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Barbour signs insurance tax credit, trauma care and other bills

Mississippians will be eligible for income tax credits on some long-term health insurance premiums, under a bill signed into law by Gov. Haley Barbour.

The law says taxpayers can get credit for up to $500, or 25 percent, of “the premium costs paid during the taxable year for a qualified long-term care insurance policy.”

“Paying for long-term care for our loved ones can be an enormous financial burden on our families,” Barbour said in a statement. “This is one way we can help curb the costs of care, especially when the length of stay is unknown and options are limited.”

The credit can not exceed the taxpayer’s tax liability and can’t be forward to the next year, said Kathy Waterbury, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi State Tax Commission.

The bill, which Barbour signed Thursday, would cover costs for the full calendar year of 2007, but can’t be used for 2006 taxes.

“The bill specifies that it’s not just for their own long-term care, it could be for their child, a spouse, parent or the individual’s independents,” Waterbury said.

“They cannot take a premium paid by someone else,” she said.

Waterbury said there are so many variables in tax filings that it’s difficult to say exactly how much money the tax credit will save an average Mississippi family, but it will help their bottom line.

Barbour also signed a bill to create a 13-member task force to study trauma and burn care in Mississippi. The group will be made up of physicians, hospital administrators, members of the state House and Senate, a recipient of trauma care and others.

The group would determine the efficiency and funding requirements needed for better trauma care in the state and report back to the Legislature with its findings.

Other bills the governor signed would:

— Increase penalties for negligent preparations of tax returns by a preparer.

— Designate Noxubee River as eligible for nomination to the scenic streams program.

— Allow Department of Archives and History to swap for land to be used for Eudora Welty Museum.

— Authorize electronic notice of release of inmates.

— Allow workers compensation benefits to be paid using new actuarial tables.

Barbour vetoed a bill that would have allowed public agencies to make changes in their energy contracts without requesting bids.

Barbour said the bill “would allow a state agency to enter into a contract for a single type of energy service at one location through a competitive process and amend the contract to provide for a large number of energy services at multiple locations — all without determining whether another company would provide these services more effectively and at a lower cost to the taxpayers.”

The bills are Senate Bills 2337, 2863, 2583, 2621 and House Bills 1104, 1378, 1397.