2005 Regular Session
To: Judiciary B
By: Representative Fleming
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 31-3-13, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT THE BOARD OF CONTRACTORS MAY ENLIST THE ASSISTANCE OF THE COURTS TO COLLECT FINES AND ENFORCE ORDERS; TO PROVIDE THAT SHERIFFS SHALL ENFORCE ORDERS OF THE BOARD; TO AMEND SECTION 31-3-21, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO CLARIFY BID REQUIREMENTS FOR CONTRACTORS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. 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 special privilege license tax as provided under 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.
Additional fees may be required as provided in Section 31-3-14.
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) To enlist the assistance of the courts in collecting fines and enforcing orders.
(j) The sheriffs of the state shall enforce any orders of the board when so requested by the board.
SECTION 2. Section 31-3-21, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
31-3-21. (1) It shall be unlawful for any person who does not hold a certificate of responsibility issued under this chapter, or a similar certificate issued by another state recognizing such certificate issued by the State of Mississippi, to submit a bid, enter into a contract for any public, residential or any other job, or otherwise engage in or continue in this state in the business of a contractor, as defined in this chapter. Any bid which is submitted without a certificate of responsibility number issued under this chapter and without that number appearing on the exterior of the bid envelope, as and if herein required, at the time designated for the opening of such bid, shall not be considered further, and the person or public agency soliciting bids shall not enter into a contract with a contractor submitting a bid in violation of this section. In addition, any person violating this section by knowingly and willfully submitting a bid for projects without holding a certificate of responsibility number issued under this chapter, as and if herein required, at the time of the submission or opening of such bid shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine of not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or by imprisonment for not more than six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
(2) All bids submitted for public or private projects where said bid is in excess of Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00) with respect to public projects and in excess of One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00) with respect to private projects shall contain on the outside or exterior of the envelope or container of such bid the contractor's current certificate number, and no bid shall be opened or considered unless such contractor's current certificate number appears on the outside or exterior of said envelope or container, or unless there appears a statement on the outside or exterior of such envelope or container to the effect that the bid enclosed therewith did not exceed Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00) with respect to public projects or One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00) with respect to private projects. Any person violating the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine of not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or by imprisonment for not more than six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
(3) In the letting of public contracts preference shall be given to resident contractors, and a nonresident bidder domiciled in a state having laws granting preference to local contractors shall be awarded Mississippi public contracts only on the same basis as the nonresident bidder's state awards contracts to Mississippi contractors bidding under similar circumstances; and resident contractors actually domiciled in Mississippi, be they corporate, individuals, or partnerships, are to be granted preference over nonresidents in awarding of contracts in the same manner and to the same extent as provided by the laws of the state of domicile of the nonresident. When a nonresident contractor submits a bid for a public project, he shall attach thereto a copy of his resident state's current law pertaining to such state's treatment of nonresident contractors. As used in this section, the term "resident contractors" includes a nonresident person, firm or corporation that has been qualified to do business in this state and has maintained a permanent full-time office in the State of Mississippi for two (2) years prior to January 1, 1986, and the subsidiaries and affiliates of such a person, firm or corporation. Any public agency awarding a contract shall promptly report to the State Tax Commission the following information:
(a) The amount of the contract.
(b) The name and address of the contractor reviewing the contract.
(c) The name and location of the project.
(4) In addition to any other penalties provided in this chapter, and upon a finding of a violation of this chapter, the State Board of Contractors may, after notice and hearing, issue an order of abatement directing the contractor to cease all actions constituting violations of this chapter until such time as the contractor complies with Mississippi state law, and to pay to the board a civil penalty to be deposited into the State Board of Contractors' Fund, created in Section 31-3-17, of not more than three percent (3%) of the total contract being performed by the contractor. The funds collected from civil penalty payments shall be used by the State Board of Contractors for enforcement and education.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2005.