2021 Legislator “Business & Jobs” Report Card Bills

HB 1
This cemented the voter-approved flag into state law. BIPEC’s mission statement emphasizes that Mississippi businesses should ‘unite, protect, and advance free enterprise.’ Mississippi is always competing for economic development opportunities. The old flag put us at a disadvantage. The business vote was for the legislation.

HB 1197
This would have done away with the mandated reverse auction bidding system. This process is not suited for all purchases since it focuses so intently on initial pricing, and buyers may get subpar quality and much higher life-cycle costs. HB 1197 included language that would allow for a transparent way for local governing authorities to provide situation-specific exemptions when reverse auctions do not make the most sense. Unfortunately, the Senate removed the language. The business vote was for the legislation in the House.

HB 632
The “All Fuels Act” prohibits local governments from barring the use of natural gas in homes and businesses. This legislation provides business owners consistent and transparent rules for the future use of much-needed, lower-cost, and reliable natural gas. The business vote was for the legislation.

HB 633
This will require the state’s K-12 public schools to offer computer science to all elementary and high school students. Under the legislation, the state will take a phased approach to introduce computer science starting in the 2022 school year. The goal of this legislation is to inspire and educate more students on academic and career opportunities associated with science, technology, engineering, and math-related studies. The business vote was for the legislation.

HB 1439
This would have imposed a sales tax increase on businesses. While the legislation would have phased out the individual income tax, it would have imposed significant increases in sales taxes on certain business inputs. Those affected include the following industries: manufacturing, farming, timber, dairy, and automobile dealers. Electric power associations would have also faced increased costs that would likely be passed on to consumers, including business customers, in the form of higher rates. All businesses and industries would have paid 2.5 percent more in sales tax on purchases of business-related goods, services, telecommunications services, and utilities currently subject to the 7 percent rate. The business vote was against the legislation.

SB 2373
SB 2373 protects businesses from frivolous lawsuits if a consumer miss fuels their vehicle with incompatible motor fuel. In some cases, consumers miss fuel their diesel vehicles with gasoline even though the product is clearly labeled as gasoline. In other instances, a consumer may miss fuel their older gasoline vehicle with ethanol-blended gasoline despite the fact the product is clearly labeled as ethanol-blended fuel. The business vote was for the legislation.

SB 2603
SB 2603 streamlines the process for obtaining a salvage title so that an insurance company can more easily dispose of a vehicle after a total loss once the claim has been paid. The bill creates significant opportunities for increased efficiencies for companies involved in this process by modernizing acceptable notification delivery methods, reducing wait times, and allowing a contracted agent to act on behalf of insurance companies. The business vote was for the legislation.

SB 2626
Senate Bill 2626 allows corporations to continue the cost-reduction practices of virtual shareholder meetings permanently, temporarily allowed during the COVID-19 pandemic, after the state of emergency ends. The business vote was for the legislation.

SB 2822
The mFLEX proposal would have combined some of the most commonly used tax credits into one easy-to-use incentive. Streamlining incentives in this way would maximize the value of potential credits while giving Mississippi a unique competitive advantage. Offering a more flexible incentive structure would provide real value to current Mississippi companies and help attract new industries. While the legislation passed both chambers, it ultimately died in conference. The business vote was for the legislation.

SB 2971
Senate Bill 2971 was amended in the House to include a version of the tax bill (HB 1439). While the amendment removed tax increases on some industries, many still faced significant tax increases on business inputs. However, all businesses and industries would still have paid more in sales tax. The regular retail sales tax rate applicable to ordinary purchases of business-related goods, services, telecommunications services, and utilities would have increased from 7% to 9.5%. The business vote was against the legislation.

SB 2024
SB 2024 exempts term bids from reverse auctions providing procurement relief for many entities. It also amends bidding requirements for agencies and governing authorities by prohibiting the use of reverse auctions for term contracts which is a positive step forward in providing procurement relief. The business vote was for the legislation.

HB 1446
HB 1446 amends Section 57-121-7, Mississippi Code of 1972, to provide that eligible expenses for which grant funds were received under the Back to Business Mississippi Grant Program may be itemized as income tax deductions. The business vote was for the legislation.

HB 1135
House Bill 1135 created an alcohol delivery service permit to deliver beer, wine, and spirits within a 30-mile radius. This allows permitted package stores to deliver or use a permitted third-party delivery service within a 30-mile radius. For restaurants, this expands the current wine-to-go legislation to allow for the delivery of beer or one bottle of wine. The business vote was for the legislation.

SB 2624
SB 2624 would have established a three-year pilot program to provide an option for licensees to choose an independent administrative hearing officer in a disciplinary hearing, enhancing due process rights for real estate licensees in Mississippi. The bill would have also afforded real estate licensees the right of supersedeas so that they may continue to earn a living while appeals are working their way through the court system, except in cases where the court finds clear and convincing proof that they pose a threat to the public. The business vote was for the legislation.

HB 1139
This legislation repeals the law requiring businesses to pay estimated sales. Current law requires businesses that collect an average of $50,000 in sales taxes annually to pay sales tax collected in May and pay 75% of their anticipated sales tax collections in advance for June. The law is effective immediately, and therefore, the double payment will not be required beginning June 2021. The business vote was for the legislation.

SB 2825
SB2825 raises weight limits for harvest permits in 2023 to bring them more in line with surrounding states. The bill also increases overweight fines, moves weight enforcement from the Miss. Department of Transportation (MDOT) to the Department of Public Safety, and creates a harvest permit advisory council. The business vote was for the legislation.

SB 2019
This legislation would have prevented public employers from requiring applicants to disclose if they have been convicted of a felony crime on an application. This effort is otherwise known as “ban the box.” The business vote was against the legislation.