State Senator Karla Eslinger’s Legislative Column May 6, 2022Ozark Radio News

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Protect property rights and refund taxes

As the end of the 2022 legislative session nears, the Missouri Senate has taken two major steps that will directly impact all Missourians. In one vote, the Senate pushed back against private companies trying to take over private property by force. Another bill before the Senate will return some of the state’s current financial windfall directly to taxpayers.

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Internal Bill 2005 — Property rights are among our most valuable fundamental freedoms and are protected by the constitutions of the United States and Missouri. However, there are rare occasions when these rights are superseded by projects of public interest. It is one thing for the state to use its power of eminent domain to condemn private land when building a road or damming a river. It’s something completely different when a for-profit company wields that big stick for personal gain. Such was the case recently when an out-of-state utility company sought to construct a high-voltage electrical transmission line in northern Missouri. House Bill 2005 will raise the bar for future attempts to use eminent domain powers by requiring developers to pay above-market prices when these proceedings are allowed to continue. The bill enshrines in law property right protections for our farmers that will protect them from private companies taking their land without fair value compensation. I was proud to vote for this bill and want to thank my colleagues in the Senate for their leadership in ensuring this bill continues to move forward, as well as our farm groups who have fought to protect the Ozarks .

House Bill 2090 – During consideration of a routine bill that changed payroll schedules for state employees, the Senate included an amendment that will send Missouri taxpayers a tax refund during this funding period without precedent in our state budget. As I’ve mentioned in previous reports, Missouri is currently enjoying a record budget surplus due to pandemic relief and infrastructure investment programs passed by Congress, as well as healthy tax revenues fueled by the economy favorable to state enterprises. This year, the Legislature voted to give some of that money back to the people. House Bill 2090 now includes a tax credit of up to $500 for every Missourian earning less than $150,000 a year. Married couples filing jointly with a combined income of less than $300,000 may qualify for a $1,000 tax credit. The Senate-approved language includes protections to ensure that no taxpayer receives more money than they pay out. This means that someone who only owes $1 in state income taxes would only receive a $1 credit, not the full $500 or $1,000.

With just one week left in session, the Missouri Senate continues to pass good and responsible legislation that is true to our values. There is still a lot of work to do next week, but I pledge to work hard to ensure that the voice of the Ozarks continues to be heard in the Senate.

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