Relax folks, Missouri fixed its looming vehicle tax crisis.
Maybe that’s laying it on a bit thick. State lawmakers met in special session last week to consider legislation that allows Missourians to use the sale of multiple vehicles as a credit against the purchase of another vehicle. This tweak follows a Missouri Supreme Court ruling that limited the use of credits in multi-vehicle trade-ins.
The measure passed, but not without criticism that Gov. Mike Parson called a special session on a ticky-tack issue when more pressing matters, like gun violence and Medicaid availability, remain unaddressed. The multi-vehicle tax credit is used about 14,000 times a year.
Yes, we could envision a world when this tax credit legislation waited until January. But at least the measure was more or less a technical fix that provided modest tax relief and was enacted quickly.
The governor’s decision appears less suspect when compared against the Democratic minority’s desire to turn the special session into a free-wheeling referendum on gun control and Medicaid availability. Again, what’s so bad about January, except for the weather?
Democrats want to examine why more than 100,000 people have been removed from the state’s Medicaid rolls. These lawmakers work under the assumption that poor families were unfairly denied coverage, but Republicans assert that some of the reduction is due to an improved economy or stricter application of eligibility standards for a program that eats a growing portion of state resources.
Either way, we see a potential for a lot of talk but little concrete legislation during an abbreviated special session.
On guns, Kansas City and St. Louis lawmakers want to advance measures to reduce a spike of deadly violence in the state’s two biggest cities, but this is more about grandstanding than finding solutions. House Democratic Minority Leader Crystal Quade said lawmakers have a duty of “preventing more Missouri children from being murdered.”
Agreed, but this seems a rather grandiose view of your ability to influence events. Look at how local gun control works in Chicago.
Better to stick with narrow issues and leave the complicated tangle to January. To illustrate, consider how lawmakers spent one session addressing municipal court reforms in light of the Ferguson unrest.
The result was legislation that protects poor citizens who face municipal offenses, but it also makes it harder for cities like St. Joseph to collect fines for speeding violations. This unintended consequence can get addressed in a future regular session, but that’s not the point.
The real point is that the Ferguson legislation, necessary but flawed, resulted from four months of deliberation. Imagine how much damage lawmakers could do in four days.