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JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House has passed a bill that would reauthorize several "benevolent" tax credit programs, including one that benefits pregnancy resource centers.
HB 87, sponsored by Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, passed Feb. 7 with a vote of 149-2. The bill also addresses other tax credit programs, including those that benefit food pantries, children in crisis and individuals with disabilities. The House adopted an emergency clause that would make the law effective upon the governor's signature.
Last month, the Senate approved its version, SB20, sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield. Both bills now cross chambers for consideration.
Deacon Sam Lee, a pro-life lobbyist with Campaign Life Missouri, supported both bills, along with the Missouri Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state's bishops. Lee said that the recent legislative efforts are a payoff of more than three years of "a lot of work by many people." For several years, legislators have been pushing for a reform of the state's 61 tax credit programs. In particular, two tax credit programs receiving considerable scrutiny are for low-income housing, which received more than $164 million in redemptions last fiscal year, and historic preservations, which had $134 million in redemptions.
That has left smaller tax credit programs hurting as they wait to be reauthorized, said Lee. The pregnancy resource center tax credit has a $2 million cap. Several pregnancy resource centers, including Birthright Counseling of St. Louis, have noticed a decrease in donations since the program expired last August.
In 2010, Gov. Jay Nixon launched the Missouri Tax Credit Review Commission, a bipartisan effort to look more closely at the efficiency and return on investment from the programs. Despite work on the issue, no reforms were passed during the 2011 or 2012 legislative sessions.
Burlison, who sponsored HB 87, said that tax credit programs that benefit charitable organizations such as pregnancy resource centers are at a better vantage point for "seeing the needs in the community and responding in a way that is far better than the government could ever handle." These organizations are "seeing the change and the humility of people humbly giving through the heart. I think a greater thing is happening here than the exchange of money."
Lee, who has been lobbying for pro-life legislation for nearly 30 years, said he's seeing a greater awareness within the legislature that "you don't just need to start another government program" to help those in need. "Now it seems more like how do you encourage people to empower themselves?" Tax credit programs, for example, "empower the agencies (that benefit from them) but also the volunteers and the women and unborn children who are going to be served."
Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, called for reinstatement of benevolent tax credit programs in his opening day address to the Missouri House of Representatives Jan. 9.
"These credits have been instrumental in helping so many worthwhile causes, from pregnancy resource centers to food pantries," he said. "This year we must work to reinstate the credits that have helped our charitable organizations to do so much for so many."
More Multimedia Slideshows
|December 19, 2012 Click to view »||November 28, 2012 Click to view »|
|October 31, 2012 Click to view »||October 31, 2012 Click to view »|
|October 15, 2012 Click to view »||October 10, 2012 Click to view »|
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