After a long, difficult legislative session, the Missouri Legislature adjourned on May 18. Although there were fewer victories than expected, particularly on the tort reform front, the closing days did include a couple of important wins for the state’s small business owners. Here’s a look at some of the key takeaways.
Senate Bill 608, sponsored by Sen. Denny Hoskins, made it over the finish line with few changes and will be important for all business owners who have a parking lot or any grounds around your business, as well as any warehouses or storage facilities. This measure will make clear that business owners are not liable for the actions of someone who commits an illegal or violent act on business property.
The mammoth tax bill, which clocked in at 425 pages at one point, was whittled down to 9 pages by Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr and will be beneficial to both pass-through businesses and corporations. The individual income tax rate will decrease to 5.5 percent from 5.9 percent, and the corporate rate will drop to 4 percent from 6.25 percent in 2020.
This session looked like it would be a landmark one for tort reform. There were six bills ready to go—including HB 1611, which would have limited a business’ product liability, and HCS HB 2119, which would have clarified the standards for damages in a lawsuit and eliminated punitive damages if harm was not intended. However, only one (premises liability) made it through the session.
Right to Work
Both chambers passed a resolution that will move the Right to Work repeal initiative to August instead of November. This timing could be good for small business owners and all opposed to the repeal of the law.