2007 Legislative Votes and Summary of Key Bills

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State Budget Rebuilding & Related Issues
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State Budget

HB 238 Allocates more than $2.2 billion from the General Fund and more than $1 billion from “special funds” for K-12 education funding. Special funds include federal funds, 14% of the state’s sales tax revenues, and other sources. This does not include local funding, which will add another $1 billion to K-12 spending. [Passed House 119-1]. On January 2, the first day of the 2007 legislative session, members of the Legislative Conservative Coalition of the House of Representatives blocked an effort by the House leadership to cast immediate votes on eight significant pieces of legislation, including this measure. Their complaint was that the bills altogether appropriated more than 60% of the state’s general fund and that they didn’t have time to read these bills before casting their votes. The House leadership failed to get the two-thirds vote necessary to suspend the rules and allow for an immediate vote on this measure [77 voted to suspend the rules and 40 voted against suspending the rules]. On February 13, HB 238 passed the Senate by a vote of 52-0. The Senate version includes a 3% pay raise for teachers, more funding for teachers’ health insurance and retirement benefits, pay raises for all state education employees, and would fund mentoring, dropout prevention, and dyslexia screening programs. The Senate unanimously adopted the conference report, and the House adopted it by a vote of 120-1. HB 238 was approved by the Governor on April 17.

HB 239 Increases teacher pay by 3%, increases the number of school nurses eligible for a salary supplement, increases the minimum salary of assistant teachers, and authorizes school districts to use local funds to pay the full cost of health insurance premiums for retired members of the public employees’ retirement system who are employed as bus drivers. [Passed House 120-0]. On January 2, the first day of the 2007 legislative session, members of the Legislative Conservative Coalition of the House of Representatives blocked an effort by the House leadership to cast immediate votes on eight significant pieces of legislation, including this measure. Their complaint was that the bills altogether appropriated more than 60% of the state’s general fund and that they didn’t have time to read these bills before casting their votes. The House leadership failed to get the two-thirds vote necessary to suspend the rules and allow for an immediate vote on this measure [74 voted to suspend the rules and 39 voted against suspending the rules]. The bill died in committee in the Senate, but its language has been incorporated into SB 2323 (see below).

HB 240 Increases state employees’ salaries at least $1,500 a year or realigns their salaries to the regional average, whichever is greater. Law enforcement officers of the Department of Public Safety and the Bureau of Narcotics will receive a $3,000 raise. [Passed House 120-0]. On January 2, the first day of the 2007 legislative session, members of the Legislative Conservative Coalition of the House of Representatives blocked an effort by the House leadership to cast immediate votes on eight significant pieces of legislation, including this measure. Their complaint was that the bills altogether appropriated more than 60% of the state’s general fund and that they didn’t have time to read these bills before casting their votes. The House leadership failed to get the two-thirds vote necessary to suspend the rules and allow for an immediate vote on this measure [73 voted to suspend the rules and 43 voted against suspending the rules]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 241 Increases funding to institutions of higher learning by $24.1 million and provides a 5% pay hike for faculty and staff. [Passed House 118-0]. On January 2, the first day of the 2007 legislative session, members of the Legislative Conservative Coalition of the House of Representatives blocked an effort by the House leadership to cast immediate votes on eight significant pieces of legislation, including this measure. Their complaint was that the bills altogether appropriated more than 60% of the state’s general fund and that they didn’t have time to read these bills before casting their votes. The House leadership failed to get the two-thirds vote necessary to suspend the rules and allow for an immediate vote on this measure [68 voted to suspend the rules and 44 voted against suspending the rules]. The bill died in committee in the Senate. But see SB 3129 for general appropriation to the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning for support of 8 universities for fiscal year 2008.

HB 242 Increases funding to junior and community colleges by $42 million and provides a 5% pay increase for faculty and staff. [Passed House 118-0]. On January 2, the first day of the 2007 legislative session, members of the Legislative Conservative Coalition of the House of Representatives blocked an effort by the House leadership to cast immediate votes on eight significant pieces of legislation, including this measure. Their complaint was that the bills altogether appropriated more than 60% of the state’s general fund and that they didn’t have time to read these bills before casting their votes. The House leadership failed to get the two-thirds vote necessary to suspend the rules and allow for an immediate vote on this measure [71 voted to suspend the rules and 42 voted against suspending the rules]. The bill died in committee in the Senate. But see SB 3130 and SB 3131 for appropriations to junior and community colleges.

HB 244 Provides $5 million for highway patrol trooper training class. [Passed House 116-2]. On January 2, the first day of the 2007 legislative session, members of the Legislative Conservative Coalition of the House of Representatives blocked an effort by the House leadership to cast immediate votes on eight significant pieces of legislation, including this measure. Their complaint was that the bills altogether appropriated more than 60% of the state’s general fund and that they didn’t have time to read these bills before casting their votes. The House leadership failed to get the two-thirds vote necessary to suspend the rules and allow for an immediate vote on this measure [71 voted to suspend the rules and 43 voted against suspending the rules]. The bill died in committee in the Senate. A similar bill, SB 3093, passed the Senate but died in committee in the House.

HB 245 Allocates $21.2 million to “fully fund” the state’s seven mental health crisis. [Passed House 116-3]. On January 2, the first day of the 2007 legislative session, members of the Legislative Conservative Coalition of the House of Representatives blocked an effort by the House leadership to cast immediate votes on eight significant pieces of legislation, including this measure. Their complaint was that the bills altogether appropriated more than 60% of the state’s general fund and that they didn’t have time to read these bills before casting their votes. The House leadership failed to get the two-thirds vote necessary to suspend the rules and allow for an immediate vote on this measure [74 voted to suspend the rules and 42 voted against suspending the rules]. The bill died in committee in the Senate. But SB 3147, a bill which provides the same effect, passed both House and Senate, and was approved by the Governor on April 25.

HB 295 Authorizes the issuance of state general obligation bonds in the amount of $20 million to provide funds to counties and municipalities for economic development [Passed House 118-1]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 731 Provides $2 million to the city of Jackson for fiscal year 2008 to assist the city in defraying the ad valorem tax loss sustained by the city as a result of state ownership of property in the city, and to defray the increased infrastructure and public safety costs incurred by the city as a result of being the seat of state government. [Passed House 86-34]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 790 Authorizes the issuance of $50 million for the purpose of constructing a Civil Rights Museum in Jackson. [Passed House 117-3]. The bill died in committee in the Senate. However, HB 1743, which passed the House 73-45, initially provided for the issuance of $50 million in general obligation bonds for the construction of the museum. The Senate passed an amended version of HB 1743 which lowered the amount to $500,000 with additional funding to come from private sources [Passed Senate as Amended 48-4]. The bill ultimately died in conference committee.

HB 820 Provides that for fiscal year 2009 and thereafter, an annual increase in the amount of $10 million from the state’s share of oil and gas severance tax is to be deposited into the state’s Education Improvement Trust Fund. The annual increase is to continue until all of the state’s share of the severance tax is deposited into the fund. [Passed House 87-33]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 1681 Allocates almost $29 million in funding to the Office of the Attorney General. [Conference Report Passed House 120-0]; [Conference Report Passed Senate 52-0]. The Governor partially vetoed this bill to prevent $5.5 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) from going to the Attorney General’s office for the benefit of Boys and Girls Clubs and the YMCA (note that HB 1681 continues to provide an additional $1 million for such groups). Instead, the $5.5 million in TANF funds will go to the Department of Human Services for social service programs. [Veto Message]. See also HB 1689, which the Governor also partially vetoed in order keep the $5.5 million in TANF funds within the appropriations to the Department of Human Services, rather than diverting such funds to the Attorney General’s Office. [Veto Message].

HB 1743 Authorizes the issuance of bonds totaling more than $500 million for various projects, including a football stadium for Jackson State University, repairs to Columbia and Oakley training schools, improvements at certain state hospitals, and improvements to the state capitol. [Passed House 73-45]; [Passed Senate as Amended 48-4]. The bill is one of the largest borrowing measures to pass a chamber of the Legislature in recent memory. The bill ultimately died in conference committee.

SB 2323 Provides a 3% across-the-board teacher pay raise and a $500 raise for assistant teachers. The bill also clarifies that teachers employed by state agencies and licensed as speech pathologists/audiologists are eligible for the salary supplement. [Passed Senate 52-0]. The House passed an amended version of the bill which also authorizes local school districts to pay the full cost of health insurance premiums for retired members of the public employees’ retirement system who are employed as school bus drivers. [Passed House as Amended 119-0]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report, and the Governor approved the bill on April 17.

SB 2364 Establishes a mid-level funding formula for state public community and junior colleges. The Community College Mid-Level funding calculation is based on the average per student level of state funds for K-12 and Higher Education. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 118-0]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report, and the Governor approved the bill on April 21.

SB 2477 Provides that state funding to youth court judges will be contingent upon compliance with annual training requirements. The bill also increases the support staff allowance for trial court judges. [Passed Senate 52-0]. The House passed an amended version of the bill that establishes the Youth Court Support Fund to ensure sufficient funds for the court’s operation and includes court judges among those for are eligible for an office allowance. [Passed House as Amended 119-0]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report, and the Governor approved the bill on April 20.

SB 2496 Provides funding to the Mississippi Department of Health, including $1.27 million to the for the purpose of providing 51 school health nurses. [Passed Senate 51-0]; [Passed House as Amended 118-0]. The Governor partially vetoed this bill, questioning the justification and fiscal responsibility of the $2 million deficit appropriation to defray expenses of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health. [Veto Message].

SB 2497 Authorizes the Mississippi Development Authority to provide loans to counties and municipalities under the existing Industry Productivity Loan Program to assist certain industries in deploying long-term fixed assets that will improve productivity and competitiveness. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 117-0]. The bill ultimately died in conference committee.

SB 2547 Provides for an increase in the salaries of the elected judiciary. An amendment was also added to require a study be conducted regarding the needs of the state judiciary for emergency and disaster response. [Passed Senate 52-0]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2777 Allows FY07 funds ($40 million) deposited from the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi into the Health Care Trust Fund to be transferred to the Health Care Expendable Fund for FY08 appropriation, delaying the repayment of HCTF for one year. The bill also directs the State Fiscal Officer to transfer a certain amount to the Budget Contingency Fund from the State General Fund during fiscal year 2008 and authorizes transfer of funds from the special fund pool to the state board of optometry and the veterans’ home purchase board to offset temporary cash flow deficiencies. [Passed Senate 51-0]. The House passed an amended version of the bill that establishes the Tobacco Control Commission Fund and to provide that the annual $20 million transfer be deposited into that fund. [Passed House as Amended 114-3]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report, and the Governor approved the bill on April 20.

SB 2985 Delays until 2008 the sales tax diversion that is to be deposited into the special funds transfer fund for the repayment of borrowed funds. [Passed Senate 51-0]. The House amended the bill to delete the provision for the diversion of certain sales tax revenues to the special funds transfer fund and required that the legislature appropriate sufficient funds to repay the tort claims fund for the amount that was transferred to the budget contingency fund in 2003. [Passed House 108-8]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report, and the Governor approved the bill on April 20.

SB 3212, SB 3213, SB 3214, SB 3215 SB 3212 authorizes Lee, Pontotoc, and Union counties to participate with Three Rivers Planning and Development District, Inc. for the purposes of assisting the district in economic development. The bill also authorizes the board of supervisors of the three counties to levy a special ad valorem tax. SB 3213 authorizes Lee, Pontotoc, and Union counties to issue general obligation bonds in order to finance the acquisition of real property for the economic development project. SB 3214 authorizes the City of Tupelo to issue additional bonds for water facilities necessary to serve the “Wellspring Project.” SB 3215 authorizes the incentive package for the Toyota Automotive Manufacturing plant. Each of these bills was unanimously passed by the Senate and House, and approved by the Governor on March 2.

Education

HB 238 Allocates more than $2.2 billion from the General Fund and more than $1 billion from “special funds” for K-12 education funding. Special funds include federal funds, 14% of the state’s sales tax revenues, and other sources. This does not include local funding, which will add another $1 billion to K-12 spending. [Passed House 119-1]. On January 2, the first day of the 2007 legislative session, members of the Legislative Conservative Coalition of the House of Representatives blocked an effort by the House leadership to cast immediate votes on eight significant pieces of legislation, including this measure. Their complaint was that the bills altogether appropriated more than 60% of the state’s general fund and that they didn’t have time to read these bills before casting their votes. The House leadership failed to get the two-thirds vote necessary to suspend the rules and allow for an immediate vote on this measure [77 voted to suspend the rules and 40 voted against suspending the rules]. On February 13, HB 238 passed the Senate by a vote of 52-0. The Senate version includes a 3% pay raise for teachers, more funding for teachers’ health insurance and retirement benefits, pay raises for all state education employees, and would fund mentoring, dropout prevention, and dyslexia screening programs. The Senate unanimously adopted the conference report, and the House adopted it by a vote of 120-1. HB 238 was approved by the Governor on April 17.

HB 241 Increases funding to institutions of higher learning by $24.1 million and provides a 5% pay hike for faculty and staff. [Passed House 118-0]. On January 2, the first day of the 2007 legislative session, members of the Legislative Conservative Coalition of the House of Representatives blocked an effort by the House leadership to cast immediate votes on eight significant pieces of legislation, including this measure. Their complaint was that the bills altogether appropriated more than 60% of the state’s general fund and that they didn’t have time to read these bills before casting their votes. The House leadership failed to get the two-thirds vote necessary to suspend the rules and allow for an immediate vote on this measure [68 voted to suspend the rules and 44 voted against suspending the rules]. The bill died in committee in the Senate. But see SB 3129 for general appropriation to the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning for support of 8 universities for fiscal year 2008.

HB 242 Increases funding to junior and community colleges by $42 million and provides a 5% pay increase for faculty and staff. [Passed House 118-0]. On January 2, the first day of the 2007 legislative session, members of the Legislative Conservative Coalition of the House of Representatives blocked an effort by the House leadership to cast immediate votes on eight significant pieces of legislation, including this measure. Their complaint was that the bills altogether appropriated more than 60% of the state’s general fund and that they didn’t have time to read these bills before casting their votes. The House leadership failed to get the two-thirds vote necessary to suspend the rules and allow for an immediate vote on this measure [71 voted to suspend the rules and 42 voted against suspending the rules]. The bill died in committee in the Senate. But see SB 3130 and SB 3131 for appropriations to junior and community colleges.

HB 251 Provides that a student may attend a school in a different school district if his or her parent or legal guardian is purchasing a residence in the other district within 4 months of the beginning of the school year. [Passed House 118-1]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 334 Authorizes the enrollment in kindergarten and first grade of certain children who have attained the minimum age requirements for public school enrollment when such children are placed in custody in Mississippi due to the military deployment of their parents. [Passed House 119-1]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 475 Establishes a scholarship program for family protection workers who are employed by the Department of Human services to obtain the college education necessary to become licensed as social workers and become family protection specialists for the department. In exchange for such scholarships, students commit to serve not less than 3 years with the Department of Human Services. [Passed House 117-2]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The Senate unanimously adopted the conference report and the House adopted it by a vote of 120-2. HB 475 was approved by the Governor on April 18.

HB 617 Gives the Adjutant General authority to authorize state educational assistance programs for room and board for any qualified active member of the Mississippi National Guard enrolled in an accredited institution of higher learning, vocational education school or community/junior college. Eligibility for tuition and/or room and board grant is limited to 10 years after date of first tuition payment. [Passed House 120-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The House and Senate unanimously adopted the conference report, and the Governor approved the bill on April 21.

HB 641 Authorizes state institutions of higher learning and junior colleges to offer gaming related courses, but prohibits regulation of such courses by the MS Gaming Commission. [Passed House 65-43]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 732 Titled the “Mississippi Healthy Students Act,” the bill requires more physical and health education in schools. Some of the requirements include: (1) annual testing of a child’s body mass index in order to measure obesity; (2) at least 30 minutes of daily exercise and a weekly 45-minute health lesson; (3) use of oils without trans fat and reduction of sugar and sodium in cafeteria food; (4) prohibition of fast food for teachers during breakfast or lunch; and (5) the eventual elimination of fried foods by prohibiting schools from buying new fryers in 2008. [Passed House 79-41]. The bill died in committee in the Senate. However, the language of HB 732 was incorporated into SB 2369.

HB 833 Requires every school district to distribute to students a copy of the district’s financial hardship waiver policy, under which fees charged by the school district are waived for students who are unable to pay the fees, at time of enrollment. The bill also requires school districts to grant a financial hardship waiver to any family who qualifies for the National School Lunch Program. [Passed House 118-0]; [Passed Senate 51-0]. The bill was approved by the Governor on March 15.

HB 834 Authorizes the State Department of Education to design curriculum choices, within the current requirements for a high school diploma, for students who are interested in direct entry into the workforce immediately following high school graduation. Fifteen locations would be selected across the state to participate in a pilot program for this proposal. [Passed House 103-11]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 864 Provides for the waiver of tuition and fees at state colleges and universities for the children and spouses of deceased or disabled veterans. [Passed House 119-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 984 Increases the number of occasions in which a student must participate in disruptive behavior to be deemed “habitually disruptive” [Passed House 76-41]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 1058 Adds dyspraxia (partial loss of the ability to coordinate and perform certain purposeful movements and gestures in the absence of motor or sensory impairments) to the definition of “related disorders” as used in connection with testing students for dyslexia and “related disorders.” The bill also requires the State Department of Education to select early literacy and numeracy screening assessment instruments to be used by all school districts in screening students kindergarten through third grade. [Passed House 118-0]; [Passed Senate 51-0]. The bill was approved by the Governor on March 15.

HB 1084 Requires the State Board of Education to evaluate and recommend the inclusion of graduation rate and dropout rate in the school level accountability system. [Passed House 119-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 1132 Provides for the Mary Kirkpatrick Haskell-Mary Sprayberry Public School Nurse Act of 2007 to be administered by the Department of Education through the Office of Healthy Schools, which will be responsible for the administration and supervision of the school nurse program. The bill also requires the department to develop standards, procedures and criteria for school nurse programs in kindergarten through Grade 12, and specifies duties of nurses in this program. [Passed House 120-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report, and the Governor approved the bill on April 21.

HB 1144 Requires aliens of foreign countries to pay out-of-state tuition at state universities and colleges, regardless of their place of domicile or immigration status. [Passed House 84-33]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 1180 Provides a formula for the calculation of mid-level funding for community and junior colleges and requires the Legislature to appropriate that amount. [Passed House 118-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate. However, SB 2364, which provides the same effect, [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 118-0]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report, and the Governor approved the bill on April 21.

HB 1463 Grants the State Board of Education discretion in determining whether or not to abolish an impaired school district that is under a declared state of emergency due to serious violations of accreditation standards or law. The bill also authorizes the State Board of Education to take actions leading to the recall of superintendents and school board members for school districts under a declared state of emergency. [Passed House 97-17]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 1465 Establishes the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholars Program for the purpose of recruiting qualified college students to practice medicine in rural areas. The program will be administered by the newly created Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Commission, housed in the School of Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). [Passed House 118-1]; [Passed Senate as Amended 48-3]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report, and the Governor approved the bill on April 20.

SB 2323 Provides a 3% across-the-board teacher pay raise and a $500 raise for assistant teachers. The bill also clarifies that teachers employed by state agencies and licensed as speech pathologists/audiologists are eligible for the salary supplement. [Passed Senate 52-0]. The House passed an amended version of the bill which also authorizes local school districts to pay the full cost of health insurance premiums for retired members of the public employees’ retirement system who are employed as school bus drivers. [Passed House as Amended 119-0]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report, and the Governor approved the bill on April 17.

SB 2338 Authorizes the State Board of Education to provide guidelines for alternative school programs that give broad authority to local school boards to establish alternative school programs that meet the specific needs of the school district. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House 116-2]. Approved by the Governor on March 13.

SB 2345 Authorizes the State Board of Education to develop and pilot a program to redesign secondary schools in Mississippi to function as curriculum and educational entities as well as workforce development centers. Contingent upon appropriations, a minimum of 15 sites will be selected for implementation during the 2007-08 school year. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House 117-1]. Following a motion to reconsider, the House amendment which provided a repealer on the bill for July 1, 2012 [Passed House as Amended 118-0]. The Senate then concurred with the House amendment by a vote of 51-1, and the Governor approved the bill on March 30.

SB 2364 Establishes a mid-level funding formula for state public community and junior colleges. The Community College Mid-Level funding calculation is based on the average per student level of state funds for K-12 and Higher Education. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 118-0]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report, and the Governor approved the bill on April 21.

SB 2369 Creates the Mississippi Healthy Students Act. For the 2008-09 school year, the bill requires each week in grades K-8 a minimum of 150 minutes of activity-based instruction and a minimum of 45 minutes of health education instruction, and a 1/2 Carnegie unit in physical education in Grades 9-12, for graduation. The bill also requires the school wellness plan to promote increased physical activity, healthy eating habits, and abstinence from tobacco and illegal drugs through programs that incorporate healthy lifestyle choices into core subject areas. [Passed Senate 52-0]. The House further amended the bill to substantially include the language of HB 732. [Passed House as Amended 80-39]. The House adopted the conference report by a vote of 101-19, and the Senate by a vote of 51-1. Approved by the Governor on April 11.

SB 2667 Establishes the Early Learning Collaborative Act of 2007 which authorizes the Department of Human Services to implement a voluntary early child care and education grant program which shall be a collaboration among the entities providing prekindergarten programs. The bill requires enrollment in the preschool or prekindergarten program to be coordinated with the Head Start agencies in the local areas and to not cause a reduction in children served by the Head Start program. The bill also requires the Department of Education, in partnership with the Department of Human Services, to develop the educational criteria regarding research-based curriculum, the state’s early learning guidelines, and developmentally appropriate educational services. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [House Passed as Amended 118-0]. The Senate unanimously concurred with the House amendment, and the Governor approved the bill on March 22.

SB 2769 Authorizes universities to participate in group purchasing programs. [Passed Senate 52-0]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 3015 Expands the jurisdiction of law enforcement officers employed by certain state universities or public community/junior colleges to include the area within 500 feet of university or college property. Peace officers duly employed by Jackson State University and the University of Southern Mississippi are also vested with powers and subjected to duties of a constable for the purpose of preventing all violations of law that occur within 500 feet of university property, if reasonably determined to have impact on the safety of students, faculty, and staff, subject to authorization by the university. [Passed Senate 51-0]; [Passed House as Amended 118-0]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report, and the Governor approved the bill on April 21.

SB 3024 Authorizes the University of Mississippi Medical Center to create a Center of Excellence to provide care for abused and neglected children at the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children in Jackson. The bill creates a child abuse referral and examination (CARE) clinic fund for the transfer of funds returned to the state by the Mississippi Children’s Justice Center to be appropriated by the legislature. [Passed Senate 52-0]. The House passed an amended version of the bill that requires the Center work in collaboration with the Office of the Attorney General, the Mississippi Department of Human Services, and other such state agencies and entities that provide services to children. [Passed House as Amended 122-0]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report, and the Governor approved the bill on April 20.

Taxes

HB 41 Provides that amounts received by an individual which may be excluded from income as foreign earned income for federal tax purposes are also excluded from the meaning of “gross income” for purposes of state tax law. [Passed House 106-8]; [Passed Senate 52-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 26.

HB 247 Raises the excise tax on cigarettes from 18 cents per pack to $1 per pack, and also cuts the grocery tax from 7% to 3.5%. [Passed House 91-27]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 471 Conforms state income tax law with federal law regarding the period for nonrecognition of gain on the replacement of damaged property in the Hurricane Katrina disaster area, as provided in the Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act of 2005. [Passed House 119-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate. However, the Senate added the language of HB 471 as an amendment to HB 1585 (see below), which passed both Houses, and was approved by the Governor on March 27.

HB 683 Removes the repealer on the sections of law which establish the Mississippi Military Family Relief Fund and Tax Checkoff Program. [Passed House 118-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 48-0]. The House then unanimously concurred with the Senate’s version of the bill. Approved by the Governor on March 26.

HB 963 Following proper notice, increases the time within which the Chairman of the State Tax Commission must demand payment of sales tax and damages assessed for failure to file a sales tax return, and the time within which a taxpayer may pay the tax in lieu of such assessment. [Passed House 118-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate. But see SB 2414, the identical Senate version, which [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House 117-0]. SB 2414 was approved by the Governor on March 15.

HB 1024 Provides that if a business enterprise is located in a declared disaster area and is unable to use the exemption from state taxes authorized under the Growth and Prosperity Act (as a direct result of the disaster), the Mississippi Development Authority may extend the duration of the state tax exemption for not more than 2 years or until December 31, 2020, whichever occurs first. The bill also provides that any business enterprise that has property or equipment purchased using the state sales and use tax exemption may purchase replacement equipment and component building materials exempt from sales and use tax. [Passed House 120-0]; [Passed Senate 52-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 26.

HB 1044 Provides that if an integrated supplier is located in a declared disaster area and is unable to maintain the required number of employees (as a direct result of the disaster), the Chairman of the State Tax Commission may extend the time period for the credit for not more than 2 years, and may waive the employment requirement for a period not to exceed 2 years. The Chairman may also extend the period that such a credit may be carried forward for a period not to exceed 2 years. [Passed House 116-0]; [Passed Senate 52-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 26.

HB 1045 Provides that if a permanent business enterprise is located in a declared disaster area and is unable to maintain the required number of employees (as a direct result of the disaster), the Chairman of the State Tax Commission may extend the time period for the credit for not more than 2 years, and may waive the employment requirement for a period not to exceed 2 years. The Chairman may also extend the period that such a credit may be carried forward for a period not to exceed 2 years. [Passed House 119-0]; [Passed Senate 52-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 26.

HB 1056 Authorizes a refund of gasoline and motor fuel taxes erroneously or illegally collected from certain distributors of gasoline and other persons, between December 2002 and June 2003 in a state other than Mississippi. The total amount that may be refunded under the bill cannot exceed $160,000 in the aggregate, and the provision authorizing the refund will be repealed from and after October 1, 2007. [Passed House 119-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 51-0]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report, and the Governor approved the bill on March 18.

HB 1409 Imposes a fee on those cigarette manufacturers that were not part of the state’s tobacco settlement. [Passed House 92-28]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 1563 Provides that the net casualty loss deductions may be carried back more than three years if the Internal Revenue Code provides otherwise. The bill also provides that where the reportable taxable income of a taxpayer has been decreased by the carryback of a net casualty loss deduction or net operating loss deduction, the 3 year examination period for state income tax returns will not apply insofar as the state income tax liability is affected by the carryback of the applicable deduction. [Passed House 117-0]; [Passed Senate 52-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 26.

HB 1585 Provides that no gain or loss will be recognized for state income tax purposes on an exchange of property held for productive use or investment if no gain or loss is recognized on such exchange under Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code. Additionally, no gain will be recognized for state income tax purposes on property that is compulsorily or involuntarily converted if no gain is recognized with regard to such property under 1033 of the Internal Revenue Code [Passed House 118-0]. The Senate passed an amended version of the bill that conformed state income tax law with federal law regarding the time period for nonrecognition of gain on the replacement of destroyed property in the Hurricane Katrina disaster area, as defined in the Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act of 2005. [Passed Senate as Amended 52-0]. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate’s amendment, and the Governor approved the bill on March 27.

HB 1612 Exempts from sales taxation, the retail sales of certain articles of clothing under $100 during the last weekend in July. [Passed House 119-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 1708 Exempts from sales taxation, the sale of nonperishable food items when purchased by charitable organizations whose primary purpose is the operation of a food bank or food pantry. [Passed House 120-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 1714 Exempts from sales taxation, the sales of tangible personal property or services to nonprofit organizations that operate long-term care facilities solely for adults with mental retardation, if the organization is exempt from federal income taxation as a 501(c)(3) organization. [Passed House 120-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate. See also SB 3105 which [Passed Senate 52-0], but died on the Senate calendar after a motion to reconsider was entered.

HB 1727 Authorizes a state income tax credit and an insurance premium tax credit for taxpayers that make certain investments that qualify for a federal income new markets tax credit. [Passed House 119-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-2]. The Senate and House both unanimously adopted the conference report, and the Governor approved the bill on April 18.

HB 1747 Creates a new annual privilege license tax to be imposed for a package retailer’s special permit to conduct wine tasting or sampling events, and allows the holder of such a permit to offer and serve limited amounts of wine at no cost to the consumers. [Passed House 73-38]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

SB 2054 Expands the definition of “home” or “homestead” within the homestead exemption laws to include the portion of a building listed on the national register of historic places that is used solely for the residence of a family when the building is owned by the head of the family and not more than 10 rooms are rented to transient guests. [Passed Senate 51-0]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2337 Authorizes an income tax credit equal to 25% of the premium costs paid during the taxable year for a qualified long-term care insurance policy that offers coverage to either the individual, the individual’s spouse, the parent or parent-in-law, or dependent. The credit cannot exceed $500 or the taxpayer’s income tax liability, whichever is less, and any unused tax credit cannot be carried forward to apply to the succeeding year’s tax liability. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House 117-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 15.

SB 2365 Increases the penalty for grossly negligent preparation of an income tax return by a preparer, and clarifies the actions considered to be grossly negligent. [Passed Senate 52-0]. The bill died in committee in the House. But see HB 1104 which passed both Houses, and was approved by the Governor on March 15.

SB 2371 Clarifies fuel tax law with regard to biodiesel and biofuel. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 119-1]. The bill ultimately died in conference committee.

SB 2399 Requires employers to withhold 5% of the amount paid to an individual if the compensation is reported on form 1099, and the individual has failed to provide a taxpayer identification number or has provided an Internal Revenue Service issued taxpayer identification number issued for nonresident aliens. [Passed Senate 51-0]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2404 Increases to $50,000 the average tax liability that requires early payment of withholding, sales & use tax liability. [Passed Senate 51-0]; [Passed House as Amended 119-0]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report, and the Governor approved the bill on April 18.

SB 2524 Provides that if a business or industry is located in a declared disaster area and is unable to meet the requirements of the Mississippi Advantage Jobs Act (as a direct result of the disaster), the Chairman of the State Tax Commission may extend the time within which a qualified business or industry may receive incentive payments under the Act, and may waive the job maintenance requirements for a period not to exceed 2 years. [Passed Senate 51-0], but ultimately died in committee in the House.

SB 2521, SB 2522, SB 2523, SB 2525 All four bills allow the State Tax Commission to extend tax credits in the event certain disasters. SB 2521 authorizes the State Tax Commission to extend the time within which the jobs tax credit for permanent businesses may be used by such businesses that are unable to maintain the required number of jobs as a direct result of Hurricane Katrina for a period not to exceed 2 years. [Passed Senate 50-0]; [Passed House 122-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 26. See also HB 1045. SB 2522 authorizes the State Tax Commission to waive the period of time within which the jobs tax credit for producers of alternative energy may be used by such businesses that are unable to maintain the required number of jobs for a period not to exceed 2 years. [Passed Senate 50-0]; [Passed House 122-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 26. SB 2523 authorizes the State Tax Commission to waive the period of time within which the job tax credit for integrated suppliers may be used by such businesses that are unable to maintain the required number of jobs for a period not to exceed 2 years. [Passed Senate 50-0]; [Passed House 122-0]. However, SB 2523 died on the House calendar after a motion to reconsider was entered. But see HB 1044. SB 2525 authorizes the State Tax Commission to extend the period of time within which the job tax credit for certain permanent businesses may be used by such businesses that are unable to maintain the required number of jobs for a period not to exceed 2 years. [Passed Senate 50-0]; [Passed House 121-0]. However, SB 2525 died on the House calendar after a motion to reconsider was entered.

SB 2531 Authorizes the Mississippi Development Authority to extend the state tax exemptions under the Growth and Prosperity Act for not more than 2 years for business enterprises that are unable to use the tax exemptions as a result of certain disasters, and to authorize those business enterprises to purchase replacement equipment and component materials exempt from sales and use tax. [Passed Senate 50-0]; [Passed House 122-0]. However, the bill died on the House calendar after a motion to reconsider was entered.

SB 2810 Incorporates definitions regarding the telecommunication industry that have been adopted by the Streamlines Sales Tax Project into the provisions of law that place a sales and use tax on telecommunications services. [Passed Senate 51-0]; [Passed House 116-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 13.

SB 2815 Exempts from sales taxation, admissions or tickets to or for events sanctioned by the Mississippi Athletic Commission that are held within publicly owned enclosed coliseums and auditoriums. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House 119-0]. On a motion to reconsider, the House passed an amendment that taxes admission to events held at livestock and agricultural facilities at 3%. [Passed House 122-0]. The Senate unanimously concurred with the House version, and the Governor approved the bill on March 30.

SB 3004 Creates Tourism Project Sales Tax Incentive Fund to create an incentive for persons, corporations, or other entities to locate certain tourism projects in the state. [Passed Senate 31-13]. A motion to reconsider was entered but tabled by a vote of 31-13. Nevertheless, the bill died in committee in the House. But see HB 1142, which passed both Houses and was approved by the Governor on April 21.

SB 3070 Exempts from sales taxation, sales of component materials used in the replacement, reconstruction, or repair of a building or facility that has been extensively damaged as a result of a Governor-declared disaster, to enterprises that were eligible for complete exemption during the initial construction of the building that was damaged. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 120-0]. The bill also provides that sales of component materials to enterprises that were eligible for one-half (1/2) exemption during the initial construction of the building that was damaged shall be exempt from one-half (1/2) of the sales taxes imposed on such transactions. The Senate unanimously concurred with the House version, and the Governor approved the bill on March 30.

SB 3103 Revises the definition of “private carrier of property” under the Motor Vehicle Privilege Tax Law to include any person or employee of such person transporting farm products, supplies, materials and/or equipment used in the growing or production of his agricultural product in his own truck. [Passed Senate 50-2]; [Passed House as Amended 121-0]. After being returned for concurrence, the bill died on the Senate calendar.

SB 3111 Authorizes an income tax credit for taxpayers in the business of distributing motor fuel in the amount of 25% of the cost of nonmovable equipment for the distribution of biodiesel and the cost of installation of such equipment. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 122-0]. The bill ultimately died in conference committee.

SB 3189 Authorizes an income tax credit for certain taxpayers for the cost and expenses incurred for purchasing and installing insulation, energy-efficient replacement windows, and high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment on property on which homestead exemptions are granted. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 120-0]. The bill ultimately died in conference committee.

Life Issues (Abortion, Cloning, Adoption, etc.)

HB 566 Provides for the issuance of a “Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth” by the Bureau of Vital Statistics of the State Department of Health upon the request of a parent of a stillborn child. The bill also provides that the State Department of Health prescribe the form and content of the certificate and specify the information necessary to prepare the certificate. [Passed House 119-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate, but only because its provisions were incorporated into SB 2764, the Health Department Reauthorization bill.

HB 1536 Provides that out-of-state child-placing agencies that provide a full range of services in Mississippi must receive licenses from the state, which expire 24 months after date of issuance. The bill also provides that in adoptions other than family adoptions, before a final decree is entered, the court must require that a home study be performed of petitioners by a Mississippi licensed adoption agency, at the petitioners’ sole expense, to determine whether the petitioners are suitable parents for the child. [Passed House 118-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate changes, and the Governor approved the bill on March 27.

SB 2391 Requires that a minor may not obtain an abortion until a court waives the parental consent requirement. [Passed Senate 51-0]. The bill was referred to the House Public Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville. While Rep. Holland initially expressed his intent not to bring up any “pro-life or pro-choice bills,” SB 2391 was consolidated with SB 2795 and SB 2801 (see below) and brought before a vote on the House floor. The measure passed 97-16. The version of SB 2391 that passed the House contains the following provisions: (1) Requires that for a court to grant a waiver of parental consent to a minor seeking an abortion, the court must find by clear and convincing evidence that the minor is mature and well-informed enough to make the decision on her own, OR that the performance of the abortion would be in the best interest of the minor; (2) Prohibits abortions in the state, except where necessary to protect the life of the mother or where the pregnancy was caused by rape, CONTINGENT upon a determination by the state attorney general that the U.S. Supreme Court has overruled Roe v. Wade; and (3) Requires that prior to an abortion, the physician must perform a fetal ultrasound imaging and recording of the fetal heartbeat and offer the patient an opportunity to view such imaging or recording prior to the abortion. Regarding the final provision, the only substantive change from the Senate bill is that the Senate version required the sonogram to be performed and offered for the woman to see at least 24 hours in advance of the abortion; the House bill only requires that it be done “before” the abortion. The Senate voted 49-2 to concur with the House version. Approved by the Governor on March 22.

SB 2795 Criminalizes abortions in the state of Mississippi except in cases of rape or incest. [Passed Senate 34-5]. The bill was incorporated into SB 2391 (see above) and modified. The language now prohibits abortions in the state, except where necessary to protect the life of the mother or where the pregnancy was caused by rape, CONTINGENT upon a determination by the state attorney general that the U.S. Supreme Court has overruled Roe v. Wade.

SB 2801 Requires that a woman be given the opportunity to view a sonogram or listen to the heartbeat of her unborn child before consenting to the abortion. [Passed Senate 51-0]. The bill was incorporated into SB 2391 (see above) and slightly modified. The only substantive change from the Senate bill is that the Senate version required the sonogram to be performed and offered for the woman to see at least 24 hours in advance of the abortion; the House bill only requires that it be done “before” the abortion.

Elections

HB 400 Requires ultimate disclosure by political candidates. Additionally, the bill increases from $1,000 to $2,000 the amount that corporations can contribute to political candidates, while at the same time placing trusts, unincorporated associations, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, or manager-managed limited liability companies under such a restriction. [Passed House 81-38]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 494 Establishes an early voting pilot program in Lafayette County. Any qualified elector may vote not more than 25 days and not less than 4 days before the day of an election. [Passed House 114-2]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 777 Restores voting rights to persons who have served in and been honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces. [Passed House 74-41]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 801 Increases to 8 the number of hours for which poll managers may be compensated. [Passed House 119-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 997 Extends the time period to 3 weeks during which runoff elections for judicial and special elections are conducted. [Passed House 102-16]. The Senate passed an amended version that addressed addtional issues concerning the election of justice court judges. [Passed Senate as Amended 51-0]. The bill ultimately died in conference committee.

HB 1065 Requires that the examination and counting of absentee ballots be conducted at the registar’s office. [Passed House 116-4]. The Senate added numerous amendments concerning the administration of absentee ballots. [Passed Senate as Amended 41-10]. The bill ultimately died in conference committee.

HB 1097 Increases the pay of poll worker managers and clerks. [Passed House 115-3]. The bill passed two Senate committees, but died on the Senate calendar. SB 2635, a similar bill which also increased compensation to poll worker managers passed both houses [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 119-0], but ultimately died on the Senate calendar.

HB 1106 Deletes the requirement that before adjustments in the salaries of mayors and councilmen can occur, such adjustments must take place at any time prior to 90 days before the next general election for the selection of municipal officers in the mayor-council form of government. The bill also provides that increases in the salaries of mayors and councilmen shall become effective in the next term of office following a general election. [Passed House 116-2]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

SB 2056 Prohibits a person from qualifying as a candidate for more than one office if the election for those offices occurs on the same day. The bill also amends current law to provide that a special election to fill a vacancy in the Congress must be held not less than 60 days after the issuance of the order by the Governor and that candidates must qualify not less than 45 days prior to the election. [Passed Senate 44-8]. The House passed an amended version of the bill that made the effective date of the bill July 1, 2008 [Passed House as Amended 114-8]. The Senate adopted the conference report by a vote of 51-1, and the House by a vote of 120-1. Approved by the Governor on April 21.

SB 2233 Requires the Governor to issue a writ of election within 30 days after a vacancy in either house of the Legislature occurs. However, if the vacancy occurs on or after June 1 of a year in which the general election for state officers is held, the Governor may elect not to issue a writ of election to fill the vacancy. The bill also provides that at least 40 days notice of election must be given and the qualifying deadline is 30 days prior to the election. [Passed Senate 51-1]; [Passed House as Amended 118-0]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report, and the Governor approved the bill on April 21. See also HB 1040, which [Passed House 102-17]; [Passed Senate as Amended 51-0], but ultimately died in conference committee.

SB 2567 Creates a task force to study and assess the duties and services provided by justice court judges, the training and compensation of justice court judges, the jurisdictional limits and uniform rules of justice courts, the time and manner of justice court judges elections, and the feasibility of nonpartisan elections for justice court judges. The bill also specifies the constitution of the aforementioned task force. [Passed Senate 43-9]; [Passed House as Amended 64-58]. The Senate adopted the conference report by a vote of 51-1, and the House by a vote of 117-4. Approved by the Governor on April 21.

SB 2617 Requires voter ID at election polls. [Passed Senate 30-15]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2823 Delays until July 1, 2009, the date upon which registration of municipal voters must comply with the requirements of the statewide elections management system. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 113-3]. The bill ultimately died in conference committee.

SB 2831 Authorizes additional compensation for commissioners of election for runoff elections by providing that they receive a per diem of $84, to be paid from the county general fund, not to exceed 14 days for every day or period of no less than 5 hours accumulated over 2 or more days actually employed in the performance of duties. The bill also increases the compensation required to be paid to managers and clerks of the election from $50 to $75 per election, and increases the amount that boards of supervisors are authorized to pay managers and clerks from $25 to $50 per election. [Passed Senate 49-0]; [Passed House as Amended 118-3]. The Senate unanimously concurred with the House amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 22.

Family

HB 566 Provides for the issuance of a “Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth” by the Bureau of Vital Statistics of the State Department of Health upon the request of a parent of a stillborn child. The bill also provides that the State Department of Health prescribe the form and content of the certificate and specify the information necessary to prepare the certificate. [Passed House 119-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate, but only because its provisions were incorporated into SB 2764, the Health Department Reauthorization bill.

HB 839 Provides that an arrearage in child support payments by a noncustodial parent will not be a bar to review and adjustment of the support order by the Department of Human Services, and will not be the basis for contesting a downward modification of child support payments in later legal proceedings. Either parent may seek an adjustment to the support order. The bill also provides that if a court finds that a person previously ordered to make child support payments is not the biological father, the court must disestablish paternity and may forgive child support arrears if deemed equitable under the circumstances. [Passed House 102-11]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The House adopted the conference report by a vote of 115-7, and the Senate by unanimous vote. Approved by the Governor on April 18.

HB 841 Authorizes the Department of Human Services to statistically report paternity to the Administration for Children and Families of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, if the probability of paternity is ninety-nine percent (99%) or greater, subject only to a later determination of nonpaternity by a court. [Passed House 119-0]; [Passed Senate 51-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 14.

HB 885 Authorizes the Department of Human Services to make monthly kinship care payments to a relative of a child (within third degree) who is placed in the care of the relative by the state or county departments of human services, to defray up to 100% of the expenses of furnishing room and board for the child, subject to availability of funds. Before kinship care payments may be made, the department must first determine that financial inability to maintain the child is the sole reason preventing the relative from assuming custody of the child. if the department determines that financial inability to maintain the child is the sole reason preventing the relative from assuming custody of the child. The department may continue to make kinship care payments to the relative even after the department relinquishes legal custody of the child to the relative. [Passed House 114-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 51-0]. The House unanimously concurred with the minor amendments of the Senate version. Approved by the Governor on March 27.

HB 921 Authorizes conveyance or encumbrance of a homestead using a limited power of attorney for a spouse. [Passed House 118-0]; [Passed Senate 50-1]. Approved by the Governor on March 20.

SB 2061 Provides that an arrearage in child support payments by a noncustodial parent shall not be a bar to a review of the support order by the Department of Human Services, and a downward modification of support payments. [Passed Senate 51-0]; [Passed House as Amended 114-6]. The bill ultimately died on the Senate calendar. But see HB 839 above, which passed both Houses and was approved by the Governor on April 18.

SB 2063 Provides that the custodial parent of a child will be responsible for the health care expenses of the child when the court order awarding custody and any order of support do not specifically assign that responsibility. [Passed Senate 49-2]. The bill died in committee in the House.

Rebuilding and Related Issues

HCR 42 Urges state action to attend to the needs of children affected by natural disasters by implementing a system of planning, response, and recovery. [Passed House 120-0], but ultimately died in committee in the Senate.

HB 6 Authorizes local governments to enter into executory contracts for debris removal in the event of a declared disaster [Passed House 119-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 229 Prohibits the charging of a penalty for the prepayment of any loan secured by real estate if such loan is prepaid at any time using funds received from an insurance company as payment for a total or substantial loss of the real estate resulting from a disaster. [Passed House 116-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 243 Allocates $30 million to the Mississippi Windstorm Underwiting Association that provides insurance coverage for wind damage in the six southern-most counties. This money will be used to reduce premium increases for insuring commercial property. (Money was allocated last year to reduce the rate increases for residential property.) [Passed House 119-1]. On January 2, the first day of the 2007 legislative session, members of the Legislative Conservative Coalition of the House of Representatives blocked an effort by the House leadership to cast immediate votes on eight significant pieces of legislation, including this measure. Their complaint was that the bills altogether appropriated more than 60% of the state’s general fund and that they didn’t have time to read these bills before casting their votes. The House leadership failed to get the two-thirds vote necessary to suspend the rules and allow for an immediate vote on this measure [74 voted to suspend the rules and 40 voted against suspending the rules]. The bill died in committee in the Senate. But see HB 1500 below, which passed both Houses and was approved by the Governor on March 22.

HB 471 Conforms state income tax law with federal law regarding the period for nonrecognition of gain on the replacement of damaged property in the Hurricane Katrina disaster area, as provided in the Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act of 2005. [Passed House 119-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate. However, the Senate added the language of HB 471 as an amendment to HB 1585 (see above), which passed both Houses, and was approved by the Governor on March 27.

HB 1022; SB 2520 Authorizes the Mississippi Development Authority to extends the period of time that a family-oriented entertainment enterprise may receive payments from the Sales Tax Incentive Fund if the enterprise is unable to collect sales taxes as a result of certain disasters. [HB 1022 Passed House 120-0]. The bill passed out of committee in the Senate, but died on the Senate calendar. SB 2520, the identical Senate version of the bill [Passed Senate 52-0], but died in committee in the House.

HB 1024 Provides that if a business enterprise is located in a declared disaster area and is unable to use the exemption from state taxes authorized under the Growth and Prosperity Act (as a direct result of the disaster), the Mississippi Development Authority may extend the duration of the state tax exemption for not more than 2 years or until December 31, 2020, whichever occurs first. The bill also provides that any business enterprise that has property or equipment purchased using the state sales and use tax exemption may purchase replacement equipment and component building materials exempt from sales and use tax. [Passed House 120-0]; [Passed Senate 52-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 26.

HB 1047 Provides that if a business or industry is located in a declared disaster area and is unable to meet the requirements of the Mississippi Advantage Jobs Act (as a direct result of disaster), the chairman of the State Tax Commission may extend the time within which a qualified business or industry may receive incentive payments under the Act and may waive the job maintenance requirements of the Act, for not more than 2 years. [Passed House 119-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 48-0]. The House approved the Senate’s amended version by a vote of 121-1. Approved by the Governor on March 27.

HB 1500 Titled the “Mississippi Economic Growth and Redevelopment Act of 2007,” the bill is intended to stimulate growth and redevelopment within all areas of the state by promoting the availability of affordable commercial and residential casualty loss insurance. Notably, the bill reorganizes the Mississippi Windstorm Underwriting Association as a separate and independent entity and establishes the Mississippi Windstorm Underwriting Association Reinsurance Assistance Fund. The Reinsurance Assistance Fund may be funded up to $50 million and is to be used only to defray the costs of reinsurance. The Act also provides tax credits to taxpayers in coastal areas for certain increases in annual state insurance premiums. [Passed House 116-0]. After adding some additional amendments, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 46-0. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report, which allows insurers to recoup losses from a major coastal disaster by adding a surcharge to their policies. Additionally, the Windstorm Underwriting Association will receive a $80 million subsidy over a 4 year period to lower rates on coverage for wind damage. Approved by the Governor on March 22.

HB 1524 Provides for the regulation and licensure of public adjusters by the Commissioner of Insurance in a similar manner as required for other insurance adjusters. The bill also provides that public adjusters must ensure that all contracts for their services are in writing, signed by the insured and the public adjuster, and that a copy be provided to the insured upon execution. The bill also limits compensation to public adjusters to no more than 10% of any insurance settlement, and requires adherence to certain ethical requirements. [Passed House 118-0]. The Senate passed an amendment which deleted a provision that prohibited a public adjuster from referring an insured to an attorney [Passed Senate as Amended 51-0]. The current version requires that a public adjuster advise each insured of the right to retain an attorney during investigation, adjustment, or even if the claim is not settled. The House unanimously voted to concur with the Senate’s amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 27.

SB 2069 Designates August 29 of each year as “Katrina Day of Remembrance” in Mississippi in honor of the victims of this most destructive storm. The bill calls upon citizens of Mississippi to join each other and the entire community linked by the Gulf of Mexico in a unified expression of faith and hope. [Passed Senate 51-0] [Passed House 118-0]. Approved by the Governor on January 29.

SB 2851 Requires all members of the Building Codes Council to be residents of Mississippi and provides that any council member having more than 3 consecutive unexcused absences shall be replace. The bill also requires counties and municipalities to adopt, or amend to adopt building codes promulgated by the Mississippi Building Codes Council. [Passed Senate 47-3]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 3070 Exempts from sales taxation, sales of component materials used in the replacement, reconstruction, or repair of a building or facility that has been extensively damaged as a result of a Governor-declared disaster, to enterprises that were eligible for complete exemption during the initial construction of the building that was damaged. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 120-0]. The bill also provides that sales of component materials to enterprises that were eligible for one-half (1/2) exemption during the initial construction of the building that was damaged shall be exempt from one-half (1/2) of the sales taxes imposed on such transactions. The Senate unanimously concurred with the House version, and the Governor approved the bill on March 30.

Health Care

HB 245 Allocates $21.2 million to “fully fund” the state’s seven mental health crisis. [Passed House 116-3]. On January 2, the first day of the 2007 legislative session, members of the Legislative Conservative Coalition of the House of Representatives blocked an effort by the House leadership to cast immediate votes on eight significant pieces of legislation, including this measure. Their complaint was that the bills altogether appropriated more than 60% of the state’s general fund and that they didn’t have time to read these bills before casting their votes. The House leadership failed to get the two-thirds vote necessary to suspend the rules and allow for an immediate vote on this measure [74 voted to suspend the rules and 42 voted against suspending the rules]. The bill died in committee in the Senate. But SB 3147, a bill which provides the same effect, passed both House and Senate, and was approved by the Governor on April 25.

HB 349 Provides for a comprehensive and statewide tobacco education, prevention, and cessation program consistent with federal guidelines, under newly created Mississippi Tobacco Control Commission. The bill also provides basic guidelines for appointment of membership of the Commission, establishment of the Tobacco Control Commission Fund, and minimum components of the program. [Passed House 101-18]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 555 Extends the repealer on statutes creating and prescribing duties and powers of the State Board of Health and State Department of Health through June 30, 2009. [Passed House 119-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 556 Extends the repealer statutes providing for suitable donors, organ removal, and protocol for organ and tissue donors. [Passed House 119-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 567 Requires the University of Mississippi Medical Center to establish a separate unit for treatment of burn victims, to be known as the Mississippi Burn Center. The opening and operation of the Burn Center is conditioned upon the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning making a written determination that adequate funds are available from public and/or private sources for annual operating costs. The Legislature is authorized to appropriate funds for construction and annual operation of the Burn Center. The bill also provides that individuals filing a Mississippi income tax return are authorized to make a contribution to the Burn Care Fund at the time of filing a return, in addition to any income tax liability paid when filing the return or in addition to amount of tax refund designated as a contribution to the fund. [Passed House 120-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The Senate and House both unanimously adopted the final conference report. Approved by the Governor on April 21.

HB 1267 Creates the Caring for Mississippi Individuals with Autism Task Force to study and make recommendations to the Legislature regarding the growing incidence of autism and how to address the needs of individuals with autism, and state services for individuals with autism. The bill also provides for the appointment of 15 persons to the task force and prescribes areas to be addressed in the study and submission of a report to relevant legislative committees and state agencies before December 1, 2007. [Passed House 119-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 51-0]. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate’s amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 26.

HB 1306 Increases the maximum compensation authorized for members of the boards of trustees for certain community hospitals. [Passed House 115-1]. The Senate passed an amended version that deleted the pay restriction, but added that trustees must meet the same minimum eligibility criteria as entry-level employees of the hospital [Passed Senate as Amended 51-0]. The bill ultimately died in conference committee.

HB 1387 Expands authority of Governor and State Health Department to address pandemics and epidemics, and directs the State Board of Health to adopt regulations necessary for compliance with the Act. The bill also expands the definition of “natural emergency” to include pandemis and epidemics for purposes of the Mississippi Emergency Management Law. [Passed House 117-2]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 1439 Provides patients in long-term facilities the freedom of choice of pharmacy providers. [Passed House 119-0]. The Senate passed an amended version 51-0. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate’s amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 26.

HB 1465 Establishes the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholars Program for the purpose of recruiting qualified college students to practice medicine in rural areas. The program will be administered by the newly created Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Commission, housed in the School of Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). [Passed House 118-1]; [Passed Senate as Amended 48-3]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report, and the Governor approved the bill on April 20.

HB 1471 Extends the repealer on provisions that establish a program administered by the Division of Medicaid to provide nonemergency transportation for certain kidney dialysis patients to June 30, 2008. The bill also authorizes the Division to study the use of private provider funds for the continued operation of the program. [Passed House 119-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 51-0]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report. Approved by the Governor on March 16. See also SB 2496 for provision allocating about $3.9 million to the program.

HB 1523 Provides that in death cases where the cause of death was Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and the medical examiner provides a SIDS Death Scene Investigation report, the county medical examiners will receive an additional fee of $50, or an additional fee of $100 if the medical examiner has received advanced training and present a certificate of completion to the county. The bill also requires the State Medical Examiner to develop a uniform format and list of matters to be contained in SID/Child Death Scene Investigation reports, which must be used by all county medical examiners. [Passed House 111-0]; [Passed Senate 50-0]. Approved by the Governor March 15.

SB 2416 Defines “adult foster care facilities” to provide services for vulnerable adults for purposes of licensure by the State Department of Health. The bill prescribes fees for adult foster care facility licensure, and directs the State Board of Health to promulgate rules, regulations, and standards regarding their operation. The bill also authorizes the Division of Medicaid-Office of the Governor to apply for waivers for adults to receive care in adult foster care programs under a pilot Medicaid program. [Passed Senate 50-0]; [Passed House as Amended 121-0]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report. Approved by the Governor on April 20.

SB 2496 Provides funding to the Mississippi Department of Health, including $1.27 million to the for the purpose of providing 51 school health nurses. [Passed Senate 51-0]; [Passed House as Amended 118-0]. The Governor partially vetoed this bill, questioning the justification and fiscal responsibility of the $2 million deficit appropriation to defray expenses of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health. [Veto Message].

SB 2764 Extends the repealer to take effect on the State Board of Health and Executive Officer (also known as the State Health Officer) on July 1, 2007. The bill provides for a new 11-member board composed of 5 physicians and 6 consumer representatives who are not physicians, appointed by the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, and the Attorney General. The bill also establishes the Office of Tobacco Control as an administrative division of the State Department of Health, which shall develop and implement a comprehensive and statewide education, prevention, and cessation program consistent with federal guidelines. Similarly, the bill establishes the Mississippi Tobacco Control Advisory Council, and creates a $20 million fund to be expended for the tobacco cessation program. [Passed Senate 45-5]; [Passed House as Amended 110-2]. The House unanimously adopted the conference report, and the Senate by a vote of 48-1. Approved by the Governor on March 30.

SB 2988 Requires a criminal history check on applicants for medical, osteopathic, podiatric, and physician assistant licensure, as well as on applicants for reinstatement of such licenses. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 119-0]. The Senate unanimously concurred in the House amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 30.

Government Regulation and Eminent Domain

HB 237 Titled the “Mississippi Working Person’s Act,” the bill increases the state minimum wage to $6.25/hour beginning July 1, 2007 and to $7.25/hour beginning January 15, 2008. The Act also contains provisions for “tipped” employees (those receiving more than $30 per month in tips). Tipped employees must be compensated–minus any tips–at no less than 50% of the effective minimum wage. [Passed House 68-50]. The bill was amended prior to its passage to exempt part-time high school or college employees who work 20 hours or less per week. [Amendment Passed House 64-54]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 296 Increases unemployment benefits to no more than $230/week for the benefit year that begins July 1, 2007, and then to no more than $250/week for any benefit year that begins on and after July 1, 2008. [Passed House 86-33]. The bill passed out of committee in the Senate, but ultimately died on the Senate calendar.

HB 300, HCR 18 Provides that the right of eminent domain “shall not be exercised for the purposes of converting privately owned real property for retail, office, commercial, industrial or residential development; or primarily for enhancement of tax revenue; or for transfer to a person, nongovernmental entity, public-private partnership, corporation or other business entity.” Accordingly, private property can only be taken for public needs such as roads, water lines, courthouses, etc. [Passed House 97-20] The Senate passed an amended version by a vote of 51-0 which restricts the use of eminent domain except for a direct public use. However, HB 300 ultimately died in conference committee. HCR 18 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would accomplish the same goal to restrict the use of eminent domain. HCR 18 passed the House 117-2, but died in committee in the Senate.

HB 423 Authorizes the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks to allow the taking of deer with the aid of bait. The commission can establish zones of contiguous counties for implementation of a baiting program, but may only allow baiting of deer on private lands. The Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks is required to file annual progress reports and a final report with recommendation on the feasibility of continued allowance of baiting deer. [Passed House 79-38]; [Passed Senate as Amended 46-5]. The Senate adopted the conference report by a vote of 45-7, and the House by a vote of 82-35. After a motion to reconsider was tabled in the Senate, the Governor approved the bill on April 21.

HB 467 Authorizes the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks to issue multiyear hunting and fishing licenses not to exceed 4 years. All annual licenses shall be valid for 1 year from its date of issuance. [Passed House 120-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate’s amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 27. See also SB 2785, which died in committee in the House.

HB 608 Authorizes the board of supervisors of any county to expend funds and use county employees, materials, and equipment for the purpose of plugging and filling abandoned water wells on private property within the county. [Passed House 79-38]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 856 Authorizes any municipality to enter into agreements and contracts and to deliver services or assistance, and to receive, expend and administer any grants, gifts, matching funds, loans or other monies in accordance with federal regulations. [Passed House 117-2]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate’s amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 27.

HB 879 Titled the “Mississippi Energy Act of 2007” meant to promote energy efficiency, the bill requires any motor vehicle purchased by a state agency, department, institution or agency to meet federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, or to contain a hybrid gas-electric motor or motor equipped to use alternative fuels. The bill also provides for a tax credit for taxpayers who purchase new hybrid electric vehicles, limited by federal restrictions or tax liability less other tax credits. The bill also provides tax credits for those who build new buildings, or rehabilitate old buildings, in accordance with the U.S. Green Building Council or the Green Building Initiative. [Passed House 85-33]; [Passed Senate as Amended 51-1]. The bill ultimately died in conference committee.

HB 911 Clarifies and consolidates the law on nuisance animals. The bill amends current law to include fox and skunks in the class of nuisance animals. The bill also allows landowners, agriculture leaseholders, or their designated agents to take nuisance animals during the night with a permit issued by the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks. The bill requires that when hunting wild hogs during any open gun season on deer, a hunter must wear 500 square inches of solid unbroken fluorescent orange. [Passed House 120-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 51-0]. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate’s amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 27.

HB 1033 Requires the Department of Finance and Administration to convey “Old Farmer’s Market” and the rights and appurtenances thereon to the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), to be used exclusively as a research park. The bill also provides that if the Mississippi Industries for the Blind and the State Records Office find more suitable facilities or locations, the 3 parcels of property reserved for those entities shall be transferred to UMMC. The bill also authorizes the Jackson State Educational Building Corporation, the Department of Finance and Administration, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, and the Department of Mental Health to transfer certain properties. [Passed House 108-8]; [Passed Senate as Amended 46-4]. The Senate and House both unanimously adopted the conference report. Approved by the Governor on April 18.

HB 1036 Revises the amount to $25,000 of proceeds from a personal injury judgment which are exempt from execution or attachment [Passed House 91-27]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 1048 Provides that pro bono requirements for attorneys shall not apply to elected officials who are attorneys or government attorneys. [Passed House 92-19]. The Senate passed an amended version of the bill that incorporates “Sunshine” legislation to provide for greater oversight and review of outside legal services obtained by the Attorney General. [Passed Senate as Amended 40-10]. After being returned for concurrence in the House, the bill died on the House calendar.

HB 1059 Clarifies that the Supreme Court may utilize and fund as a pilot project, the electronic filing system of the Three Rivers Planning and Development, any county, or any vendor. [Passed House 117-1]; [Passed Senate 51-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 15.

HB 1076 Provides that a Mississippi resident who is a member of the Armed Forces, including the Reserves and National Guard, and on active military duty outside Mississippi is not required to purchase or have in his possession a hunting or fishing license while engaged in such activities on leave from active duty. The resident must have in his possession and on his person such proof of military status as may be required by the commission. [Passed House 119-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate’s amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 27.

HB 1143 Limits the use of state employees’ wireless communication devices for business purposes and authorizes certain UMMC personnel to have more than one wireless communication device. [Passed House 120-0]. The Senate passed an amended version of the bill that also exempts district attorneys and employees thereof, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Military, and during times of declared disaster, the Department of Human Services, from the one wireless communication device limitation. [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The bill ultimately died in conference committee.

HB 1150 Authorizes the governing authority of any municipality to donate lots measuring 25 feet or less along the frontage line, providing that al costs of conveying the donated municipal lot shall be paid by the person or entity to whom the lot was donated and that the municipality shall retain all mineral rights it owns. The bill authorizes the governing authority of any municipality to sell, lease, donate or otherwise convey property to any person or legal entity without public notice, without having to advertise for and accept competitive bids, without appraisal, with or without consideration, and on terms and conditions as the parties may agree. The bill also conforms to HB 856 (see above) with regards to authority of governing municipalities. [Passed House 113-2]; [Passed Senate as Amended 48-1]. The House adopted the conference report by a vote of 118-1, and the Senate unanimously adopted it. Approved by the Governor on April 18.

HB 1176 Revises the definition of the practice of engineering to exclude expert testimony. [Passed House 78-38]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 1212 Increases the State Board of Health’s schedule of fees for food service establishment permits, wastewater disposal system evaluation, certification and manufacturer registration, and for boiler and pressure vessel certification. [Passed House 81-38]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 1227 Revises the municipal population requirement from 2,500 to 10,000 that allows governing board members of any community public water systems to be exempt from management training requirements that are mandatory for elected board members. [Passed House 92-27]; [Passed Senate 51-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 15.

HB 1252 Prescribes that monies in the Mississippi Highway-Railroad Grade Crossing Safety Account within the Railroad Revitalization Fund may expended for additional purposes. The bill also increases penalties and requires restitution for certain crimes relating to railroad property. [Passed House 115-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The House unanimously adopted the conference report, and the Senate adopted it by a vote of 48-4. Approved by the Governor on April 21.

HB 1316 Authorizes counties to waive the residency requirement for determination of pauper status to qualify for burial costs. The bill also provides that counties and municipalities burying paupers may use county or municipal employees and equipment, purchase materials, and contract necessary services. [Passed House 120-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 1425 Amends the Public Improvement District Act to authorize contiguous counties to form public improvement districts. The bill provides that before incurring any debt, a public improvement district may (but is not required to) secure an agreement from one or more developers. The bill also provides that a district may enter into an agreement with the developer for construction of all or any part of the project with private funds in advance of issuance of bonds. [Passed House 118-1]; [Passed Senate 50-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 15. See also SB 2990 which [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 117-0], but ultimately died on the Senate calendar.

HB 1505 Provides for 5 judges (1 additional judge) for Seventh Circuit Court District, and revises the subdistricts of the Seventh Circuit Court District. [Passed House 108-8]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 1532 Reforms the ethics laws by expanding the content of information included in the statements of economic interests that certain public officials and employees must file. [Passed House 67-44]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 1547 Adds the Federal Energy Commission, or any successor agency, as an agency from which entities do not have to obtain certain qualifying information regarding eminent domain when such entities are seeking to utilize the power of eminent domain. [Passed House 98-19]; [Passed Senate as Amended 51-0]. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate’s changes. Approved by the Governor on March 27.

SB 2046 Creates the Mississippi Agricultural Development Advisory Council and prescribes its membership, powers, and duties. The bill also dismantles the Mississippi Land, Water, and Timber Resources Board, transfering its powers to the Mississippi Agricultural Development Advisory Council under the authority of the Mississippi Development Authority. [Passed Senate 50-2]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2099 Allows an applicant for a driver’s license to contribute $1 (in addition to other required fees) to be deposited into the Statewide Litter Prevention Fund for the Statewide Litter Prevention Program of Keep Mississippi Beautiful, Inc. [Passed Senate 51-1]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2117 Provides that a professional license issued in Mississippi to any member of the Mississippi National Guard or U.S. Armed Forces Reserves shall not expire while the member is serving on federal active duty and shall be extended for 90 days after his return. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House 119-0]. Approved by the Governor March 8.

SB 2123 Requires adult applicants for public benefits in Mississippi to verify U.S. citizenship or lawful residence to be eligible. The bill also provides procedures and exceptions for such verification, and provides criminal penalties for wilfull violations of lawful presence requirements. The bill requires the Division of Medicaid, the Department of Human Services, the Office of Unemployment Security, and the Mississippi Housing Authorities to require applicants to verify lawful presence under the bill. [Passed Senate 43-7]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2152 Prohibits the use of eminent domain except for a direct public use. The bill also states that an increase in local tax revenue or general improvement to the economy is not to be considered as direct public use. [Passed Senate 52-0]. The House passed an amended version of the bill that added a provision to address a procedure for selling condemned property which has remained inactive for a period of 10 years. [Passed House as Amended 120-0]. The bill ultimately died in conference committee.

SB 2184 Clarifies the authority of the court concerning certain civil damages. The bill provides that if compensatory damages are awarded, the court must hold a hearing outside the presence of the jury to determine if punitive damages may be considered. [Passed Senate 43-9]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2253 Requires proof of motor vehicle liability insurance coverage before receiving motor vehicle license tags. [Passed Senate 46-2]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2265 Provides the same immunity for law enforcement officers escorting a funeral procession as the officer would possess while in performance of official duties. The bill revises definitions under the Tort Claims Act. [Passed Senate 50-0]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2385 Authorizes the board of supervisors of any county to sell, lease, or otherwise convey surplus county property located in a blighted area, with or without consideration, if the subject property is acquired by reason of a tax sale because the property was abandoned or blighted, if the subject property is blighted or located in a blighted area, if the subject property is not needed for governmental or related purposes and is not to be used in the operation of the county, if the sale of the property as otherwise provided by law is not necessary or desirable, or if the purpose for property conveyance will promote and foster development and improvement. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 105-15]. The House adopted the conference report by a vote of 116-5, and the Senate unanimously adopted it. Approved by the Governor on April 21.

SB 2482 Provides that notice of certain litigation shall be given to an agency head and that agencies may retain separate counsel in certain situations. The bill also incorporates “Sunshine” legislation to provide for greater oversight and review of outside legal services obtained by the Attorney General. SB 2482 [Passed Senate 32-17], but ultimately died on the House calendar. Provisions of SB 2482 were incorporated into HB 1048, which also died on the House calendar (see above).

SB 2760 Requires municipalities to provide a predisciplinary hearing prior to the suspension or termination of any law enforcement officer. The bill also provides requirements for the predisciplinary hearing, including notice and written due process procedures. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House 96-24]. Vetoed by the Governor based on the the Governor’s position that the added bureacracy would make it difficult for police chiefs to manage their departments. [Veto Message].

SB 2783 Revises minimum antler size restrictions for hunting deer, and clarifies the annual bag limit on antlerless deer [Passed Senate 50-0]; [Passed House as Amended 114-6]. The bill died on the calendar in the Senate after both conference reports were filed.

SB 2785 Authorizes the issuance of multi-year licenses by the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks [Passed Senate 51-0]. The bill died in committee in the House. But see HB 467, which passed both Houses and was approved by the Governor on March 27.

SB 2786 Consolidates and recodifies wildlife laws pertaining to wild hogs. [Passed Senate 51-0]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2817 Deletes the requirement for a public hearing by the Mississippi Department of Transportation before the abolishment of a roadway/railway crossing when the public roadway authority vacates the roadway, and authorizes inspectors employed by the Mississippi Department of Transportation to enforce grade crossing laws. [Passed Senate 51-1]; [Passed House as Amended 118-1]. The bill ultimately died in conference committee.

SB 2838 Provides that every application for issuance of a used motor vehicle dealer’s license must be accompanied by such evidence as the State Tax Commission shall prescribe documenting the completion of an education seminar conducted by the Mississippi Independent Auto Dealers Association during the 12 month period directly preceding the date of application. Completion of an 8 hour licensing seminar is required for an initial license. [Passed Senate 51-0]; [Passed House 60-56]. Approved by the Governor on March 22.

SB 2914 A declaration of public policy to protect and preserve the traditions of hunting, fishing, and trapping in Mississippi. The bill provides that no court of this state may enjoin, suspend, curtail, or abrogate any hunting, fishing, or trapping activity which is lawful under state regulations of the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, except upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence of an immediate threat to public health, safety, and welfare or other imminent peril. [Passed Senate 51-0]; [Passed House as Amended 117-0]. The Senate and House both unanimously adopted the conference report. Approved by the Governor on April 10.

SB 3011 Requires court to select most direct and unobtrusive route for private roads [Passed Senate 50-1]. After two proposed amendments were added, the House did not approve the bill [Failed to Pass House 35-82].

SB 3046 Authorizes any municipality to to enter into agreements, to provide and deliver any services or assistance, and to receive, expend, and administer any grants, gifts, loans, matching funds, or other monies. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 119-0]. The bill ultimately died in conference committee. But see HB 856, which passed both Houses and was approved by the Governor on March 27.

SB 3049 Affords a procedure to help collect delinquent water bills by providing that a water sewer system shall refuse to provide water sewer service to a person who applies for or receives service, if the person is delinquent on payment of an undisputed water sewer service bill provided by another in-state system. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House 119-1]. Approved by the Governor on March 12.

Crime

HB 11 Requires the Mississippi Commission on Continuing Legal Education to approve annual juvenile justice training for attorneys who represent delinquent children. [Passed House 120-0]; [Passed Senate 51-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 15. The provisions of HB 11 are incorporated in HB 527, which passed both Houses and was approved by the Governor on March 27.
HB 134 Allows motor vehicle accident reports to be provided to person’s spouse or next of kin, or any person against whom a claim is made as a result of the accident, in addition to those allowed under current law. The bill also provides that it shall be unlawful for any person to fraudulently obtain (or attempt to obtain) a copy of a motor vehicle accident report or information contained in such report if not authorized. Violation is punishable by a fine of not more than $2,500 and/or imprisonment of not more than 6 months. [Passed House 117-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate’s amended version of the bill. Approved by the Governor on March 27.

HB 202 Provides for the criminal offense of attempted murder with a minimum sentence of 20 years, and also revises the criminal offense of aggravated assault. [Passed House 119-0]. The Senate passed an amendment which revised certain other crimes to conform to attempted murder and created a Mississippi Witness Protection Program Study Committee [Passed Senate as Amended 51-0]. The bill died in conference committee.

HB 244 Provides $5 million for highway patrol trooper training class. [Passed House 116-2]. On January 2, the first day of the 2007 legislative session, members of the Legislative Conservative Coalition of the House of Representatives blocked an effort by the House leadership to cast immediate votes on eight significant pieces of legislation, including this measure. Their complaint was that the bills altogether appropriated more than 60% of the state’s general fund and that they didn’t have time to read these bills before casting their votes. The House leadership failed to get the two-thirds vote necessary to suspend the rules and allow for an immediate vote on this measure [71 voted to suspend the rules and 43 voted against suspending the rules]. The bill died in committee in the Senate. A similar bill, SB 3093, passed the Senate but died in committee in the House.

HB 378 Authorizes counties and municipalities to offer up to $15,000 as a reward for criminal information, payable from their general funds. [Passed House 118-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 397 Requires motor vehicle operators to perform certain traffic safety maneuvers when approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle, including proceeding with due caution and changing to the lane not adjacent to the emergency vehicle if possible. [Passed House 118-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate. But see SB 2057, described as the “Move Over Act,” which prescribes certain duties for motorists approaching highway maintenance and recovery vehicles. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 119-0]; [Senate Concurred with the House Version 51-0]. SB 2057 was approved by the Governor on March 12.

HB 427 Prohibits participants in the Intensive Supervision Program from leaving the jurisdiction of the state of Mississippi except when medical emergencies occur for such participants and approval is given by the Commissioner of Corrections. [Passed House 111-8]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 428 Authorizes the Department of Corrections to give electronic notice to certain law enforcement officials whenever certain offenders are being released from the Department of Corrections [Passed House 118-1]. The bill passed out of committee in the Senate, but ultimately died on the Senate calendar.

HB 429 Allows the Department of Corrections to place an inmate in a pre-release center within one year of the inmate’s earliest release date, and authorizes the Commissioner of Corrections to appoint a designee to approve the placement of inmates in pre-release centers. [Passed House 119-0]; [Passed Senate 49-1]. Approved by the Governor on March 20.

HB 432 Makes it a felony to knowingly expose others to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B or C. The bill also creates the crime of endangerment by bodily substance, when a person attempts to cause or knowingly causes a corrections employee, visitor to a correctional facility or another prisoner or offender to come into contact with certain infected bodily fluids. [Passed House 106-11]; [Passed Senate as Amended 51-0]. House concurred with the Senate’s amended version by a vote of 121-1. Approved by the Governor on March 27.

HB 436 Authorizes the Department of Corrections to house any classification of offenders at any private prison. [Passed House 119-19]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 443 Allows a circuit court grand jury, after an evidentiary hearing, to remand a case to justice or municipal court to be tried as a misdemeanor. [Passed House 117-2]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate’s amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 27.

HB 526 Gives the attorney of any child who is the subject of a youth court case the right to inspect and copy any law enforcement record or other record, report, or investigation that is to be considered by the youth court at a hearing. [Passed House 116-1]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate’s amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 27. The elements of this bill were incorporated into HB 1522, which passed both Houses and was approved by the Governor on April 21.

HB 527 Provides that in delinquency matters, the youth court shall appoint legal defense counsel who is not also a guardian ad litem for the same child. The bill further provides that the Mississippi Commission on Continuing Legal Education (rather than the Mississippi Bar Association) shall determine the amount of juvenile justice training and continuing education that is required for attorneys who represent delinquent children. [Passed House 116-1]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate’s amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 27. This bill incorporates the provisions of HB 11, which passed both Houses and was approved by the Governor on March 15.

HB 642 Allows any person convicted of a first criminal offense (with the exception of crimes against the person, offenses affecting children, or certain offenses pertaining to controlled substances) to petition the circuit court to have his or her conviction expunged from public record 2 years after the successful completion of the terms and conditions of the sentence for such conviction. [Passed House 72-46]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 661 Clarifies that it is not a defense to a charge of exploitation of children that a law enforcement officer posed as a child or was involved in any other manner in the detection and investigation in the case. [Passed House 118-0]; [Passed Senate 50-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 15.

HB 662 Provides that where one or more conspirators in a crime is a law enforcement officer, or person acting at direction of a law enforcement officer, engaged in the performance of official duty, any remaining conspirator may be charged if the alleged conspirator acted voluntarily or willfully and was not entrapped by the law enforcement officer or person acting at direction of the law enforcement officer. The bill also includes the methamphetamine precursor law as one of the drug offenses triggering an enhanced penalty for a conspiracy conviction. [Passed House 117-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate’s amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 27.

HB 665 Creates the Statewide Victims’ Information and Notification System Fund, and provides a criminal assessment on certain crimes to provide funding for the Statewide Victims’ Information and Notification System. [Passed House 115-4]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report. Approved by the Governor on April 21.

HB 727 Originally [Passed House 97-19], but failed after being twice brought back up on a motion to reconsider [Failed to Pass House on First Motion to Reconsider 56-61]; [Failed to Pass House on Second Motion to Reconsider 53-64]. Title the “Juvenile Transfer Reform Act of 2007,” the bill prohibits circuit courts from automatically imposing a mandatory sentence for any child under 17 who is under the court’s jurisdiction. Circuit courts are also prohibited from sentencing any child to life without parole. The bill further provides that when interrogating any child under 17, law enforcement must make continuing reasonable efforts to contact the child’s parents during questioning.

HB 750 Creates a state private investigators law. The bill also creates the Mississippi State Board of Private Investigator Examiners, establishing qualifications to the board, and providing powers and duties of the board. The Mississippi State Board of Private Investigator Examiners is authorized to determine the scope, form, and qualifications for licensure. [Passed House 118-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 762 Allows any person convicted of a first criminal offense (with the exception of crimes against the person, offenses affecting children, and offenses pertaining to the sale, barter, transfer, manufacture, distribution or dispensing of a controlled substance, and/or the possession with intent to sell, barter, transfer, manufacture, distribution or dispensing of specific controlled substances) to petition the circuit court in which he or she was convicted for an order to expunge the conviction from all public records 2 years after the successful completion of all the terms and conditions of the sentence for such conviction. There would still be a non-public record of the crime for the purpose of use in determining whether such person is a first offender. [Passed House 62-54]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 807 Creates the crime of deprivation of rights under the color of law on the account of alienage, race, religious belief, or sexual orientation. [Passed House 90-27]. The bill [Passed Senate 31-20], but failed by a vote of 14-27 after entry of a motion to reconsider.

HB 816 Provides that for a person to be charged with headlighting a deer at night, that person must have been observed committing an overt act consistent with the hunting of deer at night with the aid of a lighting device or light amplifying device. The bill also allows a first-time violator 21 years old or older, to petition the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks to have his hunting privileges restored after 1 year from date of conviction, after payment of a $500 reinstatement fee. The bill makes it unlawful for a person to shine a light from a public road or right-of-way, or on property of another, at night from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise, but exempts certain situations. [Passed House 118-1]; [Passed Senate as Amended 51-0]. The Senate unanimously adopted the conference report, and the House adopted it by a vote of 120-2. Approved by the Governor on April 18. See also SB 2883, which died in committee in the House.

HB 857 Clarifies that the taking away of any motor vehicle, including joyriding, will constitute a felony. [Passed House 118-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 51-0]. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate’s amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 26.

HB 860 Revises the offense of defacing, removing, or destroying signs to encompass memorials, and other historical or cultural markers. Such an offense is considered a felony, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $10,000. [Passed House 117-2]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 882 Increases the maximum penalty from 5 to 10 years for possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. [Passed House 113-3]; [Passed Senate as Amended 51-0]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report. Approved by the Governor on April 18.

HB 888 Revises the definition of sexual intercourse in the statutory rape statute [Passed House 114-0]; [Passed Senate 51-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 14.

HB 898 Increases civil contempt fines upon employers who refuse to comply with income withholding orders. The basic penalty is increased from $100 to $500, and where failure to comply is the result of collusion between the payor and the obligor, the fine is increased from $500 to $1,000. [Passed House 116-1]; [Passed Senate 51-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 14. See also SB 2687, which passed both Houses and was approved by the Governor on March 12.

HB 905 Revises various provisions of the Mississippi Code regarding domestic violence, including allowing the use of recordings of emergency phone calls to be used in the prosecution of criminal offenses. The bill also makes various revisions to domestic violence and abuse laws. [Passed House 120-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The bill ultimately died in conference committee.

HB 982 Amends currently law to include enhanced penalties for crimes committed against disabled persons. [Passed House 119-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 1015 Amends the sex offender registration law to conform to the federal Adam Walsh Act. The bill includes a conviction in a foreign country as a registrable sex offense and expands the definition of sex offense. The bill also clarifies reporting of residency, revises when the duty to register shall attach, includes change of name as a reportable event, requires current photograph on every reregistration and requires issuance of a sex offender registration card, includes kidnapping of a child under 18 as a registrable offense, requires notice to the employer by a sex offender to be in writing, requires registration as a condition of probation for convicted sex offenders, and requires sex offenders to obtain a new driver’s license or identification card that identifies the individual as a sex offender. [Passed House 117-0]; [Passed Senate 50-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 15. See also SB 2668 which [Passed Senate 52-0], but ultimately died on the House calendar.

HB 1028 Makes it unlawful for any person to represent to any retailer that purchases of merchandise are for resale, causing the retailer to not collect the tax imposed by sales tax law, when in fact the purchase is being made for use of the person. The bill also makes it unlawful for any person to use another person’s permit to engage in business for the purpose of avoiding the payment of taxes imposed by sales tax law. The bill also makes it unlawful for any person to use an exemption authorized under sales tax law for the purpose of avoiding the payment of tax he is required to pay under the sales tax law. [Passed House 118-1]; [Passed Senate 50-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 15. See also SB 2367 which [Passed Senate 52-0], but ultimately died in committee in the House.

HB 1079 Authorizes a municipality to immobilize a motor vehicle if the record title owner owes traffic or parking fines totaling over $200. The bill also provides that a governing authority of a municipality may not enforce an ordinance regulating or restricting parking on any public street or roadway unless signage that adequately describes the parking regulation or restriction is posted within 250 feet of the regulated or restricted portion of the street or roadway. [Passed House 107-10]; [Passed Senate as Amended 49-1]. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate’s amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 27.

HB 1085 Revises the statute of limitations on actions founded on domestic judgments or decrees. [Passed House 119-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 1104 Increases the fine for the grossly negligent preparation of a tax return from $50 to $500. The bill lists certain actions deemed to be grossly negligent, and requires the Chairman of the State Tax Commission to seek an injunction to prevent an offender from continuing the preparation of returns. [Passed House 118-1]; [Passed Senate 51-0]. Approved by the Governor March 15.

HB 1114 Authorizes the governing authorities of municipalities with populations of at least 15,000 to assess an additional surcharge not to exceed $1 for each violation of Title 63 (traffic law) and offense related to vehicular parking or registration. The bill also provides that the authorized surcharge shall be used solely for the municipal police department to offset the cost of implementation of certain computerized crime prevention measures and the equipment necessary for the department. [Passed House 85-34]; [Passed Senate as Amended 51-0]. The House voted 83-38 to concur with the Senate’s amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 26.

HB 1271 Authorizes the recovery of treble damages in a civil action for taking the property of a vulnerable adult if the property has a value of at least $250. [Passed House 118-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 51-0]. The Senate and House both unanimously adopted the conference report. Approved by the Governor on April 18.

HB 1303 Provides that a seized weapon shall be returned to the owner if the charges are dismissed or the defendant is acquitted. [Passed House 120-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 1308 Requires the State Department of Education to collaborate with other state and local agencies, local school districts, and juvenile detention centers to ensure that students in such centers are provided educational services. [Passed House 112-5]. The bill died in committee in the Senate. See also SB 2818, which requires a juvenile detention center to notify the school district officials on the first day following a student’s placement in the detention facility. The bill also requires a school district to provide a certified teacher to offer educational services to detainees. The bill allows a private provider to offer these educational services if agreed upon by the judge and sponsoring school district. The Legislature shall annually appropriate sufficient funds for the provision of educational services to detainees. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 119-1]. The House adopted the conference report by a vote of 119-3, and the Senate unanimously adopted it. Approved by the Governor on April 21.

HB 1498 Incorporates the changes to the Public Defenders Task Force made by HB 770. The bill creates the Division of Public Defenders Training in the Office of Indigent Appeals and creates the Public Defenders Education Fund. The bill also provides for a criminal assessment on certain crimes to fund the Public Defenders Training Fund. [Passed House 118-2]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-1]. The House adopted the conference report by a vote of 112-8, and the Senate unanimously adopted it. Approved by the Governor on April 20.

HB 1510 Creates the 12th Circuit Court Community Corrections Act of 2007, which among other things, creates the 12th Circuit Court Community Corrections Commission which oversees and operates its programs. [Passed House 87-29]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 1522 Amends victim compensation laws. The bill requires, at the victim’s request, a test for HIV on the defendant not later than 48 hours after indictment. If the case is dismissed, the defendant is found not guilty, or the case is not prosecuted within 3 years, records of testing will be returned to the accused or destroyed, unless the court retains for good cause. Allowable medical expenses are increased from $10,000 to $15,000 for medical care, and from $4,500 to $6,500 for funeral expenses. The time period for a claimant to contest a decision is expanded from 15 to 30 days, and the time for filing a claim is expanded from 24 to 36 months. The bill also provides that monies in the Crime Victim’s Compensation Fund will only be used for compensation to victims. Law enforcement officials are required to make a reasonable attempt to notify a victim of a defendant’s post-arrest release, and the victim has a right to be notified of a defendant’s custodial status. [Passed House 119-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The Senate and House both unanimously adopted the conference report. Approved by the Governor on April 21.

SB 2020 Requires counties to provide adequate security in justice court courtrooms. The bill also provides that there will be no trial by jury, civil or criminal, in justice court. [Passed Senate 50-0]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2091 Clarifies that the taking away of a motor vehicle, even joyriding, will constitute a felony. [Passed Senate 44-8]. The bill died in committee in the House. But see HB 857, a similar bill which passed both Houses and was approved by the Governor on March 26.

SB 2102 Increases from $2,500 to $15,000 the amount that may be offered by counties and cities as a reward for information leading to the apprehension of any person subsequently convicted of any crime or misdemeanor committed within this state, information regarding the whereabouts of missing persons, ascertaining or divulging of any information necessary or helpful for the governing or tranquility of any municipality or county of this state, or for any like purpose. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 117-0]. The Senate unanimously concurred with the House amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 30.

SB 2209 Requires the Bureau of Vital Statistics of the State Board of Health to notify the DA when it appears that a minor below the age of consent has conceived a child as a result of statutory rape or sexual battery. [Passed Senate 50-0]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2264 Requires all health care providers, coroners, and law enforcement officers to notify the Bureau of Narcotics of all drug overdose deaths within 24 hours. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House 120-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 12.

SB 2365 Increases the penalty for grossly negligent preparation of an income tax return by a preparer, and clarifies the actions considered to be grossly negligent. [Passed Senate 52-0]. The bill died in committee in the House. But see HB 1104 which passed both Houses, and was approved by the Governor on March 15.

SB 2454 Requires completion of the alcohol safety program known as MASEP before reinstatement of a person’s driver’s license when suspended for DUI. [Passed Senate 51-0]; [Passed House 117-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 22.

SB 2457 Clarifies that alcohol and drug treatment is discretionary with judge, and the cost to the state shall be added to the inmate’s court cost to be paid by the inmate either prior to incarceration or as a part of probation. [Passed Senate 51-0]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2459 Provides that a convicted felon who uses or displays a firearm during the commission of a felony shall be sentenced to a term of 10 years in addition to, and run consecutive to, any other sentence. The additional sentence is not subject to reduction or suspension. [Passed Senate 50-2]; [Passed House 120-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 13.

SB 2512 Requires that any person objecting to admissibility of certified copies of documents authenticated by the Mississippi Justice Information Center challenge the document using existing procedure for challenging records in the custody of the Justice Information Center. The bill also requires any criminal justice department or agency spending in excess of $5,000 in a single calendar year on software or programming upgrades to ensure that the upgrade are formatted to Department of Justice-approved XML format, without impediments to sharing data with other agencies. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House 122-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 22.

SB 2549 Removes the prohibition against dumping dead wildlife on streets, roads, highways and private property from general litter prohibition. Such dumping is punishable by a fine of not less than $200 and not more than $400. In addition, a first offense may (and subsequent offense shall) be required to remove the dead wildlife, restore property, pay for damages, and pay reasonable investigative and prosecutorial costs. [Passed Senate 49-0]; [House Passed as Amended 117-0]. The Senate unanimously concurred with the House amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 30.

SB 2574 Revises the 270-day speedy trial requirement to allow an extension for good cause shown by the prosecution, and upon agreement by the court. [Passed Senate 52-0]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2582 Provides that a person under house arrest cannot leave the state except in cases of medical emergencies approved by the Commissioner of Corrections and for medical purposes by circuit court order. [Passed Senate 50-0]; [Passed House as Amended 117-0]. The House adopted the conference report by a vote of 117-3, and the Senate unanimously adopted it. Approved by the Governor on April 21.

SB 2583 Allows the Department of Corrections to give electronic notice of release of an inmate. [Passed Senate 50-0]; [Passed House 119-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 15.

SB 2584 Removes the limitation on the total amount of meritorious earned time that may be earned by an offender [Passed Senate 50-0]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2668 Amends the sex offender registration law to conform to the federal Adam Walsh Act. [Passed Senate 52-0]. The bill passed out of committee in the House, but died on the House calendar. But see HB 1015, which passed both Houses and was approved by the Governor on March 15.

SB 2687 Increases the maximum civil penalty that may be assessed against a payor who willfully fails to pay over income pursuant to a valid order for withholding for child support is increased to $500 (from $100), and in cases where the failure to comply is the result of collusion between the payor and obligee, to $1,000 (from $500). [Passed Senate 51-0]; [Passed House 117-2]. Approved by the Governor on March 12. See also HB 898, which passed both Houses and was approved by the Governor on March 14.

SB 2772 Authorizes the Department of Public Safety to issue a permit to carry a stun gun on the same basis as it issues permits to carry a concealed weapon. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 97-20]. The Senate unanimously concurred with the House amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 30.

SB 2781 Provides that any person whose license has been suspended for failure to appear, or failure to pay a fine or fee, or conviction of any misdemeanor, may apply to the court for issuance of a limited license. The court shall order payments in an amount reasonably calculated to pay the entire amount owed within 1 year as a condition of receiving the limited license. [Passed Senate 52-0]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2782 Provides for temporary detention by a peace officer of a person suspected of criminal behavior or of violating conditions of parole or probation in conformity to the Terry stop case). [Passed Senate 45-6]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2804 Provides that first-time offenders for selling a small quantity of drugs may be eligible for parole, and enumerates various factors considerable in determining parole. [Passed Senate 31-17]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2825 Creates a new misdemeanor for a sex offender to be present within 500 feet of school property when children under 18 are present. The bill does not apply to a sex offender who is present at a school to vote if it is his polling place. Exceptions are created for a student who is a sex offender, or for a sex offender who has a child enrolled at a particular school, but the latter situation requires permission of the principal or school board. It is a defense that the sex offender did not or could not have reasonably known that the school property or vehicle was covered in the act. Violation of the bill can result in a fine not to exceed $1,000 and/or jail time not to exceed 6 months. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 120-0]. The House adopted the conference report by a vote of 118-1, and the Senate unanimously adopted it. Approved by the Governor on April 21.

SB 2883 Prescribe certain elements that constitute headlighting deer, and provides for an appeal of a 3 year forfeiture of hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses after a 1 year suspension. The bill also creates and provides penalties for a lesser offense of harassing wildlife at night. [Passed Senate 51-0]. The bill died in committee in the House. But see HB 816, which passed both Houses and was approved by the Governor on April 18.

SB 3025 Provides that a person convicted of manslaughter, burglary of a dwelling place, or felony DUI is not eligible for trusty time allowance and reduction of sentence. [Passed Senate 49-0]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 3036 Revises the domestic violence protective order statutes. The bill requires courts to establish procedures for handling protective order matters expeditiously, and authorizes a standard form for protective orders to be developed and provided by the Attorney General’s office. The bill clarifies temporary ex parte order procedures in justice courts, removes authority of municipal courts to issue protective orders, and adds authority to circuit courts. The bill also authorizes the Attorney General’s office to establish a protective order registry. [Passed Senate 50-0]; [Passed House as Amended 120-0]. The House adopted the conference report by a vote of 119-3, and the Senate unanimously adopted it. Approved by the Governor on April 21.

Business Issues (see also Gov’t Regulation and Eminent Domain)

HB 237 Titled the “Mississippi Working Person’s Act,” the bill increases the state minimum wage to $6.25/hour beginning July 1, 2007 and to $7.25/hour beginning January 15, 2008. The Act also contains provisions for “tipped” employees (those receiving more than $30 per month in tips). Tipped employees must be compensated–minus any tips–at no less than 50% of the effective minimum wage. [Passed House 68-50]. The bill was amended prior to its passage to exempt part-time high school or college employees who work 20 hours or less per week. [Amendment Passed House 64-54]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 260 Prohibits the sales of gift certificates with expiration dates, service fees, or dormancy fees. The bill also allows for cash redemption or replacement of gift certificates. [Passed House 91-27]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 296 Increases unemployment benefits to no more than $230/week for the benefit year that begins July 1, 2007, and then to no more than $250/week for any benefit year that begins on and after July 1, 2008. [Passed House 86-33]. The bill passed out of committee in the Senate, but ultimately died on the Senate calendar.

HB 355 Requires the premiums on builder’s risk insurance policies for public construction projects to be borne by the governmental entity for which the project is performed. [Passed House 72-46]. Following a motion to reconsider, the bill died on the House calendar.

HB 363 Authorizes the State Board of Contractors to employ personnel to monitor out-of-state contractors. [Passed House 117-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 656; SB 3034 Requires a consumer reporting agency to place a security freeze in a consumer’s file not later than the 5th business day after the date the agency receives a request by certified mail, including proper identification provided by the consumer and a copy of the valid police report, investigative report, or complaint. A consumer reporting agency shall, within 3 business days after the agency receives the request, temporarily lift the security freeze for a certain properly designated period or properly identified requester. The bill also provides that a security freeze does not apply to consumer reports provided to certain governmental entities and/or persons. SB 3034 [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 118-0]. The Senate adopted the conference report by a vote of 48-4, and the House unanimously adopted it. Approved by the Governor on April 21. HB 656, a bill of the same effect [Passed House 118-0], but died in committee in the Senate.

HB 657 Requires each consumer reporting agencies to provide a consumer with one disclosure copy of his or her file 2 times per year at no charge. The bill also provides the procedure to follow in case of disputed accuracy of information in a consumer’s file. [Passed House 116-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 658 Authorizes the Commissioner of Banking to examine companies or offices suspected of conducting business that requires a charter, license, or registration under the laws governing trust institutions. [Passed House 120-0]; [Passed Senate 51-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 14.

HB 704 Revises the definition of “private carrier of property” under the Motor Vehicle Privilege Tax Laws to mean any person (or employee of such person) transporting farm products, supplies, materials and/or equipment used in the growing or production of his own agricultural products in his own truck; any person transporting his own fish in his own truck; any person (or employee of such person) transporting unprocessed forest products, or timber harvesting equipment, in his own truck. [Passed House 120-0]; [Passed Senate 52-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 26.

HB 781 Requires the governing authorities of counties and municipalities to enact leave policies to ensure that public safety employees are paid or granted compensatory time for the same number of holidays for which other county and municipal employees are paid. [Passed House 118-2]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report. Approved by the Governor on April 18.

HB 844 Titled “The Mississippi Vehicle Protection Product Act,” the bill provides that any vehicle protection device, system, or program sold within the state with a warranty must meet certain requirements. The Act further imposes certain duties on warrantors, including a duty to register annually with the Mississippi Motor Vehicle Commission, and to provide certain information regarding the warrantor, such as place of business and warranty used. Warrantors are also required to maintain warranty reimbursement insurance or prove solvency by establishing and maintaining a net worth of $50 million in stockholders’ equity. The Mississippi Motor Vehicle Commission is charged with administration of the Act and is authorized to adopt and enforce rules relating to its implementation. [Passed House 118-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate’s amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 27. See also SB 3028 which [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 113-0], but ultimately died on the Senate calendar.

HB 947 Creates a new section of law to authorize the recordation of heirship and other affidavits pertaining to real estate titles, and to provide for the admissibility of such affidavits when recorded. [Passed House 118-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 51-0]. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate’s amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 26.

HB 963 Following proper notice, increases the time within which the Chairman of the State Tax Commission must demand payment of sales tax and damages assessed for failure to file a sales tax return, and the time within which a taxpayer may pay the tax in lieu of such assessment. [Passed House 118-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate. But see SB 2414 [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House 117-0]. SB 2414 was approved by the Governor on March 15.

HB 1006 Provides that the beneficiary or holder of any deed of trust, including agents, employees, successors, assigns, attorneys-in-fact, or other legal representatives, may appoint a trustee or substitute trustee with or without the permission of the mortgagor(s). [Passed House 119-0]; [Passed Senate 51-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 15.

HB 1012 Increases the minimum amount of expenditures for which the competitive bid process is required. Purchases not exceeding $5,000 (increased from $3,500) may be made without any competitive bids. Purchases exceeding $5,000 (increased from $3,500) but not exceeding $25,000 (increased from ($15,000) require 2 bids. Purchases exceeding $25,000 (increased from $15,000) require advertising and competitive bids. [Passed House 118-2]; [Passed Senate 50-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 20.

HB 1016 Revises the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS). The bill increases the number of years of membership service required to vest in PERS from 4 to 8 years. If a PERS member withdraws from state service and receives a refund before July 1, 2007, then reenters state service and becomes a PERS member on or after July 1, 2007 and repays the refund, the member will be considered to have become a PERS member on or after July 1, 2007, subject to the 8 year membership requirement. The partial lump-sum distribution option is limited to those who have 28 or more years of creditable service at the time of retirement for persons who become members on or after July 1, 2007. [Passed House 113-5]; [Passed Senate 46-2]. Approved by the Governor on March 16.

HB 1018 Allows the sale or interstate transportation of products made from deer bone, any part of a wild turkey except the meat, and any parts of nuisance animals. [Passed House 118-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The House voted 121-1 to concur with the Senate’s amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 27.

HB 1019 Removes the requirement that a licensed hunter, who supervises a child hunting without the required hunter education certificate, must be a resident of Mississippi. The bill now allows any hunter possessing a valid Mississippi license for the species being hunted to supervise a child. [Passed House 118-1]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate’s version. Approved by the Governor on March 27.

HB 1027 Authorizes the chairman of the State Tax Commission to revoke or refuse to issue a permit for failure to comply with provisions of the Mississippi Motor Vehicle Dealer Tag Permit Law or for failure to satisfy any of his finally determined tax liabilities. “Finally determined tax liabilities” means any state tax, fee, penalty and/or interest owed where the assessment is not subject to any further timely filed administrative or judicial review. [Passed House 119-0]; [Passed Senate 51-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 15.

HB 1070 Revises the authority under the public purchasing laws for state agencies and local governing authorities to negotiate with the lowest bidder whose bid is more than 10% of the funds allocated for a project in order to enter into a contract for an amount within the funds allocated for a project [Passed House 118-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 1142 Creates an incentive program for persons, corporations, or other entities that incur costs to locate certain tourism projects in the state. The bill provides a list of “tourism projects” approved by the Mississippi Development Authority, which charged with administering the incentive program. The bill also creates the Tourism Project Sales Tax Incentive Fund. The measure allows investors to rebate up to 30% of the estimated cost of the project paid out over up to 10 years. The bill exempts entities with gaming licenses, or any project in which a corporation or entity holding a gaming license has a direct or indirect financial interest, from qualifying for such incentives [Passed House 118-2]. [Passed Senate as Amended 49-2]. The House adopted the conference report by a vote of 120-1, and the Senate by a vote of 51-1. Approved by the Governor on April 21. See also SB 3004, which died in committee in the House.

HB 1164 Increases the fee charged by chancery clerks for collection of delinquent taxes from 1% to 3% on the amount necessary to redeem, and increases the fee from $20 to $50 for examination of records to ascertain the property owner before a tax sale. [Passed House 93-25]; [Passed Senate 50-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 15.

HB 1176 Revises the definition of the practice of engineering to exclude expert testimony. [Passed House 78-38]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 1224 Creates a committee for the study of potential state regulation of private security services within the state. [Passed House 119-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

HB 1248 Revises the definition of “hotel” to mean any entity or individual engaged in the business of furnishing or providing 1 or more rooms intended for dwelling, lodging, or sleeping purposes that will accommodate transient guests and that are known to the trade as such; this revision clarifies the types of entities subject to sales tax as hotels. The bill also provides that the entities described above will be included within the definition of “hotel” or “motel” for the purposes of any tax levied and collected under local and private laws of Mississippi. The definition does not encompass such entities for purposes of local and private tax, unless municipal governing authorities adopt a resolution declaring intent to include such entities for tax purposes.[Passed House 119-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 47-3]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report. Approved by the Governor on April 18. See also SB 3006, which died in Senate conference committee.

HB 1330 Defines “emergency” and “critical need” for purposes of exemption from the requirement of funding capital improvements projects involving state buildings in 2 phases. The bill requires that construction projects funded with state bond funds or other state funds authorized for community and junior colleges be administered through the 2-phase planning process. [Passed House 99-21]; [Passed Senate as Amended 51-0]. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report. Approved by the Governor on April 18.

HB 1379 The bill initially caused considerable controversy and failed by a vote of 42-75. However, on February 9, an amended version of the bill passed which simply requires that Mississippi employers comply with federal guidelines for verification of an employee’s true identity and work authorization. [Passed House 77-41]. Titled the “Mississippi Employment Protection Act,” the bill had originally set forth procedures for verifying work authorization and legal status of newly hired employees. The bill had also imposed penalties upon employers for non-compliance. Following an unsuccessful attempt to recommit the bill to committee [43-75], 7 of a total of 9 proposed amendments were adopted in an effort to essentially cause the bill to fail. Notably, the first proposed amendment created a “Mississippi Department of Labor.” [First amendment failed 56-62]. Additionally, the second amendment imposed the same minimum wage requirement as found in HB 237. [Second amendment passed 64-54]. In the end, the adopted amendments so altered the bill that the bill’s own author (Rep. Mike Lott, R-Petal) voted against the measure. The Senate passed an amended version of HB 1379 which requires state employers to follow the verification of employment procedures prescribed in federal law. The amended version also creates a task force to determine the necessity of legislation regarding immigration and alien certification [Passed Senate as Amended 37-6]. The Senate adopted the conference report by a vote of 42-10, but the Speaker ultimately ruled the bill as improperly before the House.

HB 1390 Revises the definition of “private company” under the Mississippi Small Enterprise Development Finance Act to include any commercial enterprise approved by the Mississippi Business Finance Corporation. The bill also provides that the term “private company” does not include any business, corporation, or entity having a gaming license. [Passed House 118-0]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate’s version. Approved by the Governor on March 26.

HB 1492 Authorizes the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks to lease certain park lands for commercial and/or residential development. [Passed House 84-34]. The bill died in committee in the Senate. But see HB 1691, the appropriation bill for the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, which gives the department the authority to close, transfer, lease, or sell properties under the department’s jurisdiction for its support and maintenance. The final conference report on HB 1691 unanimously passed both Houses. Approved by the Governor on April 21.

HB 1500 Titled the “Mississippi Economic Growth and Redevelopment Act of 2007,” the bill is intended to stimulate growth and redevelopment within all areas of the state by promoting the availability of affordable commercial and residential casualty loss insurance. Notably, the bill reorganizes the Mississippi Windstorm Underwriting Association as a separate and independent entity and establishes the Mississippi Windstorm Underwriting Association Reinsurance Assistance Fund. The Reinsurance Assistance Fund may be funded up to $50 million and is to be used only to defray the costs of reinsurance. The Act also provides tax credits to taxpayers in coastal areas for certain increases in annual state insurance premiums. [Passed House 116-0]. After adding some additional amendments, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 46-0. The House and Senate both unanimously adopted the conference report, which allows insurers to recoup losses from a major coastal disaster by adding a surcharge to their policies. Additionally, the Windstorm Underwriting Association will receive a $80 million subsidy over a 4 year period to lower rates on coverage for wind damage. Approved by the Governor on March 22.

HB 1537 Authorizes and prescribes the procedures for using the dual-phase design-build method of construction contracting. The bill prescribes the procedures to be followed in each of the 2 phases required for all proposed dual-phase design-build projects. The bill also exempts contracts for the design-build method and dual-phase design-build method of contracting from state bid requirements. [Passed House 117-1]; [Passed Senate as Amended 50-0]. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate’s amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 27.

HB 1628 Clarifies the maximum income tax credit of $10,000 for eligible owners for approved reforestation practices for eligible tree species on eligible lands in any 1 year, and increases the maximum dollar amount of credit available to $75,000 during owner’s lifetime. [Passed House 118-0]; [Passed Senate 51-1]. Approved by the Governor on March 26.

HB 1724 Creates certain technology development programs administered by the Mississippi Technology Alliance (MTA) and authorizes state general obligation bonds to provide funding. The bill makes assistance available for seed and early stage capital to small and medium sized Mississippi businesses with high growth potential that are engaged in research and development activities in partnership with a Mississippi university, college, and/or community/junior college. The amount of assistance that a business may received cannot exceed $100,000 in any one year, and cannot exceed $200,000 in the aggregate. The bill also provides authorization of state general obligation bonds to fund the Mississippi New Technology Business Program (Levels 1 and 2), the Rural Innovation Program (Levels 1 and 2), and the Mississippi Technology Alliance, for administration of the programs. [Passed House 95-22]; [Passed Senate 50-2]. Approved by the Governor on March 26.

SB 2021 Provides an exclusive remedy for suits based on injuries that arise out of the use of a product, regardless of how the legal theory is framed. [Passed Senate 31-14]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2022 Requires disclosure of a personal gift in excess of $200 from any litigant or lawyer to a judge who has a matter pending before such judge. [Passed Senate 52-0]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2141 Authorizes recordation of heirship and other affidavits pertaining to real estate titles, and provides for the admissibility of such affidavits when recorded. [Passed Senate 50-0]. The House passed an amended version of the bill by a vote of 120-0 which imposes a 3 year statute of limitations to challenge marketability of title, or to bring any other action relating to title. The bill ultimately died in conference committee.

SB 2213 Removes certain restrictions on types of bonds and foreign government securities in which the Public Employees’ Retirement System may invest. The bill provides that documentary material or data made or received by the Public Employees’ Retirement System which consists of trade secrets or commercial or financial information are exempt from the Mississippi Public Records Act of 1983, if the disclosure of such material is likely to impair the system’s ability to obtain such information in the future, or is likely to cause substantial harm to the competitive position of the person or entity. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House 115-1]. Approved by the Governor on March 7.

SB 2217 Increases the fees charged by chancery clerks for filing and indexing each notice of lien. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House 92-26]. Approved by the Governor on March 13.

SB 2268 Increases certain fees charged by sheriffs and constables for service of process. The uniform total fee increases from $25 to $35 for sheriffs. The bill also increases the fee for both constables and sheriffs from $25 to $35 for service of process on further proceedings after final judgment has been enrolled. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House 100-20]. Approved by the Governor on March 13.

SB 2342 Allows qualified nonprofit animal shelter organizations approved by the Board of Animal Health to receive funds from the Animal Care Fund. The Board of Animal Health is authorized to use no more than $2,000 from the fund for administrative expenses. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House 117-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 15.

SB 2343 Requires all employees and applicants for employment with the Department of Banking and Consumer Finance to be fingerprinted to determine suitability for employment as examiners or assistants. The Department shall pay all costs in connection with criminal history record check procedure, and such record checks shall not be used for any other purpose than to determine suitability for employment. [Passed Senate 51-0]; [Passed House 122-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 22.

SB 2375 Authorizes the Mississippi Transportation Commission, with other governmental or private entities, to design, finance, construct, operate and maintain new toll roads. Governmental contracts with private companies cannot exceed 30 years and cannot be extended or renewed. Public notice and a public hearing must be given before setting or changing the amount of the tolls. [Passed Senate 51-1]; [Passed House as Amended 114-4]. The House adopted the conference report by a vote of 117-4, and the Senate unanimously adopted it. Approved by the Governor on April 21. See also HB 351 which authorizes the Mississippi Transportation Commission and local government entities to construct and finance toll roads. [Passed House 114-4]; [Passed Senate as Amended 48-0]. The bill ultimately died in conference committee.

SB 2387 Authorizes the contractor’s tax (3-1/2% of the contract price levied on persons performing construction contracts when compensation received exceeds $10,000) to be levied on the contract price of apartment buildings and condominiums. [Passed Senate 51-0]; [Passed House 118-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 22.

SB 2399 Requires employers to withhold 5% of the amount paid to an individual if the compensation is reported on form 1099, and the individual has failed to provide a taxpayer identification number or has provided an Internal Revenue Service issued taxpayer identification number issued for nonresident aliens. [Passed Senate 51-0]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2431 Revises civil procedures for collection of a bad check. If the check is $25 or less, a service charge of $30 is collectable, plus reasonable attorney’s fees. If the amount of the check is above $25, a service charge is $40 plus reasonable attorney’s fees. The bill allows aggregation of any number of bad checks by a single drawer into a single lawsuit without regard to venue, and expands current law to include electronic funds transfers. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 87-31]. The Senate unanimously concurred with the House’s amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 26.

SB 2497 Authorizes the Mississippi Development Authority to provide loans to counties and municipalities under the existing Industry Productivity Loan Program to assist certain industries in deploying long-term fixed assets that will improve productivity and competitiveness. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 117-0]. The bill ultimately died in conference committee.

SB 2509 Adopts document formatting standards for certain instruments filed with the clerk of the chancery court, and provides for the payment of a fee for nonconforming documents. [Passed Senate 52-0]. The bill passed out of committee in the House, but ultimately died on the House calendar.

SB 2531 Authorizes the Mississippi Development Authority to extend the state tax exemptions under the Growth and Prosperity Act for not more than 2 years for business enterprises that are unable to use the tax exemptions as a result of certain disasters, and to authorize those business enterprises to purchase replacement equipment and component materials exempt from sales and use tax. [Passed Senate 50-0]; [Passed House 122-0]. However, the bill died on the House calendar after a motion to reconsider was entered.

SB 2561 Revises the definition of “private company” under the Mississippi Small Enterprise Development Act to include any commercial enterprise approved by the Mississippi Business Finance Corporation. [Passed Senate 50-1]. The bill died in committee in the House. But see HB 1390, which passed both Houses and was approved by the Governor on March 26.

SB 2621 Provides that benefits commuted by order of the Workers’ Compensation Commission shall be discounted to present value using valid actuarial tables as the commission finds equitable and consistent with the purposes of the Workers’ Compensation Law. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House 118-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 15.

SB 2737 Provides that the condition that a portion of a redevelopment project constructed under the tax increment financing with private funds in advance of the issuance of bonds may be reimbursed only if the developer dedicates the project to the municipality, shall not apply to the privately owned portion of a redevelopment project where the governing body of a municipality makes a finding that it is in the best interest of the municipality that the condition not apply. [Passed Senate 51-0]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2746 Provides the minimum ownership requirements for CPA firms, and provides that appointments to the State Board of Public Accountancy be made from the 4 congressional districts on a phased-in basis. The bill also revises the subpoena power of the State Board of Public Accountancy and authorizes the board to impose a civil penalty against persons adjudged to have violated certain public accounting regulatory laws. [Passed Senate 51-0]; [Passed House as Amended 120-0]. The Senate unanimously concurred with the House amended version. Approved by the Governor on March 26.

SB 2809 Provides that when there are one or more lien holders shown in an auto insurance policy or confirmed in writing by the insured before the loss, an auto insurer paying a claim under comprehensive or collision coverage shall add as payee on the check, in addition to the name of the insured, name of the auto repair business, or name of the lien holder. When payment is made to a lien holder, he shall pay any balance owed to the debtor within 60 days after receipt of the check. In the case of a total loss, the insurer may issue separate checks to the lien holder and to the insured. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House as Amended 108-8]. The Senate unanimously adopted the conference report, and the House adopted it by a vote of 114-4. Approved by the Governor on April 21.

SB 2821 Increases number of years of membership service required to vest in the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) for persons who become members on or after July 1, 2007 [Passed Senate 49-2]; [Passed House as Amended 113-5]. The bill ultimately died in conference committee. But see HB 1016, which passed both Houses and was approved by the Governor on March 16.

SB 2986 Creates the Mississippi Peanut Promotion Board to promote growth and development of the peanut industry. The board consists of 5 members appointed to staggered terms by the Governor. The bill also provides for an assessment of $2.50 per ton net weight to be levied on peanuts grown in the state or delivered to the first point of sale within the state. Peanut growers may receive a refund of assessments paid by filing a written application of refund within 60 days of the date of sale. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House 119-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 13.

SB 2897 Requires labor used on public works to be performed by workmen and laborers who are legal citizens of the U.S. or legal aliens. The bill also requires public work contracts to include a provision requiring the contractor be in compliance with state and federal laws, and revises the penalty for violating such labor requirements. [Passed Senate 34-9]; [Passed House as Amended 91-29]. The bill ultimately died in conference committee.

SB 2997 Amends the Mississippi Motion Picture Incentive Act to provide that a motion picture production company shall be entitled to a rebate of a portion of the base investment made. The amount of the rebate is equal to 20% of the first $1 million invested, 25% of the next $4 million invested, 30% of base investment greater than $5 million. A motion picture production company may also receive rebate of 10% of the portion of base investment for payroll paid for any employee who is not a resident whose wages are subject to Mississippi Income Withholding Law and less than $1 million. Total rebates shall not exceed $5 million. [Passed Senate 51-0]; [Passed House 118-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 13.

SB 3000 Provides a surcharge on deed of trust filings for Mortgage Lending Fraud prosecution, and creates a Mortgage Lending Fraud Prosecution Fund [Passed Senate 47-3]; [Failed to Pass House 18-100]. A motion to reconsider was entered in the House, but the bill ultimately died on the House calendar.

SB 3006 Revises definition of “hotel” in order to reflect changes in the hotel industry of Mississippi and comply with state sales tax requirements. [Passed Senate 45-5]; [Passed House as Amended 118-0]. The bill ultimately died in conference committee. But see HB 1248, which passed both Houses and was approved by the Governor on April 18.

SB 3042 Exempts from certain federal regulations small commercial vehicles with a gross weight rating of less than 26,000 pounds, and which only operate intrastate. The exemption does not apply to such vehicles that transport hazardous material requiring a placard, or that transport 16 or more passengers including the driver. [Passed Senate 52-0]; [Passed House 119-0]. Approved by the Governor on March 7.

SB 3103 Revises the definition of “private carrier of property” under the Motor Vehicle Privilege Tax Law to include any person or employee of such person transporting farm products, supplies, materials and/or equipment used in the growing or production of his agricultural product in his own truck. [Passed Senate 50-2]; [Passed House as Amended 121-0]. After being returned for concurrence, the bill died on the Senate calendar.

Immigration

HB 1379 The bill initially caused considerable controversy and failed by a vote of 42-75. However, on February 9, an amended version of the bill passed which simply requires that Mississippi employers comply with federal guidelines for verification of an employee’s true identity and work authorization. [Passed House 77-41]. Titled the “Mississippi Employment Protection Act,” the bill had originally set forth procedures for verifying work authorization and legal status of newly hired employees. The bill had also imposed penalties upon employers for non-compliance. Following an unsuccessful attempt to recommit the bill to committee [43-75], 7 of a total of 9 proposed amendments were adopted in an effort to essentially cause the bill to fail. Notably, the first proposed amendment created a “Mississippi Department of Labor.” [First amendment failed 56-62]. Additionally, the second amendment imposed the same minimum wage requirement as found in HB 237. [Second amendment passed 64-54]. In the end, the adopted amendments so altered the bill that the bill’s own author (Rep. Mike Lott, R-Petal) voted against the measure. The Senate passed an amended version of HB 1379 which requires state employers to follow the verification of employment procedures prescribed in federal law. The amended version also creates a task force to determine the necessity of legislation regarding immigration and alien certification [Passed Senate as Amended 37-6]. The Senate adopted the conference report by a vote of 42-10, but the Speaker ultimately ruled the bill as improperly before the House.

HB 1144 Requires aliens of foreign countries to pay out-of-state tuition at state universities and colleges, regardless of their place of domicile or immigration status. [Passed House 84-33]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.

SB 2123 Requires adult applicants for public benefits in Mississippi to verify U.S. citizenship or lawful residence to be eligible. The bill also provides procedures and exceptions for such verification, and provides criminal penalties for wilfull violations of lawful presence requirements. The bill requires the Division of Medicaid, the Department of Human Services, the Office of Unemployment Security, and the Mississippi Housing Authorities to require applicants to verify lawful presence under the bill. [Passed Senate 43-7]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2399 Requires employers to withhold 5% of the amount paid to an individual if the compensation is reported on form 1099, and the individual has failed to provide a taxpayer identification number or has provided an Internal Revenue Service issued taxpayer identification number issued for nonresident aliens. [Passed Senate 51-0]. The bill died in committee in the House.

SB 2897 Requires labor used on public works to be performed by workmen and laborers who are legal citizens of the U.S. or legal aliens. The bill also requires public work contracts to include a provision requiring the contractor be in compliance with state and federal laws, and revises the penalty for violating such labor requirements. [Passed Senate 34-9]; [Passed House as Amended 91-29]. The bill ultimately died in conference committee.

Miscellaneous

HB 1220 Designates June 19 as a day of commemoration for “Juneteenth Freedom Day,” which is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth Freedom Day is expressly recognized as a day of commemoration, not a legal holiday. [Passed House 120-0]. The bill died in committee in the Senate.