Last week most of our time was spent on House Appropriation and Revenue bills. We were quickly faced with a big deadline this week: the March 3 requirement that our committees consider and pass those Senate measures they sent our way.
A Senate proposal that passed out of committee last week is a measure to allow drivers to show proof of insurance on their cell phones or other electronic devices, rather than having to fumble around in a glove box, wallet or purse during a regular traffic stop. This is one way we can move Mississippi into the modern era with little trouble, and I’ll be supporting it when it comes to a floor vote.
We voted to pass a number of revenue bonds last week.
I was proud to vote to support the Main Street Investment Act (House Bill 1618), providing $5 million in bonds for municipalities with fewer than 15,000 residents. This measure will enable our small, rural towns and cities to revitalize their downtown areas in hopes of attracting more retail, dining and cultural establishments. Here in Corinth, we are blessed to have one of the most vibrant and busy downtown areas in the state. I hope we can help others enjoy the same activity.
Close to home, I also voted to support House Bill 1568, which gives the Elvis Presley Birthplace, Museum and Chapel $1 million in bonds to complete this project that began in 1994. A portion of the money will be used toward the Vietnam Memorial that is adjacent to the Elvis Presley birthplace. We are all very proud of our native son, and we should be putting our best face on this international tourist draw in his honor.
In 2012, I voted to support the “Mississippi Health Care Industry Zone Act,” which provides certain tax incentives for qualified health care industry related businesses located within five miles of hospitals within health care zones. The law gives the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) permission to designate areas in counties as Health Care Industry Zones if they meet certain criteria. Special incentives encourage health-related businesses to locate in or relocate to these areas.
Last week, we passed House Bill 1634 complimenting the 2012 Act. HB1634, or the “Mississippi Healthcare Industry Zone Master Plan,” will provide incentives for certain healthcare facilities within healthcare zone master plan communities. A special diversion of $50,000 a month would be set aside for a healthcare job training fund to be administered by MDA, with training provided by universities and community colleges.
Our healthcare providers here in Alcorn County are excellent. In the House, we are all very enthusiastic about creating solid access to excellent healthcare throughout Mississippi. While sometimes we differ on approaches toward that goal, I am pleased to say that the House voted to approve this measure by a vote of 120-0.
On Wednesday, February 25, the House passed a $1.5 billion individual income tax cut proposal by a bipartisan vote of 83-32. I voted for this measure. House Bill 1629 provides for a state personal income tax elimination that will occur over a 15-year period beginning in Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) and will take place only if there is three percent revenue growth in each fiscal year.
My colleagues and I who voted for this measure are well aware that tax monies fuel the necessary services of government: education, public safety, healthcare, roads and bridges, and caring for the vulnerable among us. We also know that there a many inessential government programs that can stand some cutting back. I hope that this vote has opened the door for a close, hard look at just how our taxes are being spent on essential services and where we can do away with the excess. I look forward to those discussions.
I join with my colleagues in offering condolences and sympathy to the family of former House Speaker Tim Ford. Speaker Ford worked hard to make sure that the voices of all Mississippians were heard at the State Capitol. Today, we are still enjoying the results of his work. May he rest in peace.
Please feel free to contact me on these or any other measures before the Legislature. Please call me at (662) 287-1620, email email@example.com, message me on FaceBook at Nicholas Ryan Bain or follow me on Twitter @StateRepBain.