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Wednesday, November 2, 2005
Missouri lawmaker wants umps to pay state tax

Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A state lawmaker and St. Louis baseball fan says umpires should pay -- literally -- for what he sees as bad calls made during the playoff series in which the Cardinals lost to the Houston Astros.

Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart, wants to expand the state athlete and entertainer tax to also cover officials such as umpires and referees. The tax is charged to out-of-state residents who earn money in Missouri while performing in such events as baseball games and concerts. Revenues are supposed to go to the arts, public libraries and other cultural programs.

Roorda said his idea grew out of his frustration with umpires in the National League Championship Series. But he also contends that it is logical to tax the officials affecting a game's outcome, not just the athletes who play it.

"I think if they're not going to pay attention, they ought to at least pay taxes," Roorda said. "Seriously though, I think it's good public policy. Referees and umpires play a critical role in the outcome of this game and are part of the entertainment experience."

Roorda said he doesn't know how much money would be generated by the tax but guessed it wouldn't reach the amount Missouri could have gained in tourism dollars if it hosted a World Series.

He plans to offer the tax legislation during the legislative session that starts in January.