- Purpose and Composition
The Mississippi Motor Vehicle Commission consist of eight members, one of whom is appointed by the Attorney General from the state at large and one of whom is appointed by the Secretary of State from the state at large and six licensees of the Commission who are appointed by the Governor, one from the state at large and one from each of the five congressional districts of the state. The member appointed by the Governor from the state at large serves as the Chairman and one of the other members appointed by the Governor is designated to serve as vice-Chairman.
The purposes of the Commission are to regulate the distribution and sales of new motor vehicles in the State of Mississippi, to prevent frauds, unfair practices, discrimination, impositions and other abuses upon the citizens of the State of Mississippi; to avoid undue control of the independent motor vehicle dealer by motor vehicle manufacturing and distributing organizations, to foster and keep alive vigorous and healthy competition, to prevent the creation or perpetuation of monopolies, to prevent false and misleading advertising and to promote the public safety and welfare. (Miss. Code Ann. §§ 63-17-53 and 63-17-57).
The Commission holds its regular monthly meetings in its office at Jackson, Mississippi. The Commission may hold special meetings at any time and place within the State of Mississippi upon approval of a majority of its members.
A notice of meeting, including the agenda, should be sent to each commissioner at least one (1) week prior to each regularly scheduled monthly meeting. The notice should include the agenda for the meeting and the Commission should take no action on any item not listed on the agenda.
A majority of the Commission constitute a quorum for the transaction of any business. Neither the chairman nor vice-chairman, when he is presiding, shall be entitled to vote unless his vote is necessary to break a tie vote. (Miss. Code Ann. §§ 63-17-61 and 63-17-63).
The Commission employs an executive director who is in charge of the Commission's office and whose duties include the collection of all fees and charges under the provisions of the Mississippi Motor Vehicle Law, keeping a record of all proceedings of the Commission and an accurate account of all monies received and disbursed by the Commission. The Commission may employ such clerical and professional help and incur such expenses as may be reasonably necessary for the proper discharge of is duties. (Miss. Code Ann. §63-17-67).
Although the executive director serves at the will and pleasure of the Commission, the full-time support staff members are state-service employees and their tenure is subject to the rules and regulations of the State Personnel Board. Therefore, the Commission should not become involved in any personnel issues of employees except the executive director. All other full-time employees’ grievances that cannot be resolved by the executive director should be submitted to the State Personnel Board or the appropriate federal agency such as the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) or the Office of Safety Hazards Administration (OSHA)
- Rule Making Powers
The Commission shall have power to issue, amend and rescind such reasonable rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of the Mississippi Motor Vehicle Commission Law. A copy of the Commission's rules and regulations shall be filed in the Office of the Secretary of State. Any interested person shall have the right to petition the Commission for issuance, amendment or repeal of a rule or regulation. (Miss. Code Ann. § 63-17-69).
Applications for licenses shall be on forms prescribed by the Commission and must contain information relating to the applicant's financial standing, the applicant's business integrity, whether the applicant has an established place of business and is primarily engaged in the pursuit, avocation or business for which a license is applied for, and other pertinent information consistent with safeguarding the public's interest and welfare. An application for license as new motor vehicle dealer must also be accompanied by the filing with the Commission of a bona fide contract or franchise then in effect between the applicant and a manufacturer, distributor or wholesaler of the new motor vehicles unless such contract or franchise is already on file with the Commission in connection with a previous application submitted by the applicant in which case the applicant may identify the previous contract or franchise by appropriate reference and file any revisions which have been made to the contract or franchise. An applicant for a new vehicle dealer license must furnish satisfactory evidence that the applicant maintains adequate space for the display of new motor vehicles or that such space will be available within a reasonable time after receiving a license and that adequate space and facilities will be available in the building for the repair and servicing of motor vehicles and the storage of new parts and accessories. (Miss. Code Ann. § 63-17-75).
- License Fees and Expiration Dates
All licenses issued by the Commission shall expire on the thirty-first day of December following the date of issue and the fees for said licenses are:
- Four Hundred Dollars ($400.00) for each manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler, factory branch and division, or distributor branch or division, and wholesaler branch and division;
- One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) for each motor vehicle dealer, factory representative, distributor representative and wholesaler representative;
- Ten Dollars ($10.00) for each motor vehicle salesperson. (Miss. Code Ann. § 63-17-77). Any person, firm or corporation required to be licensed and fails to make application at the time required shall in addition to the regular fee pay interest at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum for the period of time during which he shall operate without a proper license and in addition thereto, shall pay a penalty of fifty percent (50%) of the amount of the license fee. Said penalty may be waived in whole or in part within the discretion of the Commission. (Miss. Code Ann. § 63-17-77).
- Six Hundred Dollars ($600.00) for each Vehicle Protection Product Warrantors (House Bill 844; Regulation 7); Each Vehicle Protection Product Warrantor will be assessed a two hundred dollar ($200.00) administrative fee upon initial application and any future renewals of licensures. Licensure for Vehicle Protection Product Warrantors run fiscally and expires on the thirtieth day of June following the date of issue.
- License of Salesperson
Every motor vehicle salesperson shall have his or her license upon his or her person or displayed at the place of employment when engaged in business and shall display the same upon request. In case of a change of employer, the salesperson shall adhere to the following procedure
- Mail or deliver the license and a $2.50 fee to the Commission within three (3) days for the Commission's endorsement of such change upon the license. The license shall be accompanied by a statement setting forth the name and address of the new employer, the date employment terminated with last employer and date employment commenced with new employer;
- The last employer of the licensee shall, within three (3) days following the termination of employment of the licensee, make a report to the Commission setting forth the reasons for the termination and such other information the Commission may require;
- Upon receipt by the Commission of the licensee's license and fee and the last employer's report, the Commission shall immediately make an appropriate endorsement on the license showing the change of employer and mail the license to the licensee unless the Commission has grounds to believe that the licensee is no longer qualified as a motor vehicle salesperson. In such case the salesperson and the new employer shall be immediately notified that a hearing will be held to determine whether the license should be revoked or suspended.
- If the license cannot be endorsed and returned within a period of three (3) days following receipt of the licensee's license and fee and the last employer's report, the executive director shall mail a permit to the licensee which will serve as a license until such time as the issues are resolved. &40;Miss. Code Ann. § 63-17-81).
- Grounds for Denial, Revocation, Or Suspension of License
The Commission may deny an application for a license, or revoke or suspend a license after it has been granted, for any of the following reasons:
- Proof of unfitness of applicant or licensee under the standards established and set out in the Mississippi Motor Vehicle Commission Law;
- For fraud practiced or any material misstatement made by an applicant in any application for license;
- Willful failure to comply with any provision of the Motor Vehicle Commission Law or any rule or regulation adopted by the Commission;
- Change in condition after license is granted or failure to maintain the qualifications for license;
- Continued or flagrant violation of any of the provisions of Motor Vehicle Commission Law or any of the rules and regulations of the Commission;
- For any willful violation of any law relating to the sale, distribution or financing of motor vehicles;
- Willfully defrauding any retail buyer to the buyer's damage;
- Willful failure to perform any written agreement with any retail buyer;
- The failure of a manufacturer to specify the delivery and preparation obligations of its motor vehicle dealers prior to delivery of new motor vehicles;
- On proof that any manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler, distributor branch or division has unfairly and without due regard to the equities of the parties or to the detriment of public welfare failed to properly fulfill any warranty agreement or to adequately and fairly compensate any of its motor vehicle dealers for labor, parts and/or incidental expenses incurred by any such dealer with regard to factory warranty agreements performed by any such dealer;
- For the commission of any act prohibited by sections 63-17-73 to 63-17-83 of the Motor Vehicle Commission Law or to perform any of the requirements of said sections.
If the commission finds, after notice and a hearing, that there is sufficient cause to revoke the license of any licensee, the Commission may in lieu of revoking such license assess a civil penalty against the licensee not to exceed Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00). If the Commission finds that sufficient cause exist only for the suspension of a license, the Commission may in lieu of suspending such license assess a civil penalty of not less than Fifty Dollars ($50.00) nor more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) per day for each day such license would otherwise be suspended, but the total of such penalty shall not exceed Seven Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($7,500.00). (Miss. Code Ann. § 63-17-85).
All complaints warranting investigations should be conducted by the staff and such other persons as the Commission may authorize to assist in the investigations. Commissioners should not participate in investigations because to do so may jeopardize their ability to serve as impartial decision makers should the matter being investigated proceed to a hearing before the Commission. However, this does not mean that a commissioner should remain silent when he or she becomes aware of possible violations of the Motor Vehicle Commission laws or regulations. Indeed, each commissioner is obligated to report to the executive director and/or the commission, knowledge of possible violations of the laws or regulations governing licensing of the Commission.
Investigations are informal proceedings to obtain information and are not proceedings in which action is taken against anyone. The purpose of an investigation is to discover and produce evidence, not to prove a pending change or complaint. However, a complaint or charge may be made based upon facts discovered during an investigation. Investigative records are exempt from the requirements of the Public Records Law and do not have to be disclosed to anyone, including commissioners; nor is there a requirement that the target of the investigation be informed of the fact that an investigation is being conducted.
The Commission shall not deny an application for a license, revoke or suspend a license without first giving the applicant or licensee a hearing or an opportunity to be heard on the issue of whether the applicant is qualified under the provisions of Motor Vehicle Commission Law to receive the license applied for or whether there are sufficient grounds upon which to base such revocation or suspension. (Miss. Code Ann. § 63-17-89).
Any interested party shall have the right to have the Commission call a hearing for the purpose of taking action in respect to any matter within the Commission's jurisdiction by filing with the Commission a sworn complaint setting forth the grounds upon which the complaint is based. The Commission may on its own motion call a hearing for the purpose of taking action in respect to any matter within its jurisdiction. (Miss. Code Ann. § 63-17-91).
When a hearing is to be held before the Commission, the Commission shall give written notice thereof via registered mail to all parties whose rights may be affected thereby at least seven (7) days prior to the hearing. Hearings shall be held at the Commission's office in Hinds County, Mississippi or some other location in said county. If any party who is notified of a hearing fails to appear in person or by counsel, the commission may make any decision or take any action it deems appropriate with respect to any issue or question contained in the notice of the hearing. (Miss. Code Ann. §63-17-93). All parties whose rights may be affected at any hearing before the Commission shall have the right to appear personally and by counsel, to cross-examine witnesses appearing against them and to present witnesses and evidence in their own behalf. The Commission shall make and keep a record of each hearing and shall provide a transcript thereof to any interested party upon his request and at his expense. Testimony presented at all hearings shall be taken either stenographically or by machine. All witnesses who testify before the Commission shall testify under oath or affirmation. Any member of the commission or any other authorized officer may administer oaths or affirmations.
- Issuance of Summons, Citation, or Subpoena
The sheriffs and constables of this state and any employee of the Commission shall execute any summons, citation or subpoena which the Commission may cause to be issued and shall make return thereof to the Commission. The sheriffs and constables serving and returning process shall be paid the same fees provided for such services in the circuit court. Any person who appears before the commission or a duly designated employee thereof in response to a summons, citation or subpoena shall be paid the same witness fee and mileage allowance as witnesses in the circuit court.
- Rules of Order and Procedure for Hearings
All hearings before the Commission shall be open to the public. The Commission or the party who filed a verified complaint shall have the burden of proof and therefore will be afforded the opportunity to proceed with its proof first. Hearings shall be informal and the technical rules of evidence shall be relaxed.
- Hearing Officer
The Commission may employ a hearing officer to preside at the hearing or may utilize an attorney from the Office of the Attorney General to preside at the hearing. The hearing officer is responsible for insuring that the hearing proceeds in an orderly and expeditious manner and for ruling on all objections, exceptions and other evidentiary matters. In hearings involving complex issues, the Commission may authorize the hearing officer to compile a written summary of the evidence presented and submit the summary to the Commission for its consideration prior to making a decision.
All final decisions shall be made by the Commission within thirty (30) days of the last day of the hearing. The Commission may obtain legal advise from its counsel regarding any decision it is contemplating.
When a hearing is held upon a motion of the Commission, the commission's case shall be presented by either its executive director or some other person designated by the Commission. When a hearing is held upon a verified complaint, the complainant may present his case personally or by counsel. The party against whom the complaint is filed may present its defense personally or by counsel.
The Commission is an agency of the State of Mississippi and members of the Commission cannot take any official action on behalf of the Commission except at a regular or special called meeting where a quorum is present and all members have received notice of the meeting. The chairman is not entitled to vote on any matter before the Commission unless his vote is necessary to break a tie-vote. The vice-chairman is also precluded from voting when presiding unless his vote is necessary to break a tie-vote.
As a state agency, the Commission receives legal advice and representation from the office of the Attorney General. The Commission may contract with outside counsel to provide legal advice and representation, but this may only be done after the Commission makes an official request to eh Attorney General to approve such a contract and the requested approval has been obtained.
- Order of Proof
Immediately following the calling of the case for hearing, all witnesses then present must be administered the oath or affirmation by either a member of the Commission or some other officer authorized by law to do so.
- Each party may, within the discretion of the Commission, be permitted to make a brief opening statement not to exceed five minutes.
- The Commission or the complaining party shall call and examine its witnesses and present such other evidence it wishes the Commission to consider. At the conclusion of the examination of each witness by the Complainant, the adverse party may cross examine the witness. Any member of the Commission and the hearing officer may ask questions of witnesses at any point during their testimony.
- After the complainant has rested its case, the adverse party may call such witness and present such other evidence it wishes to the Commission. These witnesses are also subject to cross-examination and examination by any member of the Commission or the hearing officer.
- While there is no pre-imposed limit on the number of witnesses a party may call, the Commission reserves the right to limit the number of witnesses when, in the opinion of the Commission, the testimony is unduly cumulative or repetitive.
- Rebuttal evidence may be heard in the discretion of the Commission.
- Closing arguments may be heard in the discretion of the Commission.
- All decisions of the Commission with respect to hearings shall be incorporated into orders of the Commission and spread upon its minutes.
- The commission may apply to the chancery court to which its order is appealable for the enforcement of such order by injunction.
Any person who is a party to any hearing before the Commission and who is aggrieved by the decision of the Commission may appeal to the appropriate chancery court in accordance with the procedure set forth in Section 63-17-99 of the Mississippi Code.
Once the Commission has scheduled a hearing, all requests for continuances must be made in writing and submitted to the Commission's office. The executive director is authorized to grant one continuance for up to thirty (30) days. Any additional continuances may only be granted by the Commission for good cause shown.
- Finality of Decision
No decision of the Commission made as a result of a hearing shall become final with respect to any party affected and aggrieved by such decision until such party shall have exhausted or shall have had an opportunity to exhaust all of his remedies. However, any such decision may be made final if the Commission finds that failure to do so would be detrimental to the public interest or public welfare. The finality of any decision shall not prevent any party aggrieved thereby from appealing the decision to the appropriate chancery court.
- Informal Complaints
Any person or entity desiring to make a complaint against any licensee of the Commission may do so by calling or writing the Commission's office and giving the specifics of the complaint. If the complaint falls within the jurisdiction of the Commission, the executive director or his designee shall attempt to resolve the complaint between the parties in an informal manner. If the complaint cannot be resolved in an informal manner, the complaining party may file a verified or sworn written complaint which will be considered and acted upon by the Commission.
- Public Records
All records the Commission is required by law to maintain, including final orders, decisions, opinions, rules and regulations, are public records and may be inspected and copied by members of the public at the Commission's office during normal business hours. Copies of public records may be requested in writing from the Commission's office at Post Office Box 16873, Jackson, Mississippi 39236-0873 and shall be provided within ten (10) days of the request. A fee of twenty-five cents ($.25) per page shall be charged for the cost of copying each page of public records and shall be collected in advance of complying with the request. Any denial for access to or copies of public records shall be in writing and shall contain a statement of the specific reasons for the denial. All denials shall be maintained in a separate file for at least three (3) years and said file shall be made available for inspection and copying during regular office hours upon written request. This rule shall not be construed to conflict with, amend, repeal or supersede any statutory provision which declares a public record to be confidential or privileged or provides that a public record shall be exempt from disclosure
- Notice of Pending Applications, Rules and Regulations
Any person or entity desiring to receive notice of pending applications, rules or regulations may obtain such notice and request an opportunity to be heard by submitting a written request to the Commission's office at 1755 Lelia Drive, Suite 200, Jackson, Mississippi 39216.