Thursday, February 26, 2009

Meal Plan Bill Passes House 119-2

HB 856 passed the House yesterday 119-2. This bill, which I authored, would assist the students at all Mississippi universities and senior colleges with their meal plans. It would make their "flex plans", also known as declining balance accounts, exempt from sales tax.

Prior to October 1, these flex plans were exempt. The Mississippi State Tax Commission issued a ruling last year that universities and colleges would have to start taxing these portions of student meal plans.

When the bill was brought before the Ways & Means Committee, Chairman Percy Watson (D-Hattiesburg) allowed me to present the legislation, even though I was not a member of the committee. The vote was an 8-8 tie; Chairman Watson then broke the tie by voting for it. The bill went to the full House floor yesterday and passed 119-2.

There are several folks students should definitely thank if this bill becomes law. Chairman Watson would be the first; Representative Angela Cockerham (D-Amite County) would be the second- she presented the bill on the House floor yesterday. Representatives Mark Formby (R-Picayune) and John Moore (R-Brandon) were also very pivotal. On the voice in committee yesterday, it appeared the "nays" were in the majority. Both of them called for a roll call vote, which indicated the tie- which then gave Chairman Watson the opportunity to break that tie.

The bill will now head to the Senate Finance Committee.

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