By Jodi Marze, Lifestyles Editor
The Picayune Item
PICAYUNE — The Greater Area Picayune Chamber of Commerce held a Legislative Review for the business community, at Char Southern Steakhouse, Monday at 5:30 p.m. Panelists included State Senator District 40 Angela Burks Hill, State Senator District 47 Tony Smith, and State Rep. Herb Frierson of Poplarville. All are Republican. They spoke on the past session and bills they either authored or helped pass which impact local and state businesses. Burks Hill signed off on HB 892 -- “An act to amend Sections 27-7-49 AND 27-65-42, Mississippi Code of 1972, to require that examinations of a taxpayer’s income and sales tax returns must be completed by the Department of Revenue within three years of the due date or date the return was filed unless the Commissioner of Revenue and the taxpayer agree to further extensions of time by subsequent written agreements if the extensions are entered into before the expiration of the immediately preceding extension agreement; to amend Section 27-73-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, in conformity thereto; and for related purposes.” — http://openstates.org/ms/bills/2013/HB892/documents/MSD00051229/ Burks Hill said, “As I have been out speaking to local business owners I understood that businesses fear the Department of Revenue more than the IRS. I signed off on the bill because I thought it was fair.” While acknowledging the importance of other bills she had helped support, Senate Education Committee member Burks Hill felt the most important one was SB 2347 Mississippi Senate Bill which is a “Literacy-Based Promotion Act; establish in public schools to achieve grade-level reading by end of 3rd Grade.” The bill is due back from the governor by April 25. Burks Hill acknowledged the Jeb Bush Foundation with whom she worked closely and applauded the scholastic success they had in Florida when similar legislation was passed. Smith was the bill’s co-sponsor. Senator Smith, also a Senate Education Committee member, sponsored Senate Bill 2141, a bill which would have all school board members elected and serve four year cycles. An amendment which would have created a study group for the selection and governance structure of state school boards. The group would report to the 2014 regular session of the legislature and for other related purposes. The bill was ultimately vetoed; but Smith intends to bring it back in the upcoming session. We will come back with something that will be more acceptable to the governing body. Smith gained national attention for his preemptive bill on behalf of state restaurants and hospitality industry that prohibited law makers from regulating portion size on drinks and food as well as killing incentives for children’s meals. The bill Smith authored kept regulation in state legislation and would apply statewide. Another preemptive bill was a minimum wage bill. It allows negotiation but denies across the board regulation in industry. Frierson stated that the general funds grew by 50 or 60 million, but we are down in total state support funds by 100 million. “The biggest thing that we did was focus on funding research through Universities. We also increased funding for the Third Grade Reading bill. There will be approximately nine million in the first year allocated to that and a little less in the second year. My biggest dissappointment is the public safety deficit,” said Frierson.