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Rowland Report 9.20.2012

This week my colleagues and I joined the members of the Missouri Senate in overriding the veto of Governor Nixon on a piece of legislation designed to protect Missouri businesses from the overreach of federal government. The override motion was supported by both Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate. With the successful override, the bill now becomes law.

The bill that was vetoed by the governor in July is designed to protect employers who have a religious or moral objection to providing a health plan that offers coverage for abortion, contraception or sterilization. The bill comes in response to a mandate contained in the federal healthcare plan that requires all employers to offer health care plans that include coverage for birth control. The mandate is one that would apply to even universities and hospitals with a religious affiliation.

When we passed SB 749 during the regular session we did so to protect these religiously-affiliated institutions from being forced to compromise the beliefs they hold sacred in order to provide coverage for services they find unconscionable. Some have confused this issue and tried to make it about denying individuals access to contraception. This is simply not the case. The bill is about      protecting the religious liberties upon which our nation was founded. The bottom line is that we want to allow employers and individuals to have access to health plans that do not conflict with their most        deeply held religious and moral beliefs.

SB 749 protects religious institutions and families who want to buy insurance policies that are consistent with their religious beliefs. It upholds the religious liberties of all Missourians and makes     certain that the law does not force anyone to pay for services they find to be morally objectionable.

Leading up to veto session we had seen a lot of talk about a possible override of the governor’s veto on a bill dealing with vehicles sales tax. However, as the day of veto session came and went, the House made no motion to override the veto. The issue is one that has received a great deal of discussion as it is a very complex issue.

The bill was passed during the regular session in response to a Missouri Supreme Court ruling that eliminated the ability of local municipalities to collect sales taxes on out-of-state and person-to-person        vehicle sales.  The ruling meant that many cities and counties would see a large reduction in the revenues they need to provide basic services. It also meant auto dealers in Missouri would be at a competitive disadvantage in comparison to those across the border.  At the same time, it meant a reduced tax burden on Missourians who buy vehicles out of state or from a private party.

Ultimately, the House decided not to press the issue on this piece of legislation that would have once again allowed local municipalities to collect these sales taxes. Instead, we will look to address this issue in the coming legislative session. We will spend the remainder of the interim     working on a solution that will keep the best interests of taxpayers in mind while also allowing our cities and counties to balance their budgets and our auto dealers to remain competitive.

As always it is a privilege to represent you in State Government.