New Missouri truck rules, vehicle tax await governor's signature

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 6/3/2013

A bill on the governor’s desk would bring some of Missouri’s truck rules in line with federal rules to avoid a hit to the state’s pocketbook. Another bill covers vehicle sales tax.

House and Senate lawmakers reached agreement on a bill in the final week of the regular session 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. The approval cleared the way for the bill – SB23 – to advance to Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk.

A lot of money is riding on state lawmakers’ decision to adopt the new rules. 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.

Another bill of interest on the governor’s desk 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 that 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 that the third time is the charm, lawmakers sent a bill back to Nixon’s desk that would redefine vehicle sales taxes by applying them to the titling of vehicles in the state. SB23 would let voters decide whether to discontinue the collection of sales taxes on titling for vehicles bought outside of Missouri or from individuals.

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

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