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Berry suggests a special session for HB 253 following Koster’s letter about a retroactivity trigger

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. — Following a letter from Attorney General Chris Koster stating that concerns about House Bill 253 allowing taxpayers to potentially collect taxes paid from the previous three years are valid, the bill’s sponsor said the governor should consider calling a special session to fix the issue.

Rep. T.J. Berry, R-Kearney, said today that while he appreciates Koster’s input, he doesn’t agree with the conclusion that HB 253 would allow citizens to collect from previous years. But, at this point, Berry said between this concern and the unintentional $200 million prescription sales tax hike, he thinks the governor should call the legislature into special session to take action.

Rep. T.J. Berry
Rep. T.J. Berry

“I think I will bring this to the governor and write a letter sometime this week,” Berry said. “If the problems he has been putting forward the last two months are his only problems, we can fix them pretty quickly.”

Berry said that “if [the governor] is serious about helping the state and not against tax cuts,” then fixing some of these other issues and coming to agreement on a final version should be doable.

A request for comment has been made to the governor’s staff and the story will be updated if a response is issued.

The letter from Koster was the first formal version of a stance the attorney general has taken on the HB 253 front. The purpose of the letter was to respond to House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, who penned a letter a few weeks ago requesting an opinion from Koster on whether the retroactive provision that the governor has discussed during his state tour these last few months was a concern that Koster shared.

“Moreover, even if the language of the statute could be considered ambiguous, courts require a construction in favor of the taxpayers of our state and strictly against the government when taxes are imposed,” Koster wrote about the provision in the bill that would allow the extra refund opportunity.

To read Koster’s full letter, click here.

Update:  House Speaker Tim Jones issued the following statement this evening in response to Koster’s letter:

“I am disappointed that Attorney General Koster chose not to show his independence on this important issue and instead sided with the liberal, tax-and-spend views of the governor and the president. In doing so, he missed an opportunity to join Republicans in our defense of Missouri taxpayers. Going forward, we will continue to rely on the legal analysis of our independent, non-partisan Legislative Research department that clearly refutes the highly-partisan claims made by the governor and now the Attorney General.”