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Spring Issue of Commercial Connections
Check out the latest issue, featuring an outlook on the first quarter market survey, new research on cross-border investment, NAR’s commercial legislative and regulatory priorities for the year, and updates from our technology partners CommercialSearch and RPR Commercial.
GOVERNOR SIGNS DATA STORAGE
Today, Governor Nixon signed HB 149, authorizing tax exemptions for the creation or expansion of data storage facilities in the state. Missouri is an ideal candidate for these facilities due to low electric costs and infrequent natural disasters. Under the legislation, a company is eligible for sales and use tax exemptions for machinery, equipment, computers, electrical energy, gas energy, water and other utilities for companies that either build a new data storage facility that create an investment of $25 million and creates at least ten jobs paying a minimum of 150 percent of the county wage. It offers the same tax exemption for the expansion of existing facilities that invest $5 million and create 5 jobs at 150 percent of the average county wage. This legislation has been in the works for several years and nowt hat it is signed will go in to effect August 28th, 2015.
LEGISLATURE PROMOTES ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Missouri’s legislature is always looking for ways to make the state a better place to start or grow a company. One tool used for the last few decades to support startups is the Missouri Technology Corp. A part of the Department of Economic Development, MTC has been investing directly in Missouri based startups and matching others investments to help generate the capital needed to start some of these companies which have gone on to thrive. After demonstrating consistent success, including generating a $5 million return on investment in 2013, the legislature has appropriated $15,86 million, coming just days after the Governor released millions more of MTC’s funding from budget restriction. It is unclear what their final appropriation will be after conference committees, and even if passed the funding could be again restricted by the Governor. Still, the legislature has financially endorsed an economic development tool with a proven tracked record, demonstrating their commitment to growth and creation of business in the state.
TAX INCREMENT FINANCING MOVES FORWARD
The Senate Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government heard testimony this week on legislation that would authorize tax increment financing for an abandoned auto manufacturing plant in the St. Louis Area. HB 514, sponsored by Rep. Leara, would provide resources for the redevelopment of the hundred-acre site. The project is projected to create hundreds of jobs both directly in light manufacturing and administration as well as construction jobs for the rehabilitation. The committee did not vote on the legislation and it is unclear when they will take further action.
BUDGET PASSES THE SENATE, BARELY
In a push from Majority Floor Leader Ron Richard, the Senate took up and passed all thirteen budget bills in a debate that began on Tuesday afternoon and lasted into the early hours of Wednesday morning. Working until just before 4:00 am, the bills were taken up and passed on the Senate floor. The major sticking point of the debate was a five hour filibuster by Senators Schaaf, Onder and Emery on the social services budget, specifically an expansion of managed care. After a compromise was struck regarding managed care, the social services bill, HB 11, still failed by one vote, forcing someone from the prevailing side to make a motion to reconsider the bill. Ultimately the bill passed, as did all the other budget bills, and they were sent back to the House as amended. Over the next few weeks the two chambers will meet in conference committees to reach compromises between the House and Senate positions on each bill. The members of the conference committees are appointed by the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tem of the Senate to represent the respective chambers in discussions. Just as in floor debate, the most contentious and complicated conference committees will be for HB 10 and 11, due to Senator Schaefer’s unconventional appropriations method for those two budgets. The budget process is still running ahead of its usual schedule, meaning it will likely pass before the constitutional deadline of May 8th, forcing Governor Nixon to take action while the General Assembly is still in session. This is significant due to the passage of Amendment 10, which grants the legislature the right to override line item vetoes or withholdings by the Governor, giving them more power over what programs are and are not cut when the budget cannot be fully funded.
MGA Legislative Alert: Dentons Lobby Team Report – Week 12
SENATE FINISHES BUDGET LINE ITEMS
This week the Senate made significant headway on the state budget bills. After going through line-by-line and approving or amending the specific dollar amounts, the Senate Appropriations Committee went back through each bill to make any changes to the House’s language. The Appropriations committee, chaired by Senator Kurt Schaefer, was diligent in finishing the budget and getting the twelve bills to the Senate Floor coming in early every morning and staying exceptionally late Wednesday evening. The Committee made major changes to HB 10 and HB 11, by eliminating many of the line items and combing them together. They granted 100% flexibility to these large line items for mental health and social services, and decreased the budgets by 4% and 6% respectively. With the Senate’s changes to the state budget, the two chambers will eventually go to conference on the bills before sending them to the Governor’s desk for his signature. The goal remains to get the budget to the Governor’s desk a week before the constitutional deadline so the General Assembly has time to override vetoes during the regular session.
HOUSE ADVANCES CHANGES TO ST. LOUIS COUNTY TAX POOL
Legislation to modify the St. Louis County tax pool was voted “Do Pass” by the Select Committee on State and Local Governments. HB 812, sponsored by Rep. Leara, was passed on Thursday morning and will now move to the House floor for debate. Leara’s bill applies to the sales tax in St. Louis County, and, if passed, would establish a new system that distributes revenues in Group B based on the amount of tax brought in by that municipality. Currently, the revenue is distributed evenly to these entities according to population and not according to the amount of revenue each area actually collects. HB 812 would require that at least 50% of the revenue generated within any Group B municipality remain in that municipality. The bill will be added to the House Calendar and may be brought up for debate at any time.
MISSOURI OFFICIALS TAKE EUROPEAN TRADE MISSION
Governor Jay Nixon spent eight days of the Legislative Spring Break traveling to Germany, Italy and Spain with directors of Department of Economic Development and Agriculture, Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, and House Speaker John Diehl. The goal of this European trade mission was to attract additional foreign investment and to increase the state’s exports, potentially in the automobile manufacturing sector. Germany ranks seventh as Missouri’s international trade partner, with Italy and Spain ranking 17th and 32nd, respectively. The group met with Italian cement producer Buzzi Unicem and the German chemical company BASF, along with German car manufacturer BMW. Both Buzzi Unicem and BASF currently have Missouri plants. One thing that stood out to the European trade partners during the week’s meetings was Missouri’s AAA credit ranking, a huge plus in the eyes of foreign investors. The Governor’s trip began on March 20th and concluded on Saturday, March 28th. While there has been no official word on new deals, Governor Nixon says he is optimistic that the trip will generate new business for the state.
Transit-oriented developments are reflecting the preferences of today’s younger professionals. Many of them opt to ditch cars as long as they can live within walking distance of amenity-rich areas and easily catch transit when they’re looking to venture beyond their neighborhood hub. Read more here.