BIPEC released their 2021 Business and Jobs report card on Monday.
The Mississippi Business and Industry Political Education Committee, or BIPEC, released its annual legislative score card on Monday. While several State Senators received an A for their voting record, no State Representatives in the Mississippi House ranked as high.
The report card looks at champions for businesses and jobs based on legislation. They also consider lawmakers’ support of economic growth, job development and business related issues during the session.
“BIPEC recognizes and appreciates the efforts of these Business & Jobs Champion Legislators,” said Derek Easley, BIPEC President & CEO. “For the members and supporters of BIPEC, the Report Card is a resource for the business community. It is a tool to see our legislators’ measured performance and their support for the growth of jobs and economic development in Mississippi.”
BIPEC gives a summary of each bill lawmakers were scored on through their website.
There were no A grades awarded to any House members for the 2021 Legislative session.
74 members received a B rating. Of those, 9 were Democrats and 2 were Independents. Nearly all of those who received a B rating voted against businesses on HB 1439 and SB 2971.
HB 1439 was the bill offered by Speaker of the House Philip Gunn to eliminate the individual income tax, however the legislation also increased taxes on businesses. Most House members voted in favor of the bill, which was against businesses in BIPEC’s rating.
SB 2971 began as a simple bond bill, but was later amended with language from HB 1439 in the House. BIPEC scored House members based on the insertion of the amendment and how they voted on it. Again, the vote for businesses was against the income tax amendment to the bill that would potentially raise sales tax from 7% to 9.5%.
Rep. Alyce Clark (D), Rep. Steve Hopkins (R), and Rep. Omeria Scott (D) all received a D score.
Rep. Joel Bomgar (R), Rep. Dana Criswell (R), and Rep. Stephen Horne (R), all received F ratings.
In total, 28 Mississippi Senators received an A grade on the report card, all of which are Republicans. Regarding the legislation highlighted by BIPEC, only a few bills had votes against them from that group.
Sen. Jennifer Branning and Sen. David Parker both voted against HB 1135, which created a delivery service for alcoholic beverages like beer and wine within a 30 mile radius of a package store. This also expanded the “wine-to-go” legislation for restaurants. The bill was passed.
Sen. Daniel Sparks and Sen. Brice Wiggins both voted for SB 2019, otherwise known as Ban the Box. The vote for businesses was against the bill. The bill would have prevented some state employers from requiring a prospective employee from divulging whether or not they have been convicted of a felony. They would be able to ask later, during the interview process. The bill died.
There were two D grades given in 2021. Sen. Barbara Blackmon and Sen. Sollie B. Norwood both received that business and jobs letter grade. Blackmon voted opposite three pieces of legislation deemed profitable for businesses and Norwood voted down 5.