What survived Tuesday's committee deadline?

By Steve Wilson
March 6, 2019

Tuesday was the third big deadline in the Mississippi legislature for general, non-revenue, bills to be approved by committees from the opposite chamber.

Not a single bill that authorized a cigarette tax survived Tuesday’s deadline.

The next deadline is March 13, the last day for floor action on general bills originating from the other chamber.

Here are the some of the bills that survived and others that died:

Still alive

House Bill 1352 is sponsored by state Rep. Jason White (R-West) and is known as the Criminal Justice Reform Act. The bill would clear obstacles for the formerly incarcerated to find work, prevents driver’s license suspensions for controlled substance violations and unpaid legal fees and fines, and updates drug court laws to allow for additional types of what are known as problem solving courts.

The bill was passed by the Senate Judiciary A Committee Tuesday before the deadline and is headed to the Senate floor for a vote.

SB 2781, known as Mississippi Fresh Start Act, is sponsored by state Sen. John Polk (R-Hattiesburg). This bill would eliminate the practice of “good character” or “moral turpitude” clauses from occupational licensing regulations, which prohibit ex-offenders from receiving an occupational license and starting a new post-incarceration career.

The bill was amended with a strike-all that made it identical to the original House bill. It was then approved by the House Judiciary A Committee.

HB 1268 would clarify state law regarding constitutional challenges to local ordinances. With local circuit courts acting as both the appellate body for appeals on specific decisions (such as bid disputes) and the court of original jurisdiction, there’s been confusion among judges regarding the law that governs challenges of local decisions, which are required within 10 days.

City and county attorneys have used this 10-day requirement on decisions to get new constitutional challenges — which are new lawsuits and not appeals of decisions — thrown out of circuit courts. This law would add language that would prevent application of the 10-day requirement to constitutional challenges.

The bill was sponsored by state Rep. Dana Criswell (R-Southaven). It was passed out of the Senate Judiciary A Committee Tuesday.

SB 2901, known as the Landowner Protection Act, would exempt property owners and their employees from civil liability if a third party injures someone else on their property.

The bill is sponsored by state Sen. Josh Harkins (R-Flowood) and the amended bill been sent back to the Senate for concurrence. If the Senate doesn’t concur with the changes by the House, the two sides will have to settle their differences with the bill in a conference committee.

HB 702 would allow cottage food operators to increase their maximum sales to $35,000 and advertise their products on the web. The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Casey Eure (R-Saucier), passed the House by a 117-0 margin. It’s been passed out of the Public Health and Welfare Committee in the Senate.

SB 2603 would reauthorize motion picture and television production incentives for out-of-state firms that expired in 2017. Unlike the previous incentives, both bills would cap them at $10 million.

The bill sponsored by state Sen. Joey Fillingane (R-Sumrall) and been passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee. It’s already on the House calendar and will likely get a floor vote this week.

HB 1612 would authorize municipalities to create special improvement assessment districts that would be authorized to levy up to 6 mills of property tax (the amount per $1,000 of assessed value of the property) to fund parks, sidewalks, streets, planting, lighting, fountains, security enhancements and even private security services. The tax would require the approval of 60 percent of property owners in the district.

The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Mark Baker (R-Brandon) and passed the House 93-22 Thursday after failing to get a two-thirds majority on its first pass on the floor. It’s been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

The deadline for floor action on appropriations and revenue bills from the other chamber is March 19.

HB 1204 would allow a municipality or county to execute the winning bid in a sealed bidding process if a judge hasn’t ruled on a protection request for bids within 90 days. The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Jerry Turner (R-Baldwyn) and was passed out of the Senate Accountability, Efficiency, Transparency Committee.

More dead than the Macarena

SB 2675 would’ve reauthorized the Education Scholarship Account program until 2024 and was sponsored by state Sen. Gray Tollison (R-Oxford). The original bill that authorized the ESA program has a repealer that will end the program if not reauthorized on July 1, 2020.

The bill was allowed to die on the calendar by the House Education Committee.

HB 623 would’ve exempted school districts with A and B accountability ratings from the Mississippi Department of Education from certain mandates, including grade reporting and annual auditing of the district’s official discipline plan and code of student conduct.

The bill was killed by the Senate Education Committee before making it to the floor for a vote.

HB 98 would prohibit the use of fishing nets for the taking of finfish or speckled trout within a half mile of the shoreline of Cat Island in the Mississippi Sound. It was allowed to die by the Senate Ports and Marine Resources Committee.

HB 1499 would’ve increased the excise tax on non-cigarette tobacco products such as cigars and chewing tobacco from 15 percent to 22.5 percent, while HB 1500 would’ve raised the per-pack cigarette tax rate from 68 cents to $1.18. Both were sponsored by state Rep. Bob Evans (D-Monticello).  It died in committee.

SB 2665 would’ve increased the per-pack tax on cigarettes to $2.18 and was sponsored by state Sen. Willie Simmons (D-Cleveland). It died in committee.

HB 1573 was sponsored by state Rep. Jeff Smith (R-Columbus) and would’ve increased the tax on a pack of cigarettes to $1.68. It also didn’t make it out of committee.

SB 2563 was authored by state Sen. Brice Wiggins (R-Pascagoula) and would’ve hiked the per-pack levy to $2.18. It died in committee.

HB 60 was sponsored by state Rep. Earl Banks (D-Jackson) and would’ve authorized $2 million in bond funds for the Jackson Zoo for capital improvements.

HB 67 was sponsored by state Rep. Ashley Henley (R-Southaven) and would’ve eliminated the state sales tax on food and increased the diversion of sales tax revenue to municipalities from 18.5 to 20 percent.


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