Governor's Special Call Legislative Session Includes
Job-Creation, Katrina Recovery, Housing and Health Care Issues
From: Office of the Governor
Governor Haley Barbour's official call for a special session of the
Mississippi Legislature seeks state incentives for a huge economic
development project in DeSoto County as well as eliminating barriers for
construction of new housing and financial assistance for cash-strapped
local governments on the Mississippi Coast.
In releasing the official call, or agenda, for the special session to
begin at 9 a.m. Thursday, Governor Barbour said he will also ask lawmakers
approve a project to expand Magee General Hospital. A bill that would have
allowed the City of Magee to issue bonds to finance a $25 million hospital
expansion was among several local and private bills that failed in the
final days of the 2006 regular session.
Governor Barbour said if the House and Senate leadership agree on other
local and private issues he will likely add those issues to the call.
"Working with the leadership of the House and Senate, I believe we have
developed a plan to deal with issues that require immediate action,"
Governor Barbour said. "I am hopeful this special session will be short
Here is a summary of other issues in the call:
* Riverbend Crossing: Certain elements of the proposed Riverbend Crossing
project in DeSoto County, which includes a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Company
(MGM) entertainment district, require legislative action before they can
go forward. Riverbend is a 4,500-acre multi-phase master planned community
that will consist of a blend of commercial, recreational, resort, tourism
and residential development.
Developers have stated their intention to invest $2.7 billion over 15
years. In the first phase, in return for state support, developers have
committed a minimum capital investment of $475 million and creation of a
minimum of 3,500 new, full-time jobs.
The Legislature is being asked to approve $23 million for public
infrastructure - roads, water and sewer - to serve the project and a
tourism sales tax rebate that is limited to 30 percent of capital
expenditures for each eligible project investment for 10 years. This sales
tax rebate will equal 80 percent of the sales tax collected from each
eligible project under a total rebate ceiling of $150 million for the
* Removing barriers to housing on the Coast: The number one priority and
challenge in Mississippi caused by Katrina is housing. More than 240,000
units of housing were damaged by Katrina statewide, representing 23
percent of the state's occupied housing units. Nearly 80,000 units of
housing suffered major or severe damage, or were destroyed, approximately
53,000 of which were in the three coastal counties.
Due to labor supply constraints, the State must encourage alternatives to
conventional, site-built, "stick-built" homes. One such alternative is
"Modular homes" are often confused with "manufactured housing" (also
referred to as mobile homes) since they are both "manufactured" in a
plant. However, there are substantial differences between the two. Mobile
homes are built to the HUD code, which is a national code governing the
manufactured housing industry. Modular housing is typically built to
comply with the local building codes governing conventional construction,
e.g. the International Residential Code. Therefore, the construction of
modular housing is virtually the same as a conventionally built home and
qualifies for conventional mortgage financing.
Modular housing under Mississippi law is taxed at 7 percent while
manufactured housing is taxed at 3 percent. Governor Barbour is asking the
Legislature to reduce the tax on modular housing to the same level as
manufactured housing in order to encourage more production of housing
units to better serve the housing needs of residents victimized by
* Financial help to Coast cities and counties: The special session call
asks the Legislature to approve a mechanism for awarding direct grants of
up to $3 million to coastal city and county governments that have lost
more than 25 percent of their revenues due to Hurricane Katrina. No
general fund appropriation is required under this plan.
The complete text and other details in Governor Barbour's call for this
special session may be found at