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Legislature sends infrastructure and lottery bills to Gov. Phil Bryant's desk for last step

WORKING: An infrastructure bill that would redirect 15 percent of the use tax collected to road and bridge needs of cities and counties is on Gov. Phil Bryant's desk awaiting signature. Photo by the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

An infrastructure package and a bill that would create a state lottery now await the signature of Gov. Phil Bryant to become law.

The House killed the lottery bill's conference report reached with Senate leaders Monday, but kept the bill alive on a motion to reconsider. Tuesday, the conference report was put to another vote and it was approved by a 58-54 margin. The bill is headed to Bryant's desk and he's said he'll sign the bill.

Lawmakers estimate that the lottery will generate $40 million in its first year in operation and $80 million in subsequent years. Some controversial language — including exempting the Mississippi lottery corporation created by the bill from public records laws and the lack of a prohibition on "video lottery terminals" — was removed from the rewritten bill.

The lottery corporation will be subject to state public records laws and a prohibition on lottery machines was added into the bill's final draft.

The Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act of 2018 will send 35 percent of the state's use tax revenues by 2020 to cities and counties to help with infrastructure. The bill will additionally authorize $300 million in borrowing, with $250 million for the Mississippi Department of Transportation and $50 million for local infrastructure not administered by MDOT.

The bill would also increase registration fees for owners of hybrid and electric vehicles and redirect gaming tax revenue from sports wagering to roads and bridges. Hybrid owners will pay an additional $75 when they register their vehicles annually, while owners of electrics will pay $150.

"I am grateful to the House and Senate for passing the Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act," Bryant said in a statement on his Twitter page. "The resources allocated will upgrade infrastructure across the state, benefiting all Mississippians."

In fiscal year 2018, which ended June 30, the state collected $337,832,826 in use tax, which is a 7 percent tax assessed on all out of state purchases. Thirty-five percent of that total would add up to $118,241,489.

The bill would give $3 million to be divided equally among each municipality. Of the remainder, half would be allocated on a basis of the municipality's percentage of the state population and the other half would be divided up using a proportion based on the amount of sales tax revenue distributed to a municipality during the preceding fiscal year.

The counties would receive money as well under the plan. One third of the county monies would be evenly shared with each of the state's 82 counties.

The next third would be allocated to counties based on each county's proportion of the state's rural road miles.

The last third would be allocated to counties based on that county's percentage of the state's rural residents.

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