2017 Legislative Update

Date: February 16, 2017

 

The first major deadline of the 2017 legislative session for the Mississippi Legislature occurred yesterday on Thursday, February 9, 2017 – Deadline for Floor Action on General Bills in their house. The Legislature now changes its temporary focus to appropriation and revenue bills.  Here’s the status of bills impacting various small businesses, and where applicable our NFIB/MS position.

GOOD for SMALL BUSINESS

Several key bills that are part of our 2017 NFIB/MS Legislative Agenda that are still alive: 

Passed the House (Deadline for Committees to Report General Bills in Other house = 2/28/17):

  • HB 131 – Department of Revenue; authorize to compromise and settle tax liabilities with taxpayers. Passed House 119-0.  (NFIB/MS SUPPORTS)
    • Transmitted to Senate, awaiting assignment to a committee.
    • Although our state constitution does not extinguish a debt to the state, this would for the first time allow the DOR to take a lesser amount as a compromise settlement
  • HB 144 – Department of Revenue; will be liable for costs incurred by taxpayer due to department error in filing a lien against taxpayers.  Passed House 121-0.  (NFIB/MS SUPPORTS)  Transmitted to Senate, awaiting assignment to a committee.
  • HB 481 – Medical expenses; define admissibility during a trial. Passed House 63-56.  (NFIB/MS SUPPORTS)  Transmitted to Senate, awaiting assignment to a committee.
  • HB 528 – Commercial fertilizer distributors; change reporting of net tonnage requirement from quarterly to once annually. Passed House 121-0.  (NFIB/MS SUPPORTS)  Transmitted to Senate, awaiting assignment to a committee.
  • HB 599Vocational education; provide additional funding to school districts demonstrating needed enhancements for. Passed House 116-3.  (NFIB/MS SUPPORTS)
    • Transmitted to Senate, awaiting assignment to a committee.
  • HB 722 – Cargo theft; provide for crime and penalties of. Passed House 109-9.  (NFIB/MS SUPPORTS)
    • Creates the criminal charge of cargo theft for stealing a trailer, etc. with cargo inside
  • HB 743 – Organized retail theft; provide a definition of. Passed House 108-7.  (NFIB/MS SUPPORTS)
    • Corrects a loophole in current law to ensure a ring of shoplifters can receive a felony conviction for multiple offenses.
  • HB 812 – Civil Asset Forfeiture; revise regulations regarding. Passed House 118-3.
    • Transmitted to Senate, awaiting assignment to a committee. (NFIB/MS SUPPORTS IF GREATER PROTECTION IS GIVEN INNOCENT CITIZENS)
  • HB 928 – Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement Act; create. Passed House 117-2.  (NFIB/MS SUPPORTS)
    • Transmitted to Senate, awaiting assignment to a committee.
  • HB1340 – Ad valorem tax; revise certain provisions regarding determination of true values of land used for agricultural purposes. Passed House 116-2.  (NFIB/MS SUPPORTS)

 

Passed the Senate:

  • SB2110 – Franchise agreements; franchisor is not considered to be an employer under unless agrees to be in writing. Passed the Senate 42-9.
    • Transmitted to House, awaiting assignment to a committee.
  • SB2383 – Agriculture; revise reporting date of commercial fertilizer distributed in the state. Passed Senate 51-0.  (NFIB/MS SUPPORTS)
    • Transmitted to House, awaiting committee assignment.
    • Changes from a required quarterly report to an annual one.

 

OF INTEREST to SMALL BUSINESS:

  • HB 480 – Use tax; revise the definition of certain terms for purposes of, distribute to municipalities portion of revenue collected from certain out-of-state sellers. Passed House 76-41.
    • This creates an economic tax nexus for out-of-state companies with no in-state physical nexus as a result of having over $250,000 of online sales from Mississippi; and with such nexus, requires such companies to collect the state’s use tax of 7%.
    • There are significant questions as to the legality of this legislation under federal law.
    • The bill also earmarks all funds collected for state and local government road infrastructure.
  • HB 686 – Income and sales tax; a taxpayer may request revision of tax return or assessment within three years after the due date or assessment date. Passed House 119-0.  Transmitted to Senate, awaiting assignment to a committee.
  • HB1076 – Growth and Prosperity Act; revise certain provisions. Passed House 122-0.  This would allow special zones to be created exempt from various government regulations, etc., similar to how Walt Disney World was set up.
  • HB1106 – Public contracts; require purchasing entities to allow contractors to submit bids electronically.  Passed as Amended 115-1.  (NFIB/MS SUPPORTS)
  • HB1109 – Requests for proposals; provide standards for state agencies to follow regarding. Passed as Amended 101-16.  Requires reverse auction bidding as the primary bidding method.  (NFIB/MS SUPPORTS this opportunity for more small businesses to have an opportunity to compete for state contracts)
  • HB1425 – Occupational Board Compliance Act of 2017; create. Passed House 61-58. 
    • Motion to Table the Motion to Reconsider initially lost, however, a second vote was taken on 2/13/17 and the bill passed.
    • This bill gives the Governor authority to review regulations of occupational boards to keep the state from a possible lawsuit as a result of prior court action finding anti-trust violations without such oversight from an elected official.
    • This bill is to protect our state from lawsuit due to a prior court decision finding that unelected occupational boards composed of members of the occupation creates an anti-trust legal problem, and therefore a need exists for an elected and objective oversight official.
    • NFIB/MS SUPPORTS the concept of elected officials having review oversight over state regulations impacting our small businesses. However, we have not decided on the best method and we’re also looking at the possibility of some form of special joint legislative committee.
  • HB1426 – Asbestos Transparency Trust Act; create. Passed House 73-43.
    • Transmitted to Senate, awaiting assignment to a committee.
    • This bill sets a deadline for bringing these lawsuits that have lingered for years.
  • HB1452 – Local Privilege Tax law; authorize tax collectors to use electronic signatures and storage in connection with. Passed House 122-0.  (NFIB/MS SUPPORTS)
    • Transmitted to Senate, awaiting assignment to a committee.
  • SB2669 – Outdoor advertisement signs; revise height requirement on those erected after April 15, 2008. Passed Senate 48-1.Transmitted to House, awaiting committee assignment.
    • Grandfathers signs erected prior to April 15, 2008, as to height restrictions
  • SB2104 – Income tax; authorize a credit for taxpayers that employ certain supervised offenders (criminal record). Referred to Senate Finance Committee.
  • SB2932 – Ad valorem tax on inventory tax; exempt certain small businesses from. Referred to Senate Finance Committee.  (NFIB/MS SUPPORTS)
    • Phases in over five years a full exemption of inventory tax for businesses with annual net revenue of less than $2 Million.
  • SB2940 – Income tax; authorize a state income tax credit for employers who pay the cost of a qualified wellness program. Referred to Senate Finance Committee.  (NFIB/MS SUPPORTS)
  • SB3019 – Ad valorem taxation; exempt certain personal property that produces tax revenue of $100.00 or less. Referred to Senate Finance Committee. 
    • Would exempt a business from personal property tax on furniture, fixtures, equipment and inventory if they would owe $100 or less in taxes.

 

FEDERAL BALANCED BUDGET CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT Resolutions

  • NFIB/MS SUPPORTS: a Resolution to join 27 other states who have already passed a resolution for a Balanced Budget Amendment based on a U.S. Constitution Article V Convention, in hopes of getting the 34 states needed to accomplish same.
  • HC 22 – U.S. Congress; urge to hold a constitutional convention of states to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government.  Referred to Rules Committee.
  • SC 534United States Constitutional Amendment Convention of the States under Article V; apply for certain restraints on federal government. Double-Referred to Rules & Constitution Committees.
  • SC 546 – United States Constitutional Convention under Article V; apply for federal debt consideration. Referred to Rules Committee.
  • SC 547 Urge Congress to call Constitutional Convention to limit campaign spending. Referred to Rules Committee. 
  • SC 549 – United States Constitutional Convention under Article V; apply for federal balanced budget consideration. Referred to Rules Committee.  (NFIB/MS SUPPORTS this resolution based on its being limited to a Balanced Budget Amendment Convention under Article V of the U.S. Constitution)
  • SC 551 – United States Constitutional Convention under Article V; apply for federal debt limitation and congressional term limits. Referred to Rules Committee.

 

OF CONCERN to SMALL BUSINESS:

  • HB 687 – Income tax; public community and junior colleges may collect debt by a set off against a debtor’s refund. Passed House 104-14.  (NFIB/MS OPPOSES) 
  • HB 753 – Nancy’s Law; create to provide remedies for investigation of vulnerable person abuse. Passed House 119-1 after being amended to include “Noah’s Law” which has been legislation the past two years of significant concern to NFIB/MS related to restricting the sale of certain caffeine products; however, the amendment was the same as previously written by NFIB/MS.  (NFIB/MS SUPPORTS the NOAH’S LAW AMENDMENT as passed the House)
  • Noah’s Law; create.
    • The approved Amendment used NFIB/MS’ language from last year to restrict its applicability to the prohibited sale of pure powdered caffeine with exceptions, and to restrict any local ordinances from placing severe restrictions and possible penalties on businesses selling certain caffeine products based on a totally unworkable standard.
    • Approximately 14 local governments in Mississippi have passed a local ordinance placing severe restrictions and possible penalties on businesses selling certain caffeine products based on a totally unworkable standard. These were patterned after the original proposed and poorly written “Noah’s Law” legislation.
  • HB1062 -Military officers and employees; grant leave of absence from civil occupations in public or private business. Passed House 121-0:
    • NFIB/MS requested the bill’s author to amend the bill to mirror its requirements and exemptions to the federal USERRA law — Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act. The bill was inadequately amended to do that and therefore needs to be accurately amended in the Senate.
    • The bill still has more stringent requirements on an employer than the U.S. Employment & Reemployment Rights Act and therefore subjects our employers to two different laws that don’t coincide.
  • HB1101 & SB2402 – Energy services providers; revise laws regarding the procedure for public contracts. HB 1101 Passed House 121-0; SB 2402 Passed Senate 52-0.
    • Transmitted respectively to Senate and House, awaiting committee assignments.
  • SB2229 – Branded title; may be issued to a vehicle that has been issued a certificate of destruction if certain criteria are met.  Passed Senate 44-8.
    • Transmitted to House, awaiting committee assignment
  • SB2249 – Expedited small claims; provide judicial proceeding. Passed Senate 51-0.
    • Transmitted to House, awaiting committee assignment. (NFIB/MS OPPOSES the requirements in this bill, however, SUPPORTS the concept of expedited claims)
  • SB2445 – Department of Revenue; authorize data match system to identify assets of obligors of the state held by financial institutions. Passed Senate 50-0.
    • Transmitted to House, awaiting committee assignment.
    • This authorizes banks and other financial institutions to voluntarily allow the DOR to access their accounts for verifying taxpayers assets for possible garnishment by the state for the payment of a tax liability.

 

RECOMMITTED to Committee on House Floor & DIED:

  • HB 689Fuel tax; increase maximum amount of bond that is required to be posted by distributors of gasoline and special fuel. Recommitted to House Ways & Means Committee and Died without action. (NFIB/MS OPPOSED)
    • This would have raised the amount of surety bond required from the current maximum of $250,000 to a maximum of $1 Million.
  • HB 699Department of Revenue (DOR); authorize to disclose certain taxpayer information to law enforcement entities. Recommitted to House Ways & Means Committee and Died without action.(NFIB/MS OPPOSED)
    • Currently, DOR cannot release taxpayer info without a court order; this bill would have allowed DOR to do so based on its own regulations.
  • HB 959 – Commissioner of Revenue; authorize to appoint an attorney on his staff to prosecute crimes investigated by the Dept. of Revenue. Recommitted to House Ways & Means Committee and Died without action.  (NFIB/MS OPPOSED)

 

DIED on Floor without action:

  • SB2302 – “Ban the box;” facilitate post-incarceration employment opportunities for nonviolent felons. Died on Senate Calendar.  (NFIB/MS OPPOSED)
    • the “Ban the Box” Section 2 of the bill would have kept employers from asking a job applicant about their criminal background prior to a face-to-face interview.
  • HB1329 – Mississippi Children’s Cabinet; establish to coordinate services for children. Died on House Calendar without action.  (NFIB/MS OPPOSED the provision in the bill which did away with the Child Care Advisory Council at the MS Dept. of Health.  This Council is the only voice private child care providers have with ongoing regulations.)

 

DIED in Committee without action:

  • HB 803 – Administrative Procedures Act; revise to allow small businesses to streamline adjudicatory proceedings. Died in House Judiciary A Committee without action.  (NFIB/MS SUPPORTED)
  • HB1313 – Sales tax; revise type of information used by Commissioner of Revenue when assessing tax liability in certain cases. Died in House Ways & Means Committee without action. (NFIB/MS SUPPORTED)
    • An NFIB/MS requested bill to change the standard of evidence used by the Dept. of Revenue (DOR) in sales tax audits/billing from “any” evidence to “best” evidence.
    • DOR has used even Facebook posts and newspaper articles to determine liability
  • HB 676 – Licenses; may be suspended if licensee is delinquent in paying a finally determined tax liability.  Died in House Judiciary A Committee without action. (NFIB/MS OPPOSED).
  • HB 702 – Taxation; persons with certain ownership interests in corporations or LLCs are liable for taxes due from the corporation or LLC.  Died in House Ways & Means Committee without action.  (NFIB/MS OPPOSED)

 

BAD for SMALL BUSINESS:

  • NFIB/MS 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.
    • giving private hospitals greater right to collect debts above others
    • authorizing the sale of wine at grocery stores in unfair competition with current individually licensed and owned state alcohol stores.
    • health insurance state mandates

 

NFIB-MS’ Lobbyist is ready to assist you

Contact your lobbyist Ron Aldridge with any questions about these or any issue of concern at [email protected], or call 601-201-1323. 

Related Content: Small Business News | Mississippi

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