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Hough’s economic development bill survives nearly 10-hour filibuster

   

Points of order pepper Senate debate

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Republican Sen. Lincoln Hough’s economic development bill survived virtually intact following a nearly 10-hour filibuster from the upper chamber’s more conservative members. 

SB 594 establishes the “Targeted Industrial Manufacturing Enhancement Zones Act.” Simply put, it creates targeted industrial manufacturing enhancement (TIME) zones from at least two contiguous or overlapping political subdivisions in an effort to complete infrastructure projects and promote economic development. The bill lays out the groundwork for such TIME zones, including the types of projects and the amount of withholding taxes. 

Senators debated the bill for about 10 hours before it was perfected just before midnight. The Senate Conservative Caucus led the filibuster. 

“I was very happy with the outcome and perfection late last night,” Hough told The Missouri Times. “I will always support communities working together and adding economic opportunities for the people we all represent.”

In a late-night show of camaraderie, Sen. Paul Wieland, a fellow Republican, told Hough he had an amendment regarding tax credits versus Advanced Industrial Manufacturing (AIM) zones but noted debate could stretch for another few hours. He deferred to Hough on whether the amendment should be brought up; Hough refrained. 

The debate also featured multiple points of order, dividing lawmakers over proposed amendments eliminating certain property tax credits for elderly and disabled individuals, commonly referred to as the “circuit breaker” — and lawmakers weren’t just split along party lines. 

Toward the start of the debate, two conservative members attempted to attach amendments that would have eliminated the property tax credit. Both times, Democrats raised a point of order. And both times, a Republican joined them in support. 

Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz upheld the first point of order; he ruled against the second. 

It was Sen. Lauren Arthur who was successful with her point of order, which she levied against an amendment offered by Sen. Bill Eigel that would remove rent constituting property taxes accrued from the property tax credit. She argued Eigel’s amendment, as it did not change the title of the underlying bill, was outside the scope of its purpose. 

And Sen. Bill White agreed. The Republican from Joplin spent significant time on the floor Wednesday afternoon arguing in favor of the circuit breaker. He pointed to elderly Missourians in need who rely on the tax credit. 

Next up was Sen. Bob Onder who, like Eigel, is a member of the Senate Conservative Caucus. His amendment was identical in nature to Eigel’s but changed the bill’s title. This time it was Sen. John Rizzo, the newly-named minority floor leader, who raised a point of order. White again spoke in favor of it, but after the Senate stood at ease for about 30 minutes, Schatz ruled against it. 

Before Schatz’s ruling, Onder warned against upholding the point of order. He said doing so would have “grave effects” on the future of omnibus bills in the Missouri Senate. 

“I agree with the rulings on both points of order, and I respect the process,” Arthur told The Missouri Times. “And, since I won my first point of order, I’m proud to say my win rate is 100 percent.” 

Before perfection, Onder was able to attach an amendment to the bill that caps the total amount of withholding taxes retained by the TIME zones at $5 million per fiscal year.