Special Laws Get Special Attention
I think I have a new candidate for Missouri’s worst law: RSMo 94.270. What makes this law so awful is that it combines two of the things I loathe: government licensure and special laws written in blatant violation of our state Constitution that are somehow allowed anyway, probably because hardly anyone ever challenges them.
The first section of the law lists all the types of businesses cities are allowed to license and tax. A very revealing part of the law adds another word (emphasis added):
and to license, tax, regulate and suppress ordinaries, money brokers, money changers […]
The law then proceeds to get even worse, where it specifically forbids three cities from applying hotel taxes larger than a certain (very small) amount. Now, far be it for me to argue in favor of letting cities tax more, but it is still ridiculous that the legislature allows some cities to enact hotel taxes and forbids others from doing so. This law limits the taxation options of only three cities: St. Peters, Woodson Terrace, and Edmundson. The mayor of St. Peters has recently asked for an investigation, but that is not the point of my post.
Missouri has way too many “special laws” that apply only to certain areas or municipalities. Many of those laws allow for higher taxes or increased government authority. Just because this one limits taxes is not a good reason for it to apply so selectively, although I guess that makes it very slightly better than the others. I hope the cities targeted by the law challenge this and win, and I hope that it leads to fewer specially targeted laws all around. More to come on this from the Show-Me Institute in the future.