House Bill Promotes Green Energy Production
By Tommy Reynolds
Last week the House of Representatives passed SB 3278 to encourage the generation of electricity through biomass or cogeneration.
Under the Bill, facilities that produce energy from biomass, and hire at least 20 full-time employees, and which have large capital investment will be eligible for tax incentives for the location of these plants in our State. The purpose of the Bill is to encourage “green” energy production and job creation in Mississippi. There is a significant plus side to our state economy if we can generate electricity from waste wood or waste products, and, generate additional jobs at the same time. We are blessed in our state with a significant timber production capacity, as well as a critically important crop production for biomass use as well.
Under legislative rules, all appropriations and revenue bills must be agreed to in final form, and conference reports filed, on or before 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 25th. On Friday, however, the Legislative Budget Commission voted to reduce anticipated revenue for the next Fiscal Year, by several hundred million dollars.
This means that budgets of state agencies will have to be essentially redone in a very short period of time to reflect the drastically reduced revenues. There is a significant possibility that a portion of the budget, such as health care and education, may be able to be spared some of the most drastic effects of budget cutting, due to “stimulus” money, which is being received from the Federal Government. Some legislative leaders and the Governor’s Office are requesting that the Legislature take a break and either recess or adjourn until it has been determined the amount of stimulus money that will be plugged into the holes in the State General Fund.
With the looming deadline of Wednesday, the Legislature will, in the first few days of the upcoming week, have to decide whether to recess or adjourn to a later date so that the budgets for state agencies will be finalized. It is extremely important also, that the amount of the proposed cigarette tax increase be agreed to between the House and Senate.
Currently, the House and Senate negotiators are far apart on agreeing to a proposed cigarette tax increase to help supplement the State General Fund. Our tax of $0.18 per pack is less than the average of the surrounding states. Arkansas has recently increased its per pack tax to $1.l5, and other states are considering similar action. I believe it is critical that we provide adequate funding for transportation, public safety, education, mental health, and other critical needs of our state and its citizens.
If I can be of any assistance please call on me. My phone number in Jackson during the session is (601) 359-3365, my Charleston office is (662) 647-3203, and my residence phone number is (662) 473-2571.
I can also be contacted by writing me at my home address of 15 CR 429, Water Valley, MS 38965, or at my office address of P.O. Box 220, Charleston, MS 38921.