Representative doubtful bill will pass House

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Despite tremendous pressure from the public, Biloxi Representative Michael Janus says some of his fellow lawmakers don't consider property tax relief a priority.

"I've gotten the most phone calls over this exemption than any other, so I'm pleased that the Senate has moved so quickly to address this issue and give the tax payers some relief," Janus said.

On Friday, the Senate passed a homestead exemption bill giving some Mississippians a larger tax break on their homes. Many of them faced large tax increases from recent reappraisals. The bill now heads to the house, but Janus doubts it will pass in the house.

"It's unfortunate that in the House the democratic leadership has chosen to use the first week of session to spend money we don't have in addition to raise taxes on people."

The bill passed by the Senate would increase the homestead exemption for people over 65 or those who are disabled. The exemption would go from $75,000 to $100,000. Janus says he glad the Senate decided not to wait on this matter.

"I would hope that we in the house would have the opportunity to do something similar to that to raise that homestead exemption level to 100,000 to provide the taxpayers with some relief because we know they need it."

Under the bill, counties cannot raise property taxes the year after reappraisal. Also, supervisors would be required to reduce millage rates to keep taxes at the same level as the previous year. The bill now goes to the House.

Mississippi House leaders may also bring up a cigarette tax bill this week. The bill proposes increasing the excise tax by 82 cents a pack. That would make the rate one-dollar a pack.

There is widespread support for the bill. Many feel it would help reduce smoking and the illnesses caused by it. Some lawmakers say the increase will generate the revenue Mississippi needs in this souring economy.