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As senators work on tax cuts, House clerk works on chamber renovations

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

Missouri lawmakers headed home for the weekend Thursday after two days of veto session and the start of a special session.

They'll return next week for committee hearings and debate on several topics, some outside the scope of the governor's call for a special session.

The Missouri Senate gaveled in and out in less than half an hour Thursday. The meeting consisted of quick second readings on bills introduced Wednesday and referrals to committees. The Senate will reconvene at 4 p.m. Monday.

The Missouri House of Representatives only held a technical session Thursday. The House has yet to start its special session duties.

Special session

Gov. Mike Parson called a special session to cut income taxes and extend agricultural tax credits.

Parson vetoed a bill that would only extend agricultural tax credits for two years. He said he wants to extend them for at least six more years.

The governor also vetoed a tax rebate designed to give $500 back to single-filers in Missouri and $1,000 back to joint-filers. Parson said he wants permanent tax relief. Parson's plan would lower the top tax bracket rate from 5.3% to 4.8%, with Parson saying it will save Missourians more than $700 million per year.

However, senators introduced bills that take a variety of different approaches to tax cuts. Some Republicans introduced bills that would lower the tax rate even further, while the lone Democratic bill introduced would not change the tax rate.

Minority Leader Sen. John Rizzo (D-Kansas City) introduced a bill that, instead of lowering the tax rate, would give taxpayers a credit equal to the federal Earned Income Tax Credit.

All the tax bills introduced were referred to the appropriations committee. A hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Veto session

While the governor only called a special session for two things -- income tax cuts and extending agricultural tax credits -- lawmakers are using veto and special sessions to introduce bills they failed to get to the finish line earlier this year.

In the House, four bills were introduced during the veto session. Two are on hot topics in Missouri: sports wagering and recreational marijuana.

Two of Missouri's neighbors, Illinois and Kansas, already have legal sports betting. The Kansas and Missouri legislatures were in a race of sorts during the regular session to legalize it. While Kansas made it to the finish line and now has legal sports wagering, Missouri fell short.

Legalizing sports wagering in Missouri was widely supported by both parties during the regular session. The end of the road came when lawmakers could not agree on how much to tax betting.

The new bill, introduced by Rep. Dan Houx (R-Warrensburg), was referred to the Emerging Issues Committee for a hearing Monday. The bill addresses criticism of past proposals by creating a commission to assess the psychological damage caused by compulsive gambling. Houx's bill imposes a tax on gambling sites that would contribute to public education in Missouri.

Rep. Ron Hicks (R-St. Charles) reintroduced his Marijuana Freedom Act. The bill drew large crowds to the Capitol during the regular session but ultimately could not make it past the finish line.

The 76-page bill appears to be as omnibus as the one Hick introduced during the regular session. It was read for a second time Thursday but not referred to a committee.

Another group is working to legalize recreational marijuana. Legal Missouri 2022 successfully got an initiative petition on the November midterm ballot. The initiative petition faces criticism from advocates of the Marijuana Freedom Act, who say the amendment on the ballot would monopolize recreational marijuana and enshrine that system into the state constitution.

Construction on the House Chamber

Missouri House of Representatives Chamber on Sept. 15, 2022

Debate on the House Floor this special session will look different, physically speaking. The concrete floor beneath the ornate wool carpets is exposed as renovations take place.

In the first major renovation since the 1980s, the House Chamber is getting new carpets, new voting boards and new wiring. It was meant to be completed by late August, and while the voting boards are installed, any onlooker can see the renovations are far from complete.

Chief House Clerk Dana Rademan Miller said renovations on the House Chamber were delayed because of issues shipping in the new carpet. The carpet did arrive, but not with enough time to install it before the start of the special session.

The refinished chamber furniture sits in the hallway while the Clerk's Office devised a new plan to keep lawmakers in the chamber before renovations are completed. Representatives are working from folding chairs and tables fashioned with laptops and a voting box.

In all, the renovations cost about $1 million. Rademan Miller said it does not cost extra to delay the renovations for the special session.

Article Topic Follows: Missouri Politics
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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.

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