The Missouri Legislature returns to work this week without much time remaining in its session. A top priority will be the budget, but there are a couple of other important issues that need their attention as well. An eminent domain protection bill has passed the House and is in process in the Senate. It should be considered and passed to prevent private cooperation’s from using eminent domain to buy Missouri property on the cheap from landowners under stress from the current pandemic impacting the economy, or any other time.
Secondly, the legislature needs to finally address the internet sales tax discrepancy that is undercutting small businesses, county governments, and local fire and ambulance services. Government-mandated stay at home orders have strangled the American economy and accelerated the growing trend of Americans shopping online rather than in brick and mortar stores. Main street and small businesses will adapt, but their fight is unfair under current circumstances and state law. Here’s how: If I order a $4 box of cereal online, no local sales tax is collected in most places in Missouri. At my local grocery store, I’d pay an extra 30 cents. The state of Missouri gets its sales tax, and the extra 30 cents is distributed accordingly to the appropriate entities. If I buy the cereal online, the state still collects its tax, but the local governments are shorted, creating an incentive to shop online and an unlevel playing field for Main Street.
It’s time to address the online sales tax issue. Amazon and Walmart won’t notice the difference, but we’ll notice gravel on our roads and the lights on in our local businesses.
Kyle Carroll is the presiding commissioner of DeKalb County.