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Missouri Chamber Opposes New Mandate Requiring E-Verify Check

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From the MO Chamber of Commerce and Industry
MISSOURI CHAMBER OPPOSES NEW MANDATE REQUIRING E-VERIFY CHECK (plus six other stories)
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is pushing back on a new business mandate.
This week, the House perfected HB 188, sponsored by Rep. Jim Murphy (R-St. Louis). The bill would require all employers to use the federal E-Verify system to verify the employment eligibility of all employees. Currently, private employers are not required to use the system, but they can be penalized for knowingly hiring an unauthorized individual.
“While many employers do choose to utilize the E-Verify system already, businesses should be allowed to decide whether or not they want to use this method to verify their employees’ eligibility,” said Heidi Sutherland, director of legislative affairs for the Missouri Chamber.
In addition to the new administrative burden, the bill also contains a penalty provision. After the first violation of the new E-Verify requirement, employers could be guilty of a class D felony for any subsequent violations.
An amendment was added during House debate requiring general contractors and subcontractors to report to the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations if they are made aware that a direct subcontractor is violating the law.
HB 188 is opposed by a wide range of industries, including retailers, grocers and tire manufacturers.
For more information contact Sutherland at hsutherland@mochamber.com or call 573-634-3511.
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MISSOURI LAWMAKERS CONSIDERING BILL THAT WOULD JEOPARDIZE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
A bill meant to allow farmers to repair their own farm equipment could threaten manufacturers’ intellectual property.
Known as a “right to repair” bill, SB 554 would give owners of products purchased or used in Missouri access to diagnostic and repair information, as well as the ability to purchase repair parts and tools.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is opposing SB 554, as it would force private businesses – including agricultural equipment manufacturers and electronics companies – to divulge proprietary technology and information.
Phillip Arnzen, director of legislative affairs for the Missouri Chamber, testified in opposition before the Senate Progress and Development Committee.
“We believe this is a new business mandate that would regulate how businesses operate and what their policies are,” Arnzen said. “Additionally, we believe this language could have some impact on intellectual property and require companies to disclose information they may not feel comfortable disclosing.”
The manufacturing industry already strongly supports the right for users to repair their own equipment by providing many different resources. However, allowing users the broad ability to modify their machinery could easily lead to violations of federally mandated safety or emissions regulations.
For more information, contact Arnzen at parnzen@mochamber.com or 573-634-3511.
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MISSOURI CHAMBER TESTIFIES IN FAVOR OF EMPLOYEE OWNERSHIP TAX DEDUCTION
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry recently offered testimony to renew legislation that would help companies become employee owned.
Earlier this year, the Missouri Senate voted out SB 247, sponsored by Sen. Justin Brown (R-Rolla), and sent it to the Missouri House. The House has passed HB 356, sponsored by Rep. Mike McGirl (R-Potosi), which includes Rep. Don Mayhew’s (R-Crocker) ESOP language.
In 2016, Missouri lawmakers created a new 50 percent income tax deduction on the proceeds business owners receive when they sell their companies to their employees. The incentive was intended to encourage businesses to go the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) route versus selling to a competitor or passing the business to out-of-state ownership.
The current law sunset at the end of 2022. Both Sen. Brown’s bill and Rep. Mayhew’s bill would repeal that sunset and extend the successful incentive program.
“This tax deduction is important to startups and companies in tech innovation that are moving to employee ownership,” Brown told the House Special Committee on Tax Reform. “More and more companies are offering this benefit to employees. I have two ESOP companies in my hometown of Rolla – one is a bank and the other a biotech company.”
“There are less than 100 ESOP companies in Missouri,” Brown added, “but the trend over the last 10 years shows it’s really starting to grow.”
Phillip Arnzen, director of legislative affairs for the Missouri Chamber, also testified in favor of the legislation, saying only a few companies have taken advantage of the tax deduction because it was only in effect for a few years. If the sunset is removed, more companies would take advantage of it.
“We believe that ESOPs are vital to attract new and innovative companies, as well as ensuring that the companies we already have here, stay here,” Arnzen added.
For more information, contact Arnzen at parnzen@mochamber.com or 573-634-3511.
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CYBERSECURITY LEGISLATION MOVING FORWARD
With the threat of cyberattacks on businesses more severe today than ever before, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is supporting legislation to create a grant program for employers to help enhance their cybersecurity protection.
The Senate Governmental Accountability Committee recently heard testimony on HB 668, sponsored by Rep. Dan Houx (R-Warrensburg).
This bill establishes a one-time grant program for businesses to enhance their cybersecurity protection. This legislation caps the grant program at $10 million, and individual businesses can receive up to $15,000 total. The program reserves 50 percent of the funds for small businesses with 1-50 employees.
“Many of us don’t realize there are cyberattacks going on constantly throughout our day,” Houx told the committee. “We’re just trying to help small businesses be able to get this protection.”
Missouri Chamber Vice President of Governmental Affairs Kara Corches testified that small businesses are the top target for cyber criminals because they think these businesses don’t have any cyber defense. In a recent poll, 80 percent of Missouri Chamber members said cyberattacks are a growing concern.
“Your hometown realtor is often a top target,” Corches said. “Think about escrow accounts and when they send out a link to someone buying their first home. It could be devastating, because someone could do a business compromise email and redirect that escrow payment to an overseas account.”
A companion cybersecurity bill, SB 380, is being sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Brian Williams (D-St. Louis).
For more information, contact Corches at kcorches@mochamber.com or call (573) 634-3511.
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MISSOURI CHAMBER TESTIFIES IN FAVOR OF STRENGTHENING PENALTIES FOR “SMASH AND GRABS”
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is supporting legislation that would make it a felony to damage, destroy or steal an ATM.
SB 186 is sponsored by Sen. Justin Brown (R-Rolla), who recently told a hearing of the House Special Committee on Public Policy that the crime is commonly referred to as “smash and grab.” Brown’s bill was passed out of the Senate in March, while a companion bill, HB 725 sponsored by Rep. Rick Francis (R-Perryville), was passed out of the House.
“Banks are vital for economic development and for businesses to grow and create jobs in communities,” said Kara Corches, vice president of governmental affairs for the Missouri Chamber. “We support this effort to deter this type of crime.”
This legislation goes along with other recommendations from a public safety report the Missouri Chamber released during the summer, Safer Missouri, Stronger Missouri.
Addressing crime is a leading priority of the Missouri Chamber this legislative session. More than 500 businesses and business leaders have signed the Missouri Chamber petition urging lawmakers to act on public safety measures this legislative session.
Supporters of Brown and Francis’ legislation have noted that currently the state can charge those who destroy ATMs with crimes like vandalism or property damage, but there is no specific penalty for ATM smash and grabs.
“ATMs are expensive to replace, if you can even find parts to replace them,” said David Kent, representing the Missouri Bankers Association. “It can be an eight month to a year-long process to get the machine back in service.”
Other supporters noted ATM thefts and vandalism are especially destructive in rural communities because some towns may only have a single ATM with which to access financial services.
For more information, contact Corches at kcorches@mochamber.com or call (573)634-3511.
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REGULATORY SANDBOX ACT AIMS TO NURTURE NEW BUSINESS IDEAS IN MISSOURI
A plan to offer new businesses some regulatory relief has made its way to the Missouri Senate.
On April 11, 2023, the Senate Economic Development and Tax Policy Committee heard testimony on HB 268, which creates the Regulatory Sandbox Act. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Alex Riley (R-Springfield), was passed by the House in February.
“What we are trying to do is encourage entrepreneurship in the state and let the nation know that Missouri is open for business,” Riley said. “We’re doing cool and exciting things in the innovation space here in Missouri, and this is one tool in the toolbox.”
HB 268 would create the Regulatory Relief Office within the Department of Economic Development. Businesses that apply for the program could receive a waiver from certain state laws or regulations during a two-year period.
Missouri’s regulatory sandbox would apply to all industries. Currently, Utah and Arizona have similar programs, and several other states have adopted industry-specific regulatory sandboxes.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry supports the bill as a way to remove barriers of entry for businesses, especially for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Other organizations in support include United WE, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and NEXT Missouri.
Similar legislation, SB 3, sponsored by Sen. Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg), has already passed the Senate.
For more information, contact Phillip Arnzen, the Missouri Chamber’s director of legislative affairs, at parnzen@mochamber.com or 573-634-3511.
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MISSOURI CHAMBER TESTIFIES AGAINST ANOTHER WORKPLACE VACCINATION MANDATE
Once again, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is fighting against a bill aimed at mandating workplace vaccination policies.
HB 1187, sponsored by Rep. Brian Seitz (R-Branson), would prohibit hospitals or health care facilities from requiring an employee to be immunized or disciplining them for their refusal to get the COVID- 19 vaccine. Private businesses would also be prohibited from requiring employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine or requiring proof of vaccination for entrance. This bill also establishes pathways for job-killing lawsuits against employers with vaccine requirements.
Since the legislative session began, the Missouri Chamber has led the effort to oppose this and other vaccination mandate legislation, standing up against efforts by state government to determine workplace vaccination policy.
During a recent hearing on HB 1187 before the House Emerging Issues Committee, Kara Corches, vice president of governmental affairs for the Missouri Chamber, reiterated the Missouri Chamber’s position: Let business decide.
“We take umbridge with the general statement that businesses are just trying to trample on individuals’ civil liberties,” Corches said. “Businesses are just trying to support and protect their employees. They really believe that employees are their greatest assets.
“It was unforeseen times during the COVID pandemic as business owners were faced with difficult decisions, like whether or not to close their doors. Do we require vaccines? And if we don’t, will we get sued? I don’t believe businesses should be villainized, and we need to remember that businesses also have rights.”
For more information, contact Corches at kcorches@mochamber.com or call 573-634-3511.

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