1997 Regular Session
To: Judiciary B
By: Representative Dedeaux
House Bill 961
AN ACT TO CREATE A NEW CODE SECTION TO BE CODIFIED IN CHAPTER 7 OF TITLE 85, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE A LIEN ON HEATING, COOLING AND REFRIGERATION UNITS; TO PROVIDE THAT THE STATE BOARD OF CONTRACTORS SHALL CREATE A TAG TO EXECUTE SUCH LIEN; TO PROVIDE A PENALTY FOR REMOVAL OF A TAG OR VIOLATION OF A LIEN; TO AMEND SECTION 31-3-13, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, IN CONFORMITY TO THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ACT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. The following shall be codified in Chapter 7 of Title 85, Mississippi Code of 1972:
Any person who sells or repairs any heating, cooling or refrigeration unit which provides more than 18,000 BTU of heating or cooling power shall have a lien on such unit until the purchase price or repair costs shall be paid. Any unit which can be removed from a dwelling or other structure without causing damage to the unit or structure is subject to repossession as provided by law.
Any unit which may not be removed and is not repossessable without causing damage may be disconnected or rendered unuseable until all costs are paid if such disconnection can be achieved without causing harm to the unit. Such unit shall be tagged by a tag created by the State Board of Contractors which shall state that removal of such tag or reconnection without payment of all costs owing on such unit shall be punishable by a fine of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00).
SECTION 2. Section 31-3-13, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
31-3-13. The board shall have the following powers and responsibilities:
(a) To receive applications for certificates of responsibility, to investigate and examine applicants for same by holding hearings and securing information, to conduct examinations, and to issue certificates of responsibility to such contractors as the board finds to be responsible. One-fourth (1/4) of the certificates scheduled for renewal on the last day of December, 1980, shall be reviewed by the board on the first Tuesday in January, 1981. The remaining certificates shall be subject to renewal in the following manner: One-fourth (1/4) on the first Tuesday in April, 1981; one-fourth (1/4) on the first Tuesday in July, 1981; and one-fourth (1/4) on the first Tuesday in October, 1981. The board is authorized to extend the dates of expiration of certificates to coincide with the scheduled date of review of individual contractors. Except for the certificates extended from December 31, 1980, to the first Tuesday in January, 1981, the board shall charge fees for the extension of certificates as follows:
(i) Twenty-five Dollars ($25.00) if the date of renewal of the extended certificate is the first Tuesday in April, 1981;
(ii) Fifty Dollars ($50.00) if the date of renewal of the extended certificate is the first Tuesday in July, 1981; and
(iii) Seventy-five Dollars ($75.00) if the date of renewal of the extended certificate is the first Tuesday in October, 1981.
The extended certificates renewed in compliance with this paragraph (a) and all original certificates and renewals thereof issued on or after July 1, 1980, shall expire one (1) year from the date of issuance. No certificate or any renewal thereof shall be issued until the application has been on file with the board for at least thirty (30) days. Application for renewal of certificates of responsibility, together with the payment of a fee of One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) under the terms of this chapter, shall serve to extend the current certificate until the board either renews the certificate or denies the application.
No certificate of responsibility or any renewal thereof shall be issued until the applicant furnishes to the board his Mississippi state sales tax number or Mississippi state use tax number and his state income tax identification numbers.
The board shall conduct an objective, standardized examination of an applicant for a certificate to ascertain the ability of the applicant to make practical application of his knowledge of the profession or business of construction in the category or categories for which he has applied for a certificate of responsibility. The cost of the test and the cost of administering the test shall be paid for by applicants for certificates of responsibility at the time applications are filed. The board shall investigate thoroughly the past record of all applicants, which will include an effort toward ascertaining the qualifications of applicants in reading plans and specifications, estimating costs, construction ethics, and other similar matters. The board shall take all applicants under consideration after having examined him or them and go thoroughly into the records and examinations, prior to granting any certificate of responsibility. If the applicant is an individual, examination may be taken by his personal appearance for examination or by the appearance for examination of one or more of his responsible managing employees; and if a copartnership or corporation or any other combination or organization, by the examination of one or more of the responsible managing officers or members of the executive staff of the applicant's firm, according to its own designation.
(b) To conduct thorough investigations of all applicants seeking renewal of their licenses and of all complaints filed with the board concerning the performance of a contractor on a public or private project.
(c) To obtain information concerning the responsibility of any applicant for a certificate of responsibility or a holder of a certificate of responsibility under this chapter. Such information may be obtained by investigation, by hearings, or by any other reasonable and lawful means. The board shall keep such information appropriately filed and shall disseminate same to any interested person. The board shall have the power of subpoena.
(d) To maintain a list of contractors to whom certificates of responsibility are issued, refused, revoked or suspended, which list shall be available to any interested person. Such list shall indicate the kind or kinds of works or projects for which a certificate of responsibility was issued, refused, revoked or suspended.
(e) To revoke by order entered on its minutes a certificate of responsibility upon a finding by the board that a particular contractor is not responsible, and to suspend such certificate of responsibility in particular cases pending investigation, upon cause to be stated in the board's order of suspension. No such revocation or suspension shall be ordered without a hearing conducted upon not less than ten (10) days' notice to such certificate holder by certified or registered mail, wherein the holder of the certificate of responsibility shall be given an opportunity to present all lawful evidence which he may offer.
(f) To adopt rules and regulations setting forth the requirements for certificates of responsibility, the revocation or suspension thereof, and all other matters concerning same; rules and regulations governing the conduct of the business of the board and its employees; and such other rules and regulations as the board finds necessary for the proper administration of this chapter, including those for the conduct of its hearings on the revocation or suspension of certificates of responsibility. Such rules and regulations shall not conflict with the provisions of this chapter.
(g) The board shall have the power and responsibility to classify the kind or kinds of works or projects that a contractor is qualified and entitled to perform under the certificate of responsibility issued to him. Such classification shall be specified in the certificate of responsibility.
The powers of the State Board of Contractors shall not extend to fixing a maximum limit in the bid amount of any contractor, or the bonding capacity, or a maximum amount of work which a contractor may have under contract at any time, except as stated in paragraph (a) of this section; and the Board of Contractors shall not have jurisdiction or the power or authority to determine the maximum bond a contractor may be capable of obtaining. The board, in determining the qualifications of any applicant for an original certificate of responsibility or any renewal thereof, shall, among other things, take into consideration the following: (1) experience and ability, (2) character, (3) the manner of performance of previous contracts, (4) financial condition, (5) equipment, (6) personnel, (7) work completed, (8) work on hand, (9) ability to perform satisfactorily work under contract at the time of an application for a certificate of responsibility or a renewal thereof, (10) default in complying with provisions of this law, or any other law of the state, and (11) the results of objective, standardized examinations. A record shall be made and preserved by the board of each examination of an applicant and the findings of the board thereon, and a certified copy of the record and findings shall be furnished to any applicant desiring to appeal from any order or decision of the board.
(h) The board shall enter upon its minutes an order or decision upon each application filed with it, and it may state in such order or decision the reason or reasons for its order or decision.
Upon failure of the board to enter an order or decision upon its minutes as to any application within one hundred eighty (180) days from the date of filing such application, the applicant shall have the right of appeal as otherwise provided by this chapter.
The holder of any valid certificate of responsibility issued by the Board of Public Contractors prior to January 1, 1986, shall be automatically issued a certificate of responsibility by the State Board of Contractors for the same classification or classifications of work which the holder was entitled to perform under the State Board of Public Contractors Act.
(i) The board shall develop the lien tag as provided in Section 1 of this act.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.