OIL AND GAS SEVERANCE
TAX REDUCTION BILL
Recognizing the abundance of oil and gas resources in Southwest Mississippi industry leaders and company representatives came to Melanie discussing the need for legislation to make developing the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale more affordable during the initial phases of development.
Melanie spent countless hours, for months, traveling the district, our state, and surrounding states talking to elected leaders, oil and gas company representatives, economic development professionals and constituents to gather as much information as possible. She spent weeks working with industry experts and Senate attorneys to carefully craft language into a bill that would best meet the needs of all parties involved including; taxpayers, local government entities, oil and gas companies and the State of Mississippi. During this process, Melanie negotiated back and forth on the details of the bill, making many changes, to best satisfy all parties involved.
In the end, to get the bill passed in the House of Representatives, Melanie had to meet the demands of the Democrat Chairman of the House Oil and Gas Committee. The demand was for Melanie to remove her name as the author of the bill and replace it with their name. Despite doing most of the heavy lifting for months to bring the bill to fruition, Melanie eagerly yielded to the request. Ownership of the bill was not important. Doing what was best for Southwest Mississippi was Melanie’s only priority.
Since the passage of the bill, we have seen oil and gas development in counties in Southwest Mississippi that likely would not have been possible before. Development that has created jobs, generated revenue for mineral rights holders and landowners, tax revenue for local jurisdictions, and the State of Mississippi.
MARKETING FUNDING BILL
Local leaders in Natchez have long played a key role in our state’s tourism industry. Recognizing that Mississippi was lagging behind other states in monies spent by the state to promote tourism leaders from Natchez and around our state came to Melanie with a possible solution.
Melanie was intrigued by the idea because it gave the state a way to generate more promotional dollars without raising taxes and without taking dollars from other existing state budgets. Melanie spent many hours in conversations with legislators and tourism industry leaders from other states who had already created similar funds in their states.
The bill was complex and took careful negotiation with legislators and other state leaders. Melanie worked with the MS Tourism Association, Convention and Visitors Bureau Directors from around the state, the Mississippi Development Authority, the governor’s office, lieutenant governor’s office, and other legislators for months. After successfully helping to foster the passage of the bill through the House of Representatives and the Senate Tourism Committee Melanie was called to bring the bill before the full Senate for presentation, discussion, and a vote. After a lengthy debate on the Senate floor, the bill was called for a vote and passed unanimously with affirmative votes from all 52 senators.
Nearly a dozen pastors from churches throughout Southwest Mississippi asked Melanie to look at what could be done to protect the rights and religious freedoms of students while attending public schools. Melanie spent hours researching options and realized a bill to address this matter had been introduced in the Senate in the previous years but had never been brought forward for a vote.
Working with the author of the original bill, Melanie helped to make additional changes and develop a plan to get the bill out of committee. Melanie helped pull together numerous meetings and hearing at the Capitol between pastors, educators, concerned parents, and legislators. After months of hearings, meetings in local communities, and visits with individual legislators the bill successfully passed and was signed into law by Mississippi’s governor.
Since the bill passed Melanie, along with other legislators and local leaders, have held numerous meetings around the state explaining the bill to students, parents and local educators making certain that everyone recognizes that just because a child goes to a public school in Mississippi they do not give up their religious liberties.
ADDITIONAL LEGISLATION PASSED
The above bills only represent a few of the more complex pieces of legislation Melanie worked on. Several of the other measures that were signed into law either authored or co-authored by Melanie include:
• Legislation to make the processing of mental health patients more efficient and affordable for local sheriff’s departments, while at the same time making sure patients get the help needed quicker.
• A bill to create the Domestic Violence Task Force to look at better ways to fight against domestic violence in our state.
• The Rural Physicians Scholarship Program which, removed limitation on the number of students admitted each year.
• The Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Act, which allows for the repeal of numerous burdensome small business regulations.
• A bill providing limited liability protection for families engaging in agri-tourism businesses.
• Legislation to decrease fees for carrying concealed weapons.
• And several pieces of legislation to exempt sales tax on various activities and products.
• A bill to prohibit and create punishment for voyeurism.
• Legislation to revise the statute of limitations for the prosecution of felony abuse of vulnerable persons.
• Legislation to exempt cottage food production from regulation up to a certain amount.
• The Mississippi Education Works Program enacting education reforms.