, Senate members came to an agreement on a bill reforming Missouri's tax credit system, which would open up funding for an international trade hub at St. Louis International Airport.
The bill passed 26-8, with tax breaks for the trade hub set at $60 million--a cut of $300 million from the original proposal.
Opponents of the legislation say they worry it is unwise to give tax incentives without knowing exactly how much the state will benefit from the hub, which has been tied with export deals to China.
However, proponents--including St. Louis mayor Francis Slay--argue the bill could provide a major boost to the state's ailing economy.
Leaders from the Missouri House told reporters they were surprised by the Senate's agreement to a deep cut in tax incentives, saying they already thought a deal had been hashed out between the two bodies.
The bill now moves to the House, where the $300 million could be added in--setting up a legislative battle between the House and the Senate over what's been the most contentious issue of the special session.
The Senate bill also does not cut nearly $58 million tax credits to low-income elderly or disabled renters, as was originally proposed.
Senators also passed Wednesday a revised version of a law prohibiting teacher to student interaction on social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter.
The revised statues give more power to individual school districts to formulate its own policies on teacher to student interaction, including on the Internet.
The new law, which passed with a unianimous 33-0 vote, now moves to the House.
Gov. Jay Nixon placed the legislation on the special session agenda earlier this month.
Legislators will not return to Jefferson City until next Wednesday, when the special session is set to resume.