‘Kill the Bill?’ event draws hundreds of students for HB 253 discussion
COLUMBIA, Mo. — The University of Missouri— Columbia’s Missouri Student Association invited the Columbia delegation and Mizzou students to raise awareness about House Bill 253, an income tax bill vetoed earlier this summer by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon that has swallowed the political news in the state since session ended.
MSA President Nick Droege said that while his organization doesn’t support the bill because of concerns about education funding, the event was designed strictly to engage students on the issue they may not be familiar with and hear from local lawmakers.
“We’re really hoping students will leave this event and then go out and want to do their own research,” Droege said. “And hopefully that will lead them to reaching their own conclusions about this issue.”
Lawmakers in attendance included Democrat Reps. Chris Kelly and John Wright and Republican Rep. Caleb Rowden, all who represent some portion of Columbia. Wright and Kelly both voted against the measure when it originally came up during session and intend to vote against the override of Nixon’s veto, which Republicans have promised to attempt next week at the veto session.
Wright and Kelly spoken in firm opposition to the bill, with Wright calling the bill a “serious blow” to higher education. Kelly called the bill “a disgrace.”
“This bill has a tax hike for prescription drugs that wasn’t intended, but it’s there, that is an indisputable fact,” Kelly said. “The bill has a tax increase for college textbooks that was unintended but it’s there, that’s an indisputable fact. This bill allows for people to recover three years of back taxes if the federal Market Place Fairness act passes, that is an indisputable fact. We’re talking about a bill with mistakes totaling $1.5 billion. How high is your tolerance for incompetence?”
Rowden voted for the bill in May, but was hesitant to take a position at the event when asked directly. He told the audience that he would probably reach a decision the morning before veto session, or even later.
Additionally, Rowden criticized Nixon’s tactics in campaigning for his veto during the summer, claiming the governor was employing “scare tactics” and “bribing” key lawmakers.
“If I though that this bill was going to hurt Mizzou I’d be quick to vote against it,” Rowden said. “But I think the governor doesn’t want to lose a battle on this issue, and I think a lot of what he said is suspect.”
When speaking with reporters after the event, Rowden said he was doing “his own research” on the bill before making a decision. However, he also said he didn’t think HB 253 would become law.
“It’s dead,” Rowden said of the bill. “As of now, that’s where it is.”
While an organization supporting the override, Grow Missouri, has publically claimed they will seek primary challenges for Republicans who vote against the override, Rowden said he has received no such threats and “couldn’t care less” about the threat.
“If they primary me then that’s what they do, but nobody has threatened me or called me and tried to push me,” Rowden said. “It’s my own decision to make.”
Several Republican lawmakers have already stated their opposition to the override and few if any Democrats are expected to support the effort against the Governor. House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, has not firmly committed to bringing the bill up for a vote, but has said multiple times during past interviews that he will bring up bills that have the amount, or close to the amount, needed to override the veto, which in the House is 109 representatives.