Riverbend bill wins quick OK in Mississippi Senate

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Bills to spur development in DeSoto County and to help with hurricane recovery on the Gulf Coast moved quickly today, the first day of a special legislative session.

The Senate passed a $173 million incentive package for Riverbend Crossing, a proposed upscale entertainment and residential development in DeSoto County. The Senate also unanimously approved two bills designed to help the coast.

One bill would provide grants of up to $3 million to coast cities or counties that have lost at least 25% of their tax revenues since Hurricane Katrina swept ashore last August 29th. Another bill would reduce the sales tax rate for modular homes, some of which are called "Katrina cottages."

The rate would go from the current seven percent down to three percent. Mobile homes are now taxed at three percent.

All bills that cleared the Senate are moving to the House for more work. The House is working on its own versions of the bills for DeSoto County and the Coast.

The two chambers eventually must approve the same bills before anything can go to the governor.

Legislators also are considering a bill that would allow the city of Magee to issue up to $25 million in bonds for the local hospital.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)