JEFFERSON CITY -- The Missouri Supreme Court will hear arguments next week over whether legislation creating incentives for science and technology companies is constitutional.
The Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act (MOSIRA) was struck down by a Cole County judge in February because the bill that created it included a contingency clause that said it couldn’t go into effect unless a separate tax credit bill also won approval.
Despite months of negotiations between Republicans leaders in the House and Senate, the tax credit bill was never passed.
MOSIRA has been a high priority over the years for the Kansas City area, where leaders saw it as a method to keep Missouri companies from moving to Kansas to take advantage of incentives from a similar fund called The Kansas Bioscience Authority.
It calls for a portion of tax revenue created by new jobs at science and technology companies to be diverted into a fund designed to help grow those industries around the state. It was one of only two bills passed last year during a largely unproductive special legislative session called by Gov. Jay Nixon to focus on economic development.
The judge ruled the contingency clause was unconstitutional and, because he believed it was vital for the legislation to pass and “may well have been a last-ditch attempt to garner enough votes,” the entire fund was unconstitutional.
Attorney General Chris Koster appealed the decision, arguing that the Cole County judge was correct in declaring the contingency clause unconstitutional but wrong in ruling that the clause cannot be severed from the overall bill.
The unconstitutional clause can be struck down while allowing the rest of the bill to stand, Koster contends.
Two anti-abortion organizations -- Missouri Roundtable for Life and Missouri Right to Life -- filed the lawsuit challenging MOSIRA. The groups oppose the fund because they believe money will be used to pay for human cloning and embryo experimentation, although human cloning is already forbidden by a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2006.
Both groups agree with the Cole County judge that the legislation never would have passed without the contingency clause, an argument supported in February by Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, a Dexter Republican.
The Missouri Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case on Wednesday.