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'Angel Investment' seeks to attract high-tech money to state

Missouri Capitol
Kristofor Husted

The Missouri House has passed legislation to create tax incentives to lure wealthy high-tech investors to the Show-Me State.

The "Angel Investment Incentive Act" would provide seed capital to would-be investors, particularly in high-tech fields.  The incentives would be managed by the state-run Missouri Technology Corporation, which would provide up to $6 million a year to potential investors.  State Rep.Delus Johnson, R-St. Joseph, says the proposal would benefit especially small business owners.

"Unfortunately in Missouri, a small business doesn't have the access to capital as it does in many other states, and that's exactly what this bill is going to do," Johnson said.  "It's going to allow an angel investor to come in, invest their capital into a small Missouri business.  They're also going to invest their expertise in these businesses."

House Bill 1310 contains some controversial language, though. The bill would bar investments in businesses that conduct human cloning, human embryonic stem cell research and abortion services.  State Rep. Genise Montecillo, D-South County, says she could have supported the bill if not for that provision.

"This anti-abortion entity – I know we're not supposed to talk about this entity, but that is what it is – they attach their language like a leach to good legislation and it makes it very difficult to support," Montecillo said.  "I don't understand what abortion has to do with angel investments, I don't understand what cloning has to do with angel investments...but I might add (that) stem cell research could actually lend itself to promoting life and good health for people who suffer from diabetes and other issues."

Montecillo was referring to Missouri Right to Life, which had opposed the bill before the language in question was added as an amendment.  The amendment itself was sponsored by state Rep. Chrissy Sommer, R-St. Charles.  Missouri Right to Life has not yet responded to a request for comments.

House Bill 1310 passed 114-36, with "yes" and "no" votes coming from both sides of the aisle.  It now goes to the Missouri Senate.

The Angel Investment proposal was also included in a wide-ranging tax credit bill that was also passed Thursday by the Missouri House.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Copyright 2014 KWMU-FM. To see more, visit http://www.stlpublicradio.org.

Missouri Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a proud alumnus of the University of Mississippi (a.k.a., Ole Miss), and has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off the old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Mason, and their cat, Honey.