Missouri Minute: House committee votes down COVID-19 liability protections; gas tax hike advances

Hello, MBA readers,

Lawmakers have dealt a significant setback to legislation that would limit business liability related to COVID-19. A Missouri House committee on Monday voted down the bill, which is one of Gov. Mike Parson’s legislative priorities and would shield businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits. In other litigation news, Bayer is pursuing a strategy designed to deter future lawsuits over its Roundup weedkiller. The German conglomerate, which inherited the Roundup issues with its purchase of Creve Couer-based Monsanto, has reached an agreement to have a plaintiff appeal a recent Roundup ruling, in hopes that the case can reach the U.S. Supreme Court. And, at the increasingly crowded intersection of professional sports and blockchain technology, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Sean Culkin has announced his intention to convert all of his salary into the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.


Stay alert

Missouri House committee votes down COVID-19 liability protections
A bill that would protect businesses from lawsuits related to COVID-19 was voted down in committee, leaving the measure backed by the governor and prominent business groups with only a narrow path to passage. (Missouri Independent)

Missouri House committee unanimously approves gas tax increase
The committee voted to raise the state’s fuel tax of 17 cents per gallon by 12.5 cents over five years. The measure could generate more than $450 million annually for the state. (KOMU)

In pursuit of Supreme Court, Bayer paying plaintiff to appeal Roundup case
Bayer has agreed to pay a Georgia plaintiff who sued the company alleging Roundup weedkiller causes cancer. The plaintiff will appeal a piece of a December ruling known as a preemption claim. Bayer is banking on the appeals court disagreeing with previous appellate decisions in Roundup suits, increasing the likelihood the Supreme Court would hear the case and hand down a ruling discouraging future lawsuits. (Bloomberg)

Enterprise Financial announces spike in profits, $398 million acquisition 
The Clayton-based bank holding company reported $29.9 million in profits for the first quarter, more than double last year’s first quarter. Enterprise also announced it’s expanding in California by acquiring First Choice Bancorp for $398 million. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

St. Louis biotech startup raises $105 million, eyes drug development 
Arch Oncology, a clinical-stage immuno-oncology startup, is planning to develop its lead drug candidate with the capital. Eventide Asset Management, Cowen Healthcare Investments and 3×5 Partners led the round. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Creative Planning acquires advisory, adds business valuation capability 

The Overland Park, Kansas-based wealth management firm purchased Indianapolis-based Castle Wealth Advisors, which has $320 million in assets and provides business valuation services. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Alphapointe wins part of $150 million defense contract 
The Kansas City nonprofit, which works with people who are blind and visually impaired, is one of 16 organizations selected by the Defense Logistics Agency to provide support for a program designed to employ people with disabilities. (Kansas City Business Journal)

St. Louis mayor names top legal official
Mayor Tishaura Jones chose Matt Moak, executive director of the city’s Community Development Administration, to be interim city counselor. (St. Louis Business Journal)

St. Louis County executive questions councilman’s offer of tax appeal help
County Executive Sam Page voiced concern over an offer by St. Louis County Councilman Mark Harder, who is a licensed real estate agent, to help residents appeal their property tax assessments. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Mid-America Transplant plans $10.5 million St. Louis development
The organ donation nonprofit plans to open a 34,000-square-foot housing complex for patients and families who come to St. Louis for transplants. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Schmitt asks feds to leave out social cost of carbon emissions
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt joined 21 other Republican attorneys general in filing comments with federal regulators arguing against attempting to quantify the harm of carbon emissions in determining whether to approve new natural gas pipelines. (Missouri Independent)

Springfield breaks ground on first of four new fire stations
The first structure, Fire Station 4, will be a new building with a cost of about $3 million. (Springfield Business Journal)

Kansas City Symphony to bring back in-person concerts 
The orchestra has announced three in-person live events at the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts in May and June. (KCUR)


Say that again

“We never want to be in the position where we say business is booming. This is not a business that we hope to continue to grow.”

That is Colleen Daum, director of advancement for Covenant House Missouri, a program that provides short-term and transitional housing for people between the ages of 16 and 24. St. Louis shelters struggled before the pandemic to serve the city’s population of homeless youth, but the pandemic has increased demand for shelters, putting even more pressure on them, St. Louis Public Radio reports. Covenant House Missouri saw its list of youth waiting for a bed increase from 76 to 161 over the course of 2020. That increase is largely attributed to the pandemic-induced increase in joblessness, which hit young people particularly hard.


Go figure

$26,000

Lumber prices have quadrupled in the last year, forcing builders to repeatedly reprice their homes to keep up with the cost of building, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Because of this, it is estimated housing prices have increased by $26,000, with both demand and supply pressures contributing. Demand for housing and house remodeling went up significantly during the pandemic, and firms and production facilities were forced to shut down, decreasing supply. Lumber supply issues trace their roots back years, with one Missouri lumber seller calling recent price issues the result of “a decade-long train wreck.”


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Kansas City Chiefs tight end Sean Culkin announced that he is set to convert his salary in Bitcoin. Culkin is set to earn $920,000 this season, The Kansas City Star reports. Culkin graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in finance, and he will use the app Zap to automatically convert his pay from the Chiefs into the cryptocurrency.


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