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2016 Economic Impact Awards Business Advocate of the Year: Rep. Eric Burlison

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For the past eight years, Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, has advocated for southwest Missouri and his home district – the 133rd – in west Springfield. Those efforts have led to the passage of multiple bills drafted to increase jobs and reduce business regulations.

Burlison sponsored legislation such as 2011’s House Bill 338, which eliminated red tape for surgeons and helped pave the way for medical malpractice tort reform later in 2015, and HB 87 which extended benevolent tax credits.

The Republican often found himself in the news during the past eight years, the sponsor of multiple right-to-work bills, controversial legislation which polarized the state. HB 116 was approved 92-66 in the House and 21-13 in the Senate in the waning days of the 2015 session, but ultimately it received a veto from Gov. Jay Nixon.

It’s lesser known legislation Burlison is most proud of during his time in the House: a 2013 bill that changed the way manufacturers calculate their apportionment to the state.

When reporting gross revenue on a company’s taxes, Burlison says there were two methods of calculation. Companies could count 50 percent of sales outside the state and 100 percent inside Missouri or use a formula based on the company’s number of employees and facilities.

“If you have a lot of employees and facilities, you were being penalized for trying to grow as a business. None of it made sense,” he says. “When you would talk to major companies, they would say, “Why would I want to locate in Missouri? I’ll be accountable for what I produce in Missouri and taxed on that in addition to the state in which I’m selling it.’”

Burlison’s legislation changed the tax code so companies only are accountable for what they sell within the state.

“If you produce something you’re selling in another state, then that state may tax you, but Missouri won’t be holding you accountable for the sales you have in other states,” he says. “I’ve always been in favor of fixing tax code so it benefits everyone. We don’t want a designer tax code that just favors a few people. While it didn’t get a lot of fanfare, it will truly have the most impact.”

During his two terms, Burlison also addressed the problems of poverty, infrastructure and crime through jobs growth. A large portion of that was his work with Missouri State University. In 2015, he helped advocate for an additional $2 million annually for the school in the state budget for the creation of an occupational therapy program.

“It is kind of counter to what some people want, but the truth is, we spend a lot of money in our universities and unfortunately not all of it garners a degree that will get people a job,” he says.

In the 2016 budget, he also advocated for the creation of a mechanical engineering school and another $5 million appropriation for the renovation of Glass Hall.

The 98th General Assembly was his last as a representative, hitting the two-term limit. However, Burlison has no plans to leave public office, instead making a run at the state house’s other legislative body – the Missouri Senate. Burlison has thrown his hat in the ring for the 2018 election, running for the 20th district seat currently held by Republican Jay Wasson.

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