NFIB Leadership Council Legislative Update

Date: February 12, 2018

A major initial deadline of the 2018 legislative session for the Mississippi Legislature occurred last Thursday, January 8, 2018: Deadline for Original Floor Action on General Bills that passed Committees in their own house. 

The Legislature will now change its temporary focus to appropriation and revenue bills with a Deadline of Wednesday, February 21 for Original Floor Action.  Other deadlines are shown at the end of this update. 

Here’s the status of bills impacting various small businesses, and, where applicable, our NFIB position.

 

GOOD for SMALL BUSINESS

Several key bills that are part of our 2018 NFIB Legislative Agenda that are still alive:

 

In the REVENUE COMMITTEES for Consideration:

LOCAL PERSONAL PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTIONS:

 

FURNITURE, FIXTURES & EQUIPMENT (NFIB SUPPORTS)

HB 101: Exempts the first $20,000 of Assessed Value

HB 115: Phases out this tax over 5 years

HB 217: Exempts any item less than $100 in true value

HB 290: Phases out this tax over 10 years

HB 1527: Allows an Income tax credit similar to the current tax credit on inventory taxes, with a 3-year phase in: up to $10,000 credit the first year, $15,000 the second, and up to the amount of the personal property tax on furniture, fixtures & equipment; with a 5-year carry forward.

(NOTE:  All of these House Bills are currently in the House Ways & Means Committee)

 

INVENTORY  (NFIB SUPPORTS)

SB 2080: Phases out this tax over 5 years for Small Businesses with less than $2 Million in annual net revenues.  (In the Senate Finance Committee)

INCOME TAX CREDIT: WELLNESS PROGRAM:

HB 1542 & SB 2999: Income tax; authorize a credit for employers who pay the cost of a qualified wellness program.  Each bill is respectively referred to the House Ways & Means Committee and to the Senate Finance Committee.  (NFIB SUPPORTS)

PASSED on the HOUSE or SENATE FLOOR, as appropriate:

 

HEALTH INSURANCE PREMIUMS

HB 1196: MCHIRPA; require Commissioner of Insurance to make certain approvals if the MS Comprehensive Health Insurance Risk Pool Association ceases operations.  The effect of this bill is to give the Insurance Commissioner ultimate authority to make sure remaining Risk Pool funds (approximately $19 million) will be returned to the insured and not insurance companies.  (HB 1196 Passed House: 112 to 2) (NFIB SUPPORTS)

 

JOBS INCOME TAX CREDIT

HB 175: Income tax; authorize a credit for taxpayers that employ persons convicted of certain nonviolent offenses.  (HB 175 Passed House: 110 to 5) (NFIB SUPPORTS)

 

REDUCING EXCESSIVE REGULATIONS

HB 1241: Employment laws; revise those that may be adopted by a local governmental body.  Also a floor amendment was approved on a voice vote to add an “equal pay” statute and remedy in state courts that tracks the language of the federal statute. (HB 1241 Passed House:  108 to 8) (NFIB SUPPORTS the ORIGINAL BILL, but currently has no firm position on the added “equal pay” provision based on prior Member Balloting)

HB 1122: & SB 2610:  Agricultural operations; exempt from local regulations under certain circumstances. (HB 1122 Passed House:  115 to 0) (SB 2610 died on the Senate Calendar without a vote since the House had already passed a bill) (NFIB SUPPORTS)

HB 1500: Counties and municipalities; prohibit certain regulation of the use, disposition, sale or taxing of disposal plastic bags and certain other containers. (House Passed: 110 to 2; Assigned to Senate Accountability, Efficiency & Transparency/“AET” Committee) (NFIB SUPPORTS)

 

REGULATORY REFORMS

HB 1175 & SB 2526: Occupational licensing boards; require to review rules every 3 years and submit certain summary to Occupational Licensing Review Commission. (HB 1175 Passed House: 109 to 6; Assigned to Senate AET Committee) (SB 2526 Passed Senate: 51 to 0) (NFIB SUPPORTS)

HB 858: Administrative Procedures Act; reduce the effective period for temporary rules adopted under: from current 90 days to 60 days. (HB 858 Passed House:  113 to 0; Assigned to Senate AET Committee) (NFIB SUPPORTS)

 

LIMITING LIABILITY

HB 901 & SB 2918:  Agri-tourism; delete repealer on statutes limiting liability and establishing requirements for professionals engaged in. HB 901 Passed House: 117 to 0) (SB 2918 Passed Senate: 52 to 0) (NFIB SUPPORTS)

HB 1238: Office of Consumer Protection; clarify exclusions of provisions regulating. (HB 1238 Passed House 58 to 54; 9 Absent/Not Voting) (NFIB SUPPORTS)

Background:  In recent years, state AGs have brought a surge of lawsuits under state Consumer Protection laws against businesses.  The theories underlying these lawsuits are often developed by contingency-fee lawyers and pitched to state AGs and occasionally other state or local officials.  State Consumer Protection laws vaguely prohibit any conduct that might be viewed as “unfair” or “deceptive,” do not require a showing of actual deception or loss, and authorize the AG to seek substantial civil penalties.  Any business is a potential mark.  These laws were not intended to provide an alternative means for AGs or other officials to regulate conduct that is already closely supervised by specific state and federal regulatory agencies.  For that reason, about two thirds of these state laws exempt from their scope conduct that is regulated, permitted, approved, or specifically authorized by state and/or federal agencies. HB 1238 seeks such an exemption.  

 

TRANSPORTING TIMBER & CONTAINERIZED GOODS

  1. B. No. 2418: Motor vehicles; increase weight limit tolerance for harvest permit vehicles and vehicles loading and unloading at state ports. This does NOT increase total weight restrictions, but does increase from 5% to now a10% tolerance on any tandem or axle weight of harvest permit vehicles; and the same increase of tolerance above the gross weight, tandem or axle weight of vehicles hauling prepackaged products unloaded or to be loaded at a state port, which are containerized: thus helping reduce the number of required loads and saving businesses money. (SB 2418 PASSED Senate 37 to 11) (NFIB SUPPORTS)

 

BAD for SMALL BUSINESS

 

HEALTH INSURANCE: MANDATE

HB 1198: Health insurance policies; require certain to provide  infertility coverage.  It has a $20,000 cap on coverage, and the mandate is NOT added to the state employee health plan. (HB 1198 PASSED House: 82 to 27, 11 Absent/Not Voting) (NFIB OPPOSES, but suggested the use of small business “mandated offering” language similar to what the Legislature had previously passed in recent autism and mental illness coverage laws.  Our proposed language would, if it had been added, have required our small businesses to only offer such additional coverage if they offered a health insurance plan to employees, but allowing the employer to also require the employee to pay for its costs: thus protecting choice for both the employer and employee.  NFIB will continue its fight against any true mandate on small business which drives up our health insurance costs causing more to be uninsured due to the #1 problem of affordability.) 

OF CONCERN TO SMALL BUSINESS: STILL ALIVE

 

SALES TAX PERMITS:

SB 2746: Sales tax; revise provisions regarding denial/revocation of permit due to unpaid tax liability.  As introduced, it had very overreaching language to allow the MS Dept.of Revenue (DOR) to prevent a new business from receiving a state sales tax permit if any officer, LLC member, partner, or director had  a “finally determined tax liability” owed to them. 

NFIB believes Board members and partners/LLC members who are NOT in a day-to-day financial management position should not be included, and got directors removed from the list. NFIB also got a provision added to give DOR authority to require a bond to cover possible lax liability based on past history in lieu of revoking a permit;  and that tax liability of a prior business would track the partner, LLC member or principal officer only if the tax liability accrued when that person was exercising responsibility for fiscal management in the prior business and is also doing so in the new business seeking a permit. (SB 2746 PASSED Senate:  47 to 4)

(NFIB OPPOSED as Introduced, however the MS Dept. of Revenue agreed to make several changes requested by NFIB, most of which we got in the version as passed the Senate.  NFIB will continue following as the bill now goes through the House process.)

GOOD FOR SMALL BUSINESS: DIED ON THE FLOOR CALENDAR:

 

PUNISHING THEFT

HB 190: Organized retail theft; provide definition of.  Corrects a loophole in current law to ensure a ring of shoplifters can receive a felony conviction for multiple offenses. (HB 190 DIED on the House Calendar without Consideration or a Vote) (NFIB SUPPORTS)

HB 997: Shoplifting; revise penalties for. (HB 997 DIED on the House Calendar without Consideration or a Vote) (NFIB SUPPORTS)
   

SB 2211: Cargo theft; create crime and provide penalties.  Creates the criminal charge of cargo theft for stealing a trailer, etc. with cargo inside. (SB 2211 DIED on Senate Calendar without Consideration or a Vote) (NFIB SUPPORTS)

 

GOOD FOR SMALL BUSINESS: DIED IN COMMITTEE

COMPROMISE/SETTLE TAX LIABILITIES

HB 346, HB 1484 & HB 1486: Department of Revenue; authorize to compromise and settle tax liabilities with taxpayers.  These bills would allow the DOR to do the same as the IRS can do to help finalize a “doubtful claim” tax debt.  They died in the House Ways & Means Committee without action.  (NFIB SUPPORTS)

OF CONCERN to SMALL BUSINESS: DIED ON CALENDAR:

 

DEBT COLLECTION

SB 2608 – Income tax; public hospitals & private nonprofit hospitals may collect certain debts by setoff against debtor’s refund.  The Senate Finance Committee limited the bill to only “public” hospitals, thus taking out the for-profit and non-profit entities.  The bill DIED on the Senate Calendar without further action. (NFIB OPPOSED as Introduced since the bill allowed for-profit and non-profit hospitals to obtain debtor assets ahead of other judgement creditors with a greater priority of claims; however, NFIB worked with Sen. Doty, the bill’s sponsor, and the hospitals in an attempt to amend the bill to meet certain other small business and individual owner asset protections.)

BAD for SMALL BUSINESS:

 

NFIB opposed numerous bills that died in Committee:

creating a state minimum wage

creating a state department of labor

prohibiting employers from obtaining a job applicant’s criminal history

removing the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits

requiring businesses that accept credit cards to have cameras to record persons using cards.

health insurance state mandates

 

Important 2018 Legislative Dates

General Bills’ and Constitutional Amendment Deadlines:

Feb. 27: Deadline for committees to report general bills originating in other house

Mar. 7: Deadline for original floor action on general bills originating in other house

Mar. 22: Deadline to concur/not concur in amendments from other house to general bills

Mar. 26: Deadline for conference reports on general bills to be filed

Mar. 28: Deadline for first consideration of conference reports on general bills

Mar. 30: Deadline for final adoption of conference reports on general bills

Apr.   1: Sine Die  (Session formally ends)

Revenue (Tax) and Appropriations Bill Deadlines:

Feb. 21: Deadline for original floor action on revenue bills originating in own house

Mar.  13: Deadline for original floor action on revenue bills originating in other house

Mar.  16: Deadline to concur/not concur in amendments from other house to revenue bills

Mar.  24: Deadline for conference reports on revenue bills to be filed

Mar.  26: Deadline for final adoption of conference reports on revenue bills

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