JACKSON, April 25, 2013 -- The 2013 Mississippi legislative session was very successful for NFIB/Mississippi and small business. Here's a look at some of our victories:
- House Bill 141: Prohibits local governments from setting or mandating a minimum or living wage or sick leave requirement for employers by retaining any such authority with the Legislature, thus ensuring uniformity and continued acknowledgement that federal laws were more than enough.
- HB 545: Small businesses and individuals with 4 or more vehicles can choose to lower uninsured motorist (UM) coverage premium costs by not “stacking” (multiplying) the vehicles coverage by the number of vehicles covered; (previous threshold was 10). Savings: A comparison of Tennessee non-stacked coverage averaged a savings of about $200 per vehicle per year; or a savings of possibly $1,000/year for five vehicles. A similar law in Florida a few years ago allowed one to lower UM rates by 40%.
- HB 892: Provide tax audit protection for businesses and individuals by authorizing extensions of a sales and/or income tax audit examination period only by agreement between the Commissioner of Revenue and the taxpayer; and limiting taxpayer liability if a previous audit determined taxpayer was in compliance.
- HB 932: MS Department of Employment Security legislation providing a temporary one-year lowering of Unemployment tax (UI) rate and equal increase of Workforce (WET Fund) tax rate, resulting in one-time additional funding of $8 million for workforce training. Savings: an overall reduction in UI taxes of approximately $79.80 per employee for 2013.
- HB 1285: removed a significant cash-flow problem for small businesses by ending the previous legislative delays of the effective date of the increased threshold amount for the accelerated tax payment to apply; also authorizes compensation for collecting local & private taxes, the same as currently allowed for collecting state sales taxes. Savings: After this year approximately 1,770 small businesses will not have to pre-pay some $34.8 Million and thereby avoid a cash-flow nightmare; law also allows businesses to retain 2%(up to $50 per month) for collecting local & private taxes.
- HB 1680: Sales tax law; include certain recycling activities in the terms "to manufacture" and "manufacturing", thereby clarifying the sales tax rate on utilities/equipment at 1.5% (ILO 7%). Savings: $550 for every $10,000 spent on utilities or equipment.
- Senate Bill 2687: Prohibits local governments from enacting local ordinances which place mandates on the food industry, and retains any such authority to the Legislature, thus ensuring uniformity for these type businesses in Mississippi.
AGRICULTURE EQUIPMENT DEALERS
- HB 387: Includes all-terrain and off-road utility vehicles in inventory protection for agriculture equipment dealers; previously these businesses were made liable for payment of merchandise they did not order from a company they were no longer under contract with.
TIMBER and LOGGING
- SB 2451: Extended the law, which was about to sunset, on an increase in the maximum weight limit of vehicles issued harvest permits for logging and tree cutting.
MEDICAL EQUIPMENT and PHARMACIES
- SB 2244: Exempted sales of durable medical equipment & supplies from state sales tax when paid for by third party insurance; NFIB/Mississippi had previously helped obtain an exemption for sales paid for in whole/part by Medicare/Medicaid. Savings: When audited by the MS Department of Revenue for a 3-year period, these companies previously had to pay out of their own pocket (since they could not collect most of the sales tax due) about an average of about $30,000 per sales location,which is now saved.
MANUFACTURING and AGRICULTURE
- HB 844: Exempts sales of power or fuel to manufacturers and certain agricultural enterprises for industrial purposes, thereby repealing the current 1.5% sales tax. Savings: $7 Million for manufacturers and certain agricultural businesses.
- HB 1293: Overcomes unfair competition by giving small businesses an opportunity to compete for state and local government contracts against Mississippi Prison Industries, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, by restricting Mississippi Prison Industries’ current exemption from any bid requirements to only when it is selling to the Department of Corrections, its regional prisons and private prisons.
- HB 745: Helped defeat this MS Department of Revenue sales tax permit bill which would have required an initial $500 upfront fee (to apply as a credit toward tax payments) for a sales tax permit and an annual fee and permit thereafter of $30. First NFIB/Mississippi got the fees removed, then defeated the remaining annual tax permit requirement. Savings: $500 upfront fee, then $30 annually thereafter, plus hassle of annually applying. Several costly health insurance mandates which would increase the cost of health insurance.
- SB 2297: Would have created a Department of Labor.
- SB 2298: Eliminating the one-week waiting period for unemployment eligibility (which would have caused a cost increase of approximately $16.3 million), thus increasing unemployment taxes.