Missouri is the latest state to take action to protect unclaimed properties.
The Missouri House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that will require owners of unclaimed land to pay back the money they’ve spent on cleaning up their property, and to report the money to the Missouri Civil Rights Commission.
The bill passed the House on a voice vote, but it’s likely to be considered by the Senate.
The bills comes at a time when the number of uncollected property taxes has increased in Missouri.
A recent report from the Missouri Office of Tax and Finance showed that in 2014, the state collected $1.3 billion in uncollections.
While it’s easy to say that the tax money will go toward property improvements, the bill also includes a provision that would allow the money paid back to be used to “invest in educational programs, including the Missouri Student Achievement Trust Fund, Missouri Scholarship Program, and Missouri Public Schools Student Success Scholarship.”
That could help schools in the state’s poorest neighborhoods get on track toward their goal of having 100 percent of students in their schools proficient by 2020.
A report from The Associated Press also showed that Missouri collected $4.6 billion in property taxes in 2015, with nearly one in three people paying less than $20 a year.
It’s unclear how the bill will affect the estimated $6.7 billion that Missouri’s government will spend on education over the next 10 years.