Missouri bills cover truck rules, trailer purchases

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, May 09, 2013

A bill halfway through the Missouri statehouse would bring some of the state’s truck rules in line with federal truck rules in exchange for a bundle of cash. Another bill covers vehicle sales tax.

House lawmakers voted 127-29 to send a bill to the Senate that would comply with federal rules on learning permits for commercial driver’s licenses and outlaw texting and the use of hand-held cellphones by truckers while driving.

Failure to make the changes could result in Missouri losing out on 4 percent – $30 million – of federal highway funds the first year. Withholdings double each year thereafter until compliance is achieved.

States must adopt the CDL testing standards by July 8, 2014. The deadline to adopt the texting ban is Oct. 27, 2013, and the cellphone driving rule must be updated by Jan. 3, 2015.

The bill – HB771 – awaits consideration in the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. If approved there, it would head to the Senate floor before it could move to the governor’s desk.

The legislative session is scheduled to wrap up by May 30.

Another bill of interest would allow communities to resume levying taxes on certain vehicle purchases.

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled in early 2012 that cities and counties cannot collect sales taxes when vehicle purchases are made in another state. The court also decided that the rule should apply to individual sellers.

Following the decisions, the Republican-led Legislature overwhelmingly backed a bill to allow the collection of sales taxes on affected purchases, including trailers. Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon later vetoed the bill, citing concern that the change would retroactively raise taxes on more than 122,000 vehicles purchased since the court decision.

Bill supporters say something needs to be done about the perceived tax loophole. They say that Missouri vehicle dealerships are losing business and local governments are losing revenues.

Lawmakers revisited the issue again this spring only to have the bill vetoed due to the governor’s concern about voters’ ability to repeal the tax included on private transactions.

Hopeful the third time is the charm, another effort at the statehouse would redefine vehicle sales taxes by applying them to the titling of vehicles in the state. Voters would then decide whether to discontinue the collection of sales taxes on titling for vehicles bought outside of Missouri or from individuals.

The bill – SB23 – is in a conference committee. Select lawmakers from both chambers must agree on wording in the bill before it can get full House and Senate votes.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Missouri, click here.

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