Rep. Dana Criswell - At Your Capitol, Week of April 4
As the 2016 legislative sessions begins to wind down the House has sent several bills to Governor Bryant for his consideration and invited the Senate to participate in conferences about many others. When we return on Monday members have been told to expect to work through next weekend, known around the capitol as "conference weekend", to ensure we complete all the work required before the deadline.
I have been assigned to participate in at least one conference committee on education issues but the real work is with appropriations. Over the last couple of weeks both the House and the Senate have voted on many appropriation bills, but these bills do not contain the final amount of money for each department or entity. The appropriation conference committee, which is comprised of three House members and three Senate members will determine how much the state should appropriate.
Once the committee completes its work the House and Senate must vote on their plan. The deadline to file conference reports on Appropriations and Revenue bills falls on Saturday April 16. Conferees must file reports, or final versions, before 8 p.m. Saturday. Monday, April 18, is the deadline for adoption of those conference reports filed.
This week, the Local and Private Committee was very active. The Local and Private committee addresses issues that counties or cities need that are not allowed by general law. Every community’s needs are different, so the committee looks at each request and works with the representatives from that community to aid where possible. Issues from county jail locations to taxes on hotels and restaurants to contributions to local charities are covered in this committee.
HB 1592: authorizes a municipality to transfer taxpayer money directly to a private scholarship fund. I voted No, the bill passed 105-11.
HB 1605: This bill authorizes Adams County to borrow money at taxpayers’ expense to bail out obligations incurred by a public hospital. I voted Yes, the bill passed 114-5.
HB 1690: This bill authorizes a municipality to transfer $25,000 annually of taxpayer money directly to a private foundation. I voted No, the bill passed 104-13.
HB 1608: This bill authorizes Harrison County to institute a civil service commission for their Sheriff’s office. This is a function of the local government. I voted Yes, the bill passed 120-0.
HB 1507: This bill authorizes the City of Brandon the to increase taxes on citizens within the municipality. The Legislature’s role is to protect the citizens of this state and their property. I voted No, the bill passed 94-18.
HB 1591: This bill authorizes a municipality to clean up a cemetery that is currently unowned. I voted Yes, the measure passed 118-0.
HB 1703: This bill allows a county more flexibility in where they can locate their jail within the county. I voted Yes, the bill passed 117-0.
HB 1704: This bill allows a county to compensate a contractor for services performed during storm cleanup. I voted Yes, the bill passed 114-1.
HB 1723: This bill allows the city of Carthage to impose a new tax on citizens. The Legislature’s role is to protect the citizens of this state and their property. I voted No, the bill passed 98-14.
HB 1726: This bill allows the city of Brandon to extend a restaurant and bar tax on its citizens. This tax was originally voted on years ago by the citizens of Brandon but they have not voted on the extension of this tax. I voted No, the bill passed 92-13.
HB 1734: This bill allows a county to transfer taxpayer funds directly to a private entity. I voted No, the bill passed 108-6.
HB 1735: This bill allows a county to contribute taxpayer funds directly to a private entity. I voted No, the bill passed 102-11.
HB 1750: This bill allows the City of West Point to extend a tax on its citizens. The Legislature’s role is to protect the citizens of this state and their property. I voted No, the bill passed 99-14.
HB 1580: This bill allows the City of Florence to extend a tax on its citizens. The Legislature’s role is to protect the citizens of this state and their property. I voted No, the bill passed 96-13.
HB 1581: This bill allows the City of Fulton to extend a hotel tax on its citizens. I voted No, the bill passed 98-16.
HB 1587: This bill allows the City of Batesville to extend a tax on its citizens. I voted No, the bill passed 102-11.
Many of the taxes that I voted against are hotel and restaurant taxes that local municipalities impose on their citizens. Usually these taxes are sold to the general public to pay for a specific project and the tax has a repealer. The repealer is designed to protect the local community by repealing the tax once the project is complete, generally in three for four years. The problem is, the legislature simply extends the repealer without the citizens knowledge and the tax never goes away as originally promised. I will continue to vote against these taxes and the extension of taxes until they are handled more openly.
Visiting Your Capitol
A delegation from DeSoto County attended the Keep Mississippi Beautiful Legislative Day at the Capitol. Desoto County continues to be a leader in our state and Ray Laughter, Manager of Environmental Services, and his staff do a great job keeping Desoto County clean and safe. Thank You, Ray for your dedication to our county.