JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A bill to encourage private donations for pregnancy resource centers and food panties was truly agreed to and passed by the House yesterday, increasing the amount of tax credits for both maternity homes and pregnancy resource centers to $2.5 million and food panties to $1.75 million.
The benevolent tax credit was sponsored by Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, with bipartisan support in both chambers.
“This bill may have the most impact on the state,” said Engler. “It affects every single district in the state. Every district has a maternity home, pregnancy resource center, or food pantry that is supported by hundreds of volunteers and donations.”
“Both maternity homes and pregnancy resource centers are growing in size, capacity and sophistication,” said Kerry Messer speaking on behalf of the Missouri Alliance for Life, which is Missouri’s largest network of pregnancy resource centers. “The focus of each agency is growing towards holistic care of women, children, and fathers.”
While Republicans largely championed the credit, some Democrats stood opposed. PRC’s frequently do not provide contraception, and some on the left claim they deliberately provide false or manipulated information with regard to abortions.
“Despite advertising themselves as legitimate sources of health care for women, Pregnancy Resource Centers refuse to provide or refer for the most commonly sought item in women’s health care – contraception,” said Ryann Sommerford, Statewide Manager of Government Affairs for Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri. “Additionally, Pregnancy Resource Centers are not required to protect the privacy of their clients. This is a bad deal for tax payers.”
Other opponents were critical of PRCs because of their suspicion of dishonesty with clients regarding pregnancy options.
Engler said the number of centers has increased faster than the tax credit allows, meaning current donors may or may not get their tax
credit for their donations.
“Generally, people give to organization that are going to promote good in their communities and assist people in need,” Rep. Linda Black, R-Desloge, cosponsor, said. “When the economy crunches, people are less likely to give but through a tax credit incentive – it gives them a way to afford to give charitable donations.”
“These agencies are supported by private dollars, donations, gifts, and so fourth,” Messer said, “Tax credits crease incentives to encourage people to support these agencies, predominately because the state has come to realize that these facilities take a huge burden off of public social service agencies.”
“The majority of legislators in our state run on a pro-life platform,” said Engler. “This bill gives more than just a promise, it actually does something to help young mothers and families in need.”
“I can’t emphasize enough the depth and growth of the maternity home and pregnancy resource center community,” said Messer.
Currently, up to $2 million in tax credits can be claimed cumulatively amonst tax payers in donations for both the PRCs and maternity homes. The bill will go into effect on July 1 of this year, provided it is signed by Gov. Jay Nixon.
Rachael Herndon was the editor at The Missouri Times and also produced This Week in Missouri Politics, published Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosted the #MoLeg podcast. She joined The Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.