Two bills that would possibly change the state’s monopoly on the wholesale distribution of spirits and wine are headed to conference committee for a possible compromise.
Both chambers rewrote the other’s bill, leading to the need for a compromise.
House Bill 997 is authored by state Rep. Trey Lamar, R-Senatobia. The original bill would’ve ended the practice of the state being the wholesale distributor for wine and spirits and govern the issuance of wholesaler permits. It passed the House 104-3 on February 3 and was amended with a strike-all in the Senate Finance Committee that keeps the state as the wholesale distributor of wine and spirits to resemble their bill, Senate Bill 2806.
SB 2806 originally was a placeholder bill that brings forward code sections related to the Alcohol Beverage Control division of the state Department of Revenue. The bill would’ve also allowed the DOR to contract for a vendor to take over management and operation of the state’s alcohol warehouse. Including code sections related to ABC gives lawmakers a vehicle to work on a compromise on the issue.
State Sen. Josh Harkins, R-Flowood authored the bill. The House Ways and Means Committee rewrote the bill with a strike-all to make it identical to HB 997 and the bill passed the House 107-9.
Another alcohol-related bill is HB 1135, the lone remaining bill that would create a delivery service permit for alcoholic beverages for retail delivery of alcoholic beverages from a licensed retailer to a consumer. The bill is sponsored by Lamar and will be headed to conference after the bill amended to resemble the Senate’s version, which died on the calendar in the House.
The deadline is quickly moving to its sine die (adjourn without reconvening) date of April 4. The next deadline on the general bill calendar is March 29, when conference reports must be filed. According to legislative rules, conference reports can’t be amended and if the report isn’t passed by a majority, the bill can be recommitted for further conference.
As for the finance bill calendar, the next deadline is March 27, when conference reports for appropriations and revenue bills are due.
Here are some of the more interesting bills that are still alive:
Signed into law
SB 2788 is sponsored by state Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson and would require municipal law enforcement to inform the state Highway Safety Patrol of any road blockages or emergencies on interstates in city limits. It was signed into law on March 17 by Gov. Tate Reeves.
SB 2149 is sponsored by state Sen. Dennis DeBar, R-Leakesville, and would hold school districts harmless from calculating average daily attendance for the 2020-2021 school year. It was signed into law by the governor on March 18.
HB 72 would provide immunity for dentists providing charitable and emergency services. The bill, authored by state Rep. Sam Mims, R-McComb, was signed into law on March 17.
HB 1302 would allow optometrists to provide care to patients commensurate with their training and experience, including prescribing certain drugs. The legislation was sponsored by state Rep. Jason White, R-West, and Gov. Reeves signed the bill on March 17.
SB 2119 is sponsored by state Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall and would allow the sale of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine without a prescription. The governor put pen to paper with SB 2119 on March 17.
Awaiting governor’s signature
HB 1263 would allow reciprocity for holders of occupational licenses from other states who move to Mississippi if they meet certain requirements and their license is valid and in good standing. It was sponsored by state Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven.
Headed to conference
HB 119 was originally intended to extend the expiration date (repealer) on Harper Grace’s Law which allowed the University of Mississippi Medical Center to continue to research and dispense cannabidiol (CBD) oil for medical purposes and sponsored by state Rep. Jerry Turner, R-Baldwyn. The bill was amended in the Senate to add language similar to a medical marijuana program bill that died in the House earlier this session that would only be triggered if Initiative 65 is overturned by the state Supreme Court.
Dead as a clichéd doornail
HB 1439, the Mississippi Tax Freedom Act, would’ve set new deductions for both individuals ($47,700) and married couples ($95,400). The implementation of these exemptions would’ve been phased in over time and tied to state revenues in the general fund and the rate of inflation. Once fully implemented, all income up to these levels would’ve no longer been subject to the state’s income tax.
The bill was sponsored by House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton and was killed by the Senate Finance Committee.
The concept isn’t completely dead, as the House amended SB 2971, a bond bill for capital improvements at the state’s universities. The Senate will likely insist on the language being removed from the bill at conference.
The Senate has passed a Concurrent Resolution that would create a State Taxation Study Committee that would include the DOR commissioner or their designee, four members apiece of the House and Senate appointed by House Speaker Gunn and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, the chairmen of the Senate Finance, House Ways and Means, Senate Appropriations, House Appropriations committees and the state economist.
SB 2804 would've allowed the retail delivery of alcoholic beverages from a licensed retailer to a consumer. The bill was authored by Harkins and the bill died on the calendar.