2007 Regular Session
To: Ways and Means
By: Representative McCoy, Burnett, Hines, Mayo, Perkins
AN ACT TO CREATE AN ECONOMIC INCENTIVE ZONE TO BE KNOWN AS THE "DELTA REVITALIZATION ZONE"; TO CREATE THE DELTA REVITALIZATION ZONE AUTHORITY, WHICH SHALL BE THE GOVERNING BODY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF INCENTIVES AND PROGRAMS AVAILABLE UNDER THE DELTA REVITALIZATION ZONE (DRZ); TO PRESCRIBE THE DUTIES OF THE DRZ AUTHORITY AND SPECIFIC INCENTIVES TO BE IMPLEMENTED; TO ESTABLISH A SALES TAX CREDIT FOR PURCHASES OF BUILDING MATERIALS USED TO REHABILITATE BUSINESS PROPERTY IN THE DRZ; TO ESTABLISH SALES TAX CREDIT FOR WAGES PAID BY BUSINESSES TO NEW EMPLOYEES; TO ESTABLISH VARIOUS INCOME TAX CREDITS AVAILABLE TO BUSINESSES IN THE DRZ; TO PROVIDE THAT THE LEGISLATURE SHALL APPROPRIATE AN ADDITIONAL FIVE PERCENT OF STATE WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT FUNDS TO THE DRZ EACH YEAR; TO ESTABLISH QUALIFICATIONS FOR BUSINESSES, PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND INDIVIDUALS SEEKING TO UTILIZE THE INCENTIVES AVAILABLE IN THE DRZ; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) The Legislature finds that the Delta region is one (1) of the most economically depressed areas of the state, as evidenced by persistently high unemployment, a low workforce participation rate and high poverty rate. The Legislature further finds that the Delta region needs and is desirous of the specific aid of state government in order to attract private business investment, help existing businesses reinvest and grow, help communities and schools improve services and performance, and improve the economic chance for individuals to earn a decent living.
(2) The purposes of this act are to stimulate economic growth and to promote regional revitalization through the creation of an economic incentive zone for the Delta region.
SECTION 2. As used in this act, the following words and phrases have the meanings ascribed in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
(a) "Authority" or "DRZ Authority" means the Delta Revitalization Zone Authority.
(b) "Delta Revitalization Zone" or "DRZ" means an economic incentive zone that is comprised of the area encompassing the Mississippi Delta region.
(c) "Mississippi Delta region," "Delta region" or "region" means the western section of the State of Mississippi that lies between the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers, encompassing in part or whole the counties of Bolivar, Carroll, Claiborne, Coahoma, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Jefferson, Leflore, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tunica, Warren, Washington and Yazoo.
SECTION 3. (1) There is created the Delta Revitalization Zone (DRZ). The DRZ shall be governed by a Delta Revitalization Zone Authority, which shall be composed of a representative of each county in the region and each municipality in the region which has a population greater than ten thousand (10,000) according to the latest federal decennial census. The representatives of the counties and those municipalities entitled to representation on the DRZ Authority will be appointed by the governing authorities of the respective counties and municipalities. Appointments must be made within sixty (60) days after the effective date of this act. Members will be appointed to the DRZ Authority for a term of four (4) years. A chairman must be elected from among the membership of the DRZ Authority.
(2) A majority of the members of the DRZ Authority shall constitute a quorum for the transacting of business and the carrying out of the duties of the authority. Members of the DRZ Authority may not receive a salary but, subject to the availability of funding, may be reimbursed for expenses in the manner provided in Section 25-3-41. The DRZ Authority will meet on the call of the chairman or at the request of a majority of its members.
(3) The Delta Revitalization Zone Authority shall adopt rules and regulations for the implementation and administration of the programs provided for under this act. The DRZ Authority shall maintain an office and staff at a location within the DRZ region, as determined by a majority of the members of the authority.
SECTION 4. The following are the duties of the Delta Revitalization Zone Authority:
(a) To conduct an ongoing extensive marketing program to promote incentives within the zone available to workers and businesses and to prospective businesses outside the DRZ;
(b) To convene, on a quarterly basis, a meeting of representatives of each state and federal agency and major foundation that has programs and efforts in progress in the DRZ for the purpose of furthering coordination and collaboration of all work efforts;
(c) To work with all state and federal agencies and private entities to enhance its Delta Region Resource Directory and website in order to provide the most complete and current information on state programs and resources. The Web site must be designed to incorporate an electronic mailing list that local officials may use to request information and assistance. The DRZ Authority will enter into agreements with state, federal and private entities to market the Web site in order to bring awareness of the Web site and the programs of participating entities to local government representatives;
(d) To develop an economic distress index calculated according to the following formula: the most recent county unemployment rate divided by the same time period state unemployment rate; plus the most recent family below poverty rate divided by the same time period state family below poverty rate; plus the most recent county median family income divided by the same time period state median family income; plus the most recent substandard housing rate divided by the same time period state substandard housing rate. Those counties having the higher total index must be deemed to have a greater level of economic distress, and more emphasis must be given to the county with the highest economic distress index number;
(e) To establish an Early Learning Mentoring Program in each school district in the DRZ;
(f) To provide for the employment of a high school dropout prevention coordinator in each public high school in the DRZ and, in conjunction with the State Department of Education, to develop a comprehensive dropout prevention strategy for implementation by the coordinators in the DRZ public high schools;
(g) To provide for an educational cash incentive in the amount of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) for each adult over twenty-four (24) years of age who does not have a high school diploma, payable to the recipient upon his attaining a General Equivalency Diploma (GED);
(h) To provide a DRZ Nursing scholarship for the total tuition and required fees to any DRZ resident who agrees to practice nursing in the DRZ for no less than five (5) years after graduation from an accredited nursing program within the state;
(i) To establish a DRZ nursing shortage coordinator to work with health and teaching facilities and Delta residents in order to implement a comprehensive program to eliminate the shortage of nurses in the DRZ; and
(j) To establish a state match program to be known as the "Help the Delta Help Itself" through which the state will match city or county funds that are dedicated to community improvement projects.
SECTION 5. (1) With respect to sales tax paid on the purchase of building materials, every person owning or leasing real property that is located in the DRZ and used exclusively for business purposes who purchases building materials in the DRZ for the purposes of rehabilitating the business property is entitled to a refund from the State of Mississippi in an amount equal to the sales tax collected on behalf of the state on the sale of the building materials.
(2) To qualify for a refund of sales tax under this section, the person applying for the refund must meet all eligibility requirements prescribed by the DRZ Authority. The State Tax Commission, in consultation with the DRZ Authority, shall prescribe rules and regulations setting forth the requirements for eligibility and the process by which persons eligible for the tax refund authorized under this section may apply for the refund. The rules and regulations must require, at a minimum, the submission of written documentation evidencing the sales tax paid for building materials and proof that the building materials were used for the actual rehabilitation of business property situated in the DRZ.
SECTION 6. (1) Every business located in the DRZ which collects and remits state sales tax to the State Tax Commission is entitled to a sales tax credit from the State of Mississippi in an amount equal to seven percent (7%) of the wages paid by the business to each new employee who has been employed by the business for no less than six (6) months, not to exceed, in the aggregate for all new employees, the tax liability of the business for the applicable month. If the tax credit exceeds the average monthly sales tax liability for a business, the amount of the excess that is not used may be carried forward to the next succeeding month. The credit authorized under this section may be claimed after a new employee has been employed by the business continuously for six (6) consecutive months and may continue for the duration of the employment of the new employee until that employee has been employed continuously by the business for thirty-six (36) months.
(2) To qualify for a sales tax credit under this section, the business applying for the credit must meet all eligibility requirements prescribed by the DRZ Authority. The State Tax Commission, in consultation with the DRZ Authority, shall prescribe rules and regulations setting forth the requirements for eligibility and the process by which businesses eligible for the sales tax credit authorized under this section may apply the credit when submitting returns and payments under Section 27-65-33. The rules and regulations must require, at a minimum, the submission of written documentation evidencing the sales tax collected by the business and wages paid to new employees who qualify the business for the sales tax credit.
SECTION 7. (1) Every business located in the DRZ which pays state income tax is entitled to the following income tax credits from the State of Mississippi:
(a) A credit in an amount equal to five percent (5%) of the wages paid by the business to each new employee who has been employed by the business for no less than six (6) months, not to exceed, in the aggregate for all new employees, the tax liability of the business for the applicable year. The credit authorized under this section may be claimed after a new employee has been employed by a business continuously for six (6) consecutive months and may continue for the duration of the employment of the new employee until that employee has been continuously employed by the business for thirty-six (36) months.
(b) A credit to a new or expanded DRZ business, as defined under rules and regulations prescribed pursuant to subsection (2) of this section, in an amount equal to seventy-five percent (75%) of any ad valorem taxes paid on new or improved business property.
(c) A credit in an amount equal to fifty percent (50%) of business donations made by the taxpayer to an approved DRZ community development project.
(d) A credit in an amount equal to ten percent (10%) of any direct job training costs paid to train workers at any qualified training school located within the State of Mississippi.
(2) If the income tax credit or credits authorized under this section exceed the tax liability for a business, the amount of the excess may be carried forward to the next taxable year. To qualify for any income tax credit under this section, the business must meet all eligibility requirements prescribed by the DRZ Authority. The State Tax Commission, in consultation with the DRZ Authority, shall prescribe rules and regulations setting forth the requirements for eligibility and the process by which businesses may document eligibility.
SECTION 8. Beginning in the 2008 fiscal year, the Legislature shall provide an additional state workforce development grant each year to counties in the Delta region. The additional grant shall be equal to five percent (5%) of the total state workforce development funds allocated throughout the state, and such funds shall be in addition to any workforce development funds allocated to the DRZ counties.
SECTION 9. (1) In order to qualify for DRZ business incentives provided under this act, a business must be located in the DRZ and must meet any eligibility requirements prescribed by rules and regulations adopted by the DRZ or any other administering agency for the specific business incentive.
(2) In order to qualify for a DRZ community incentive provided under this act, a community located in the DRZ must demonstrate economic distress and must meet any eligibility requirements prescribed by rules and regulations adopted by the DRZ or any other administering agency for the specific community incentive.
(3) In order to qualify for a DRZ education incentive provided under this act, a public school must be located in the DRZ and must meet any eligibility requirements prescribed by rules and regulations adopted by the DRZ or any other administering agency for the specific public school incentive.
(4) In order to qualify for a DRZ individual employee incentive provided under this act, the individual must:
(a) Be a Mississippi resident and receive wages from an employer in the DRZ; and
(b)(i) Be eligible for benefits under the Workforce Investment Act as a dislocated worker or a low-income individual;
(ii) Have received public assistance benefits, such as cash payments including TANF, Safety Net, Medicaid, Food Stamps, anytime within the previous two (2) years (e.g. cash payments including TANF, Safety Net, Medicaid, Food Stamps);
(iii) Have income below the United States Commerce Department's established poverty level;
(iv) Be a member of a family whose income is below poverty level; or
(v) Be an honorably discharged veteran from any branch of the United States Armed Forces.
SECTION 10. Nothing in this act shall affect or defeat any claim, assessment, appeal, suit, right or cause of action for taxes due or accrued under the sales tax or income tax laws before the date on which this act becomes effective, whether such claims, assessments, appeals, suits or actions have been begun before the date on which this act becomes effective or are begun thereafter; and the provisions of the sales tax and income tax laws are expressly continued in full force, effect and operation for the purpose of the assessment, collection and enrollment of liens for any taxes due or accrued and the execution of any warrant under such laws before the date on which this act becomes effective, and for the imposition of any penalties, forfeitures or claims for failure to comply with such laws.
SECTION 11. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.