Opinion – 3/20/2007

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Panolian: OPINIONS – Senator Nolan Mettetal

 From the 03/20/07 issue of The Panolian        

Senate and House seeking amendment compromise in committee

With only two weeks remaining in the 2007 Legislative Session, the Mississippi Senate continues consideration of Senate bills that were amended by the Mississippi House of Representatives. If the Senate agrees with the House amendment to such a proposal, we will simply concur and the amended bill goes to the Governor.

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However, the Senate may disagree with the amendment, therefore we do not concur and invite conference. Conferees (three from the Senate and three from the House) then attempt to reach a compromise which is reported as a conference report. Of course the House is considering in the same manner their bills that the Senate amended.

One Senate proposal that passed the Senate and went to the Governor for his consideration exempted the three percent sales tax on admission to certain boxing and wrestling events sponsored by the Mississippi Athletic Commission. These events are held in publicly owned coliseums and arenas. The intent is to promote the success of these facilities while being more competitive in landing more such events. Adjoining states normally compete for such events.

The House amended the proposal to include County Agriculture Centers that charge admission. Events at these facilities are held outside and are subject to a seven percent sales tax and the amendment decreased the tax from seven percent to three percent. This entire tax bill has very little impact on local governments because it amounts to such an insignificant amount of revenue. In fact, the intent is to generate additional events which will actually increase local revenue.

A tax proposal that went to conference provides for a state income tax credit on the purchase of a hybrid electric vehicle. The tax credit is based on the same sliding scale for a federal exemption and is established under federal statute. You cannot exceed your state income tax liability in any year, but you have up to five years to use the tax credit.

The key to this tax exemption is to promote energy conservation and a cleaner environment. The amendment to this bill was an exemption from ad valorem taxation for 10 years on government mandated new industrial pollution control equipment. This would not cost local governments any current revenue and would only impact such mandated pollution control equipment purchased after July 1, 2007.

We are also beginning to see Senate proposals become law that survived the legislative process and received favorable consideration from Governor Haley Barbour. One such proposal protects Mississippi Guardsmen and U. S. Armed Forces Reserves from loosing their professional licenses while serving on active duty. This license cannot expire while these military personnel are serving on active duty and the license shall be extended up to 90 days after the return of these personnel. The license can be renewed during the 90 day period after his return for only the normal renewal fee with no additional charges or fees. We believe that these military personnel have enough to be concerned about while on active duty without being worried about their professional license.

We always value your input and thank you for your advice. Your correspondences this week have been very heart warming and humbling for Kay and me. Thank you all for the many acts of kindness that you extended to us during the past couple of weeks. It has not only been the communication in Jackson, but everywhere we have traveled. Thank you for helping us get the job done!

We thank this paper for their support and their informing you. You can reach me at 601-359-2220 during the session or at home 662-487-1512.

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