Hello, my name is Gene Newman and I am thankful for the opportunity to represent the voters of Mississippi House of Representative District 61. As a Pearl school graduate who has lived in Pearl for most of my life, I have been a dedicated community leader committed to bringing a strong voice to the area. If you have a legislative issue or any issue or problem dealing with a state agency, please contact me and I will do my best to help.
I will post House updates below and on the @genenewman61 Facebook page.
Here are the House Committees that I serve on:
Here is a link to bills that I have sponsored or cosponsored: http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2020/pdf/house_authors/newman.xml
You can call or text me at: 601-316-2491
You can email me at email@example.com
RULES: If you put me in a group text or a chain email - I will block you.
Weeks of January 6 and 13
On January 7, 2020, the Mississippi State Legislature began the first session of the new four-year term. Per the Constitution of the State of Mississippi, the first session of every term is scheduled to last 125 days, as opposed to 90 days. This is done to accommodate inaugurations, new committee chairmanships and procedural matters like choosing parking spaces and offices.
House members took the oath of office on the first day before the election of Speaker of the House and Speaker Pro Tempore. As part of the House Rules, both of these positions and the House Clerk are elected by the members and are sworn into office the first day of session. Speaker of the House Philip Gunn was elected to his third term as Speaker. Jason White was elected as the Pro Tempore after previously serving as Chairman of the Rules committee. Andrew Ketchings was also re-elected as House Clerk for the third time.
Although it is early in the session, the House has already taken up one bill. On Wednesday, January 8, House Bill 1 passed with a vote of 121-1 and has since passed the Senate floor. The bill would fully fund last year’s teacher pay raise after a miscalculation in the number of teachers led to a deficit. By appropriating an extra $18.4 million of the General Fund, teachers will now receive the $1,500 pay raise as promised last session.
On Thursday, January 9, six of the statewide elected officials were sworn into office by Chief Justice Michael Randolph before a joint session of the House and the Senate. The joint session also re-elected Steven Parks as state librarian.
Speaker Philip Gunn announced leadership of two important House committees. Representative John Read (R – Jackson) will return as the Chairman of Appropriations, while Representative Trey Lamar (R – Tate) is the new Chairman of Ways and Means. Representative Karl Oliver (R – Montgomery) was named the new Vice Chairman of Appropriations, and Representative Jody Steverson (R – Tippah) will be the new Vice Chairman of Ways and Means.
House members also had to elect fellow representatives to serve on the both the Management and Rules committees. All members split into the four Mississippi Congressional districts and nominate members to serve on these committees. Both committees are comprised of two members from each of the four Congressional districts, as well as the Speaker and the Pro Tempore.
On Tuesday, January 14, the inauguration ceremony of Governor Tate Reeves was held in the House Chamber due to the inclement weather outside. A packed chamber filled with legislators, statewide officials, Mississippi Supreme Court justices and other important personnel watched as he took the oath of office.
The Capitol was overflowing with guests the last two weeks because several swearing-in ceremonies were held. Visitors are always welcome to come to the Capitol to visit with their legislators and witness the legislative process.
Week of January 20
This was the third week of the 2020 Legislative Session. Speaker Philip Gunn made the much anticipated announcement of committee assignments on Thursday of this week. With this announcement, legislators will now begin meeting in their respective committees. The deadline for the introduction of general bills and constitutional amendments is later in the session, and after this deadline passes, committees will meet more often.
Because of the recent outbreak of prison violence across the state, legislators have begun to focus on our corrections system. The Legislative Black Caucus Criminal Justice Reform Task Force held a meeting this week to discuss different policy solutions. Many lawmakers and visitors also attended a prison reform rally held on the Capitol grounds on Friday morning.
Visitors at the Capitol this week included the Mississippi Nurses Association, gifted K-12 students from around the state, the Junior League of Jackson and the Mississippi Tourism Association.
Next Monday, Governor Tate Reeves will deliver his first State of the State address before a joint session of the House and the Senate. It will be held outside on the south steps of the Capitol, weather permitting.
Week of January 27
This was the fourth week of the 2020 Legislative Session. Because it is early in the session, the committees are just starting to meet as bills are still being drafted, so the floor action has been light. Bills must be passed out of committee before they are considered by the entire House. As a result of this, only one bill was voted on this week.
Senate Bill 2149 is an appropriation bill that would divert an additional $400,000 to the Department of Finance and Administration in preparation of the 2020 U.S. Census. These funds will be used to promote and educate Mississippians about the importance of being counted by the census. The bill passed with a vote of 114-5.
Governor Tate Reeves delivered his first State of the State address on Monday to a joint session of the Mississippi Legislature. He spoke of his plans for education, health care and workforce development. He also announced his plan to close Unit 29 at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, or Parchman. This is a response to the string of killings and other violent incidents in Mississippi prisons.
On Thursday evening, a special House Election Committee met to determine the outcome of the House District 40 election. Representative Hester Jackson-McCray (D – DeSoto) was elected by 14 votes in November 2019, and she has been serving in the House since the start of the Legislative Session. The bipartisan committee voted unanimously to recommend to the House that she remain in her seat. The entire House will have a vote on the floor to determine the final outcome.
Representative Ramona Blackledge (R – Jones) announced her resignation this week. A special election to fill the District 88 seat has not been announced.
Visitors at the Capitol this week included the Mississippi Occupational Therapy Association, Jackson State University Alumni and pharmacy students from around the state.
Week of February 3, 2020
This was the fifth week of the 2020 Legislative Session. Floor action has been light because the deadline to file general bills is still over a week away. Bills must be filed and then passed out of committee before they are considered by the entire House. The deadline for the introduction of general bills and constitutional amendments is Monday, February 17.
One bill that reached the House floor this week was House Bill 95. The bill would provide that the Commissioner of Insurance shall resolve certain disputes between provider and the insured regarding billing. The bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 111-4. The following day, the bill was held on a motion to reconsider.
This week, the House voted unanimously to seat Hester Jackson McCray (D – DeSoto). McCray won the District 40 election by 14 votes in November 2019. After her opponent contested the election results, a House Special Committee voted unanimously last week to recommend that Representative McCray keep her seat.
Visitors at the Capitol this week included Alcorn State University, the Mississippi Speech-Language Hearing Association, the Mississippi School of Math and Science, the Mississippi Economic Development Council, members of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., the Mississippi Library Association and the Mississippi Physical Therapy Association.
Week of February 10, 2020
This was the sixth week of the 2020 Legislative Session. House members had a busy week full of committee meetings and hearings. The deadline for the introduction of general bills and constitutional amendments is Monday, February 17, so members will remain busy over the next few weeks deciding which drafted bills will make it onto the House floor.
On Tuesday, Speaker Philip Gunn was presented the Angel Award by the Mississippi Center for Violence Prevention and was recognized for his commitment to fight human trafficking. In October 2018, Speaker Gunn’s Commission on Public Policy hosted a Human Trafficking Summit, and last session, the House passed House Bill 571 which made it illegal for a person under the age of 18 to be charged with prostitution.
After being held on a motion to reconsider at the end of last week, House Bill 95 came before the House again. The bill would provide that the Commissioner of Insurance shall resolve certain disputes between provider and the insured regarding billing. Amendment 1 to HB 95 was introduced and passed on a voice vote. The bill passed as amended and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.
House Bill 756 was the source of much debate during session on Thursday. The bill would require the Department of Finance and Administration to ascertain cost estimates of repairs at the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility. The correctional facility has been closed since the fall of 2016. The bill passed 91-22, and it has been held on a motion to reconsider.
Two Representatives presented bills for the first time before the House. Representative Price Wallace (R – Simpson) presented House Bill 687, which would extend the date of the repealer on the provision of law that requires the Mississippi Boll Weevil Management Corporation to submit the annual audit of its accounts to the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce by November 15. The bill passed 117-2. Representative Lee Yancey (R- Rankin) presented House Bill 408, which would provide requirements for credit for reinsurance. The bill passed 115-4.
Although several resolutions were passed by the House this week, one concurrent resolution in particular stood out. House Concurrent Resolution 13 honors the life of Mr. William J. “Billy” McCoy, who passed away in November 2019. Speaker McCoy was a member of the House from 1980 to 2012, serving as Speaker of the House from 2004 to 2012. During his time in the House, he also served as Chairman of Ways and Means, Chairman of Education and Vice-Chairman of Highways and Highway Financing (now Transportation), among his other committee appointments. HC 13 was passed unanimously by the members.
During session on Thursday, the House was visited by Miss Mississippi Mary Margaret Hyer. She addressed the House and spoke of her platform to increase the number of registered organ donors across the state.
Other visitors at the Capitol this week included Teen Pact Leadership Schools; the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks; the Mississippi Court Reporters Association; Mississippi Public Broadcasting; and the Mississippi Academy of Family Physicians.
Week of February 17, 2020
Legislators had a full schedule during the seventh week of the 2020 Legislative Session. The deadline for introducing bills was on Monday night, so the calendar quickly became full with bills and resolutions to discuss. Although most work is still happening in committees, several pieces of legislation reached the House floor.
After being held on a motion to reconsider last week, House Bill 756 came before the House again. The bill would require the Department of Finance and Administration to ascertain cost estimates of repairs at the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility. Amendment 1 to HB 756 was introduced and passed on a voice vote. The bill passed as amended and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.
House Bill 851 was another bill discussed both in committee and before the House this week. The bill adds an additional member appointed by the governor to the Corrections and Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force. The new member will act as an advocate for offenders and families who have been directly affected by the criminal justice system. The bill passed with a bipartisan vote of 117-1 and has been transmitted to the Senate.
Another uncontested bill was House Bill 412. The bill would authorize the State Veterans Affairs Board to sell or dispose of surplus property of veterans’ nursing homes and cemeteries. HB 412 passed unanimously in the House and has been sent to the Senate.
One bill that received much attention this week was House Bill 97. If enacted, this bill would prohibit the selling, transferring or marketing of urine, most notably used for manipulating drug tests. The bill passed on a vote of 108-8, and it has been held on a motion to reconsider.
Visitors at the Capitol this week included the Madison County Business League, the Mississippi Aquarium, the Epilepsy Foundation of Mississippi, the Mississippi Chapter of Links, Inc., the Stennis Space Center, Future Farmers of America students, the Mississippi Poultry Association and the Mississippi Egg Marketing Board.