2017 Mississippi Legislative Update
By Jeff Wagner; Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, P.C.

By the time you read this, the Mississippi Legislature will have concluded its 2017 Regular Session.  It has been a relatively quiet session.  With the exception of one bill that would have removed the tax exemption for leases of airport authority owned- or controlled-property that died in committee, there have been few bills that would directly affect airports in the state.

The following summarizes bills of interest to airports that (i) the Mississippi Legislature has passed and sent to the Governor for signature or have already been signed by the Governor, and (ii) bills that are still alive as of March 8, 2017, and appear likely to be passed into law:

HB 865.  This bill would extend the automatic repealer under Miss. Code Ann. §61-19-1 which requires painting of anemometer towers greater than 50 feet in height in aviation orange and white until July 1, 2020. The Senate has passed an amended version of the bill that would permanently remove the automatic repealer. The House must concur in the Senate amendment.

HB 1106.  This bill would amend Miss. Code Ann. §31-7-13 to require governing authorities to allow bidders to submit bids electronically. Each governing authority would be required to develop a secure means for bidders to submit bids electronically. This bill has passed the House and Senate in different forms. The principal differences between the two being (i) that the Senate version provides for the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) to develop regulations for the receipt of bids electronically to be followed by governing authorities, and (ii) exceptions for counties with a population of less than 20,000 (House version sets the limit at 50,000) and cities with a population of less than 10,000 (House version sets the limit at 25,000).  Both versions provide an exemption for governing authorities located in areas without high-speed Internet access.

HB 1119.  This bill would eliminate certain of the requirements in Miss. Code Ann. §25-41-5 for conducting a public meeting through teleconference or videoconference, including deleting the requirement of five days prior notice of the meeting.  The revised provision specifically states that a governing authority may establish a quorum with individuals in different locations, but requires the teleconference/videoconference to be available for hearing/viewing at the usual meeting place of the governing authority or at another public location specified in the meeting notice. This bill has passed both houses and been sent to the Governor for signature.

HB 1333.  This bill would amend Miss. Code Ann. §57-1-471 to allow seasonal air service to qualify under the Mississippi Air Service Development Grant Program the same as other air service. Seasonal air service is defined as service lasting more than two months but less than twelve months.  Grant funds for seasonal service are only released by the Mississippi Development Authority at the conclusion of the seasonal service. This bill has passed both houses and been sent to the Governor for signature.

SB 2354.  This bill reinserts certain definitions inadvertently deleted from Miss. Code Ann. §31-7-1 during the 2016 Legislative Session. The definitions inadvertently deleted in 2016 include, among others, “construction,” “emergency” and “public funds.”  This bill has passed both houses and been sent to the Governor for signature.

SB 2384.  This bill would amend Miss. Code Ann. §31-7-13 to require that all advertisements for bids be published through DFA’s procurement portal. Different versions of the bill have passed both houses with the principal difference being that the House version would also require advertisement in the local newspaper while the Senate version would make local advertisement optional. If the Senate does not concur with the House’s amendment, it will be referred to conference. I would expect the Senate to concur in the House’s amendment.

SB 2448.  This bill amends the definition of “local government units” that are authorized to participate in Regional Economic Development Alliances under Miss. Code Ann. §57-64-1 et seq., to include, among others, airport authorities. This will provide local governments with significant additional economic development tools by allowing formal cooperation in ways that have been impossible previously. This bill has passed both houses and been sent to the Governor for execution.

The Mississippi Legislature maintains a website that is updated daily to show legislative actions. Copies of all bills, including all amendments and substitutes, are available on the website going back to the 1997 Regular Session of the Legislature. The website and all bills are fully text searchable. The web address is http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/sessions.htm.

Jeff Wagner is a shareholder in the State Public Policy Group at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, P.C. in Jackson, Mississippi, and may be contacted at (601) 973-3610 or by email at jwagner@bakerdonelson.com with any questions.