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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.

Gene NewmanI will post House updates below and on the @genenewman61 Facebook page.

Here are the House Committees that I serve on:

Apportionment and Elections
Banking and Financial Services
Insurance
Judiciary B
Judiciary En Banc
Military Affairs
Public Property

Here is a link to bills that I have sponsored or cosponsored in the 2022 session: http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2022/pdf/house_authors/newman.xml

Thank you!

- Gene

You can call or text me at: 601-316-2491

You can email me at gene@genenewman.ms

RULES:  If you put me in a group text or a chain email - I will block you.

 

 

 

 

UPDATES from the 2022 Session:  The House adjourned Sine Die on April 5th, 2022

Week of April 4, 2022

This was the final week of the 2022 Legislative Session. Legislators completed the last day on Tuesday, April 5, after working past the initial deadlines to negotiate the more than $7 billion state budget. Many monumental pieces of legislation made it through the process this year. Bills are either awaiting the governor’s signature or have already been signed.

The largest tax cut in state history will be realized thanks to the House’s Mississippi Tax Freedom Act. Each year, $525 million will be cut until 2026. By that time, Mississippi will have the fifth best marginal tax rate of states with a personal income tax. This legislation provides a path for total elimination of the income tax.

Mississippi teachers will be getting their largest pay raise in state history under the House’s START Act. The average pay raise for teachers is $5,140, and teacher assistants will get a bump of $2,000. Starting salary for Mississippi teachers is now well above both the regional and national averages.

The Legislature appropriated $1.5 billion in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) to water, sewer, broadband, healthcare and other needs.

Under the Mississippi Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, no employer can pay women less for doing the same amount of work as a man. Before this session, Mississippi did not have any equal pay laws on the books.

New lines were drawn for Congressional, State Senate and State House districts, which uphold the “one person, one vote” principle. Each State House district contains approximately 24,000 people.

The Pregnancy Resource Act provides a $3.5 million tax credit to nonprofits that operate as a crisis pregnancy center.

Under Parker’s Law, a person giving or selling fentanyl that leads to the recipient’s death could serve 20 years to life behind bars.

The Broadband Accessibility Act will expand coverage to Mississippians with little to no internet access.

The Bill Kinkade FAITH Scholarship Program will provide financial assistance for postsecondary education to all current and former foster children who entered the program on or after age 13.

Mississippians will now have a new state song. “One Mississippi” by country artist and Greenville native Steve Azar will be Mississippi’s contemporary state song. The law also creates the Mississippi State Songs Study Committee, which will decide on official state songs in other genres.

Passed early in the session, the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act outlines a medical marijuana program that will treat conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s, ALS and epilepsy, to name a few.

Proposed legislation that did not make it through the bill-making process includes restoring the ballot initiative process, expanding postpartum Medicaid coverage and privatizing liquor sales in the state.

The House adjourned sine die on Tuesday evening. This concluded the 2022 Legislative Session, which was the third session in the four-year term.

 

Week of March 28, 2022

This was the thirteenth week of the 2022 Legislative Session. Legislators worked through the weekend to finalize the state budget and other bills. Most of the budget was not completed by Monday’s deadline, so the legislature passed House Concurrent Resolution 89 extending the session by a few days and suspending the deadlines for certain bills.

Though the hours at the Capitol were long, legislators worked extremely hard. The House adopted more than 80 conference reports on the floor.

Both the House and Senate redistricting plans, JR 1 and JR 202 respectively, were also publicly unveiled this week. Joint Resolution 1 was introduced on Tuesday, and only one amendment was adopted. Amendment 1 to JR 1 by Representative Zakiya Summers (D – Hinds) swaps some precincts in House Districts 67 and 68. JR 1 passed as amended 81-38 before being sent to the Senate. Joint Resolution 202 was taken up on Thursday. The resolution passed with little debate by a vote of 68-49. Both maps can be viewed on the MARIS website.

By the end of the week, it became clear that work on the state budget was not complete. The House passed House Concurrent Resolution 90, which further extends the date of adjourning sine die (the last day of the legislative session). This was done to ensure that the budget is finalized before session concludes. The original date of sine die was Sunday, April 3; per HCR 90, it has been pushed to Sunday, April 10 at midnight. Legislators hope to wrap up business by the beginning of next week.

 

Week of March 21, 2022

This was the twelfth week of the 2022 Legislative Session. At this point in the session, bills have either been sent to the governor to be signed or are being discussed in conference.

Conference on a bill occurs when further discussion is needed to reach the best solution. A conference consists of three representatives and three senators who work together to finalize a bill. More than 225 bills are currently in conference, including those that deal with the state budget. Once a bill is out of conference, it must go to both the House and Senate for a vote before being sent to the governor.

Along with holding conferences all week, the House did meet to discuss and pass local and private bills, suffrage bills and resolutions and to honor special guests. The House also brought up and voted on several conference reports that have already been filed.

On Tuesday, the House took up the conference report on House Bill 530, or the START Act. The almost $250 million plan includes an average pay raise of $5,140 for teachers and a $2,000 pay raise for assistant teachers starting in the 2022-2023 school year. Starting teacher salary will go to $41,638, which is higher than both the regional and national averages. The plan also includes step increases of at least $400 annually, a $1,000 bump every five years and a $2,500 increase the 25th year. With little debate, the final plan passed the House 117-5, and House Bill 530 has been sent to Governor Reeves for his signature.

On Wednesday, the House presented a conference report of the Mississippi Tax Freedom Act of 2022 (House Bill 531) to the Senate. As part of the proposal, the state would cut $100 million of the personal income tax every year until it is eliminated entirely. There is a repealer in the report, which would ensure that the Legislature reauthorize the tax cut after six years. Final details will have to be decided Saturday at 8 p.m., the deadline for conference reports on appropriations and general bills.

The House also took up a bill that would codify the 2011 eminent domain ballot initiative. The original initiative prohibited the state and local governments from taking private property by eminent domain and then reselling to other persons/businesses for a period of ten years. Because the Mississippi Supreme Court struck down the ballot initiative process in May 2021, the language from the eminent domain initiative needed to be added to the Mississippi Code. Senate Concurrent Resolution 583 suspended the rules to allow House Bill 1769 to be introduced. HB 1769 passed the House 119-3.

With only one week left in the 2022 Session, legislators will remain in Jackson to work through the weekend. The deadline for bills to come out of conference and pass in both houses occurs next week. Any bills that are passed will then be sent to the governor to be signed into law.

 

Week of March 14, 2022

This was the eleventh week of the 2022 Legislative Session. Because it is late in the session, much of the week was spent deciding whether to concur with any changes made to House bills by the Senate or to invite conference on those bills. In conference, representatives and senators work together to finalize the details of each bill before they are sent to the governor.

Most House bills that were discussed this week were sent to conference. Included in the bills being sent to conference are most of the revenue and appropriations bills from the House and Senate, which will decide the state’s budget.

Several local and private bills were also taken up this week. These bills deal with a variety of topics such as authorizing cities to contribute to local nonprofits and extending repealers on certain cities’ tourism taxes. The deadline for the House to introduce these local and private revenue bills was Friday, March 18. Local and private bills that are not deemed revenue bills have until next Friday, March 25 to be introduced.

The House also introduced House Concurrent Resolution 77, condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. HCR 77 passed with a unanimous vote of 118-0 and has been sent to the Senate.

Two notable musicians were honored by the House this week. On Wednesday, songwriter and Tupelo native Tommy Barnes visited the Capitol where he serenaded members with some original tunes. Thursday, the House was visited by Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Rickey Medlocke, who now resides in Olive Branch with his wife. The House presented Mr. Medlocke with House Resolution 23, which commends him on his successful music career.

The House also honored the legacy of the late Retired Brigadier General Martha Jo Leslie. Serving as a nurse in the military, General Leslie was at one point the only woman in the Mississippi Army National Guard. The Veterans Home in Kosciusko is named in her honor. The House presented her family and friends with House Concurrent Resolution 47 which commends her life upon her passing in January 2022.

Other visitors this week included the Mississippi Library Association, Mississippi Podiatric Medical Association, Mississippi Small Business Development Center and Mississippi Votes.

Next week as the session begins to wind down, legislators will spend much of their time in conference committees ironing out the final details of bills that were sent to conference. These conference committees will then have to file reports before the end of session.

 

Week of February 28, 2022

This was the ninth week of the 2022 Legislative Session. The deadline for House committees to report general bills originating from the Senate occurred Tuesday, March 1 at 8 p.m. Any Senate bills that did not make it out of committees died. Members began working on these Senate bills on the House floor, and the deadline for these bills to be passed is next Wednesday, March 9.

The most debated bill that was taken up in the House was Senate Bill 2113. The bill would prohibit any school in Mississippi from teaching that any individual or group is superior or inferior to another based on race, sex, ethnicity or religion. The bill’s short title was labeled “to prohibit Critical Race Theory,” a hot-button issue across the country. Proponents of the bill said the bill would prevent discrimination in schools, while the opposition argued that passing the bill could prevent Mississippi and American History from being told truthfully. After more than six hours of debate, seventeen failed amendments and sixteen members speaking on the bill, SB 2113 passed the House by a vote of 75-43. The bill was then held on a motion to reconsider.

The House will continue to work on bills originating from the Senate until the deadline next Wednesday. All Senate bills approved by the House will be sent back with changes to the Senate where they can concur with the changes or invite conference.

Conference was invited on House Bill 530, or the START Act of 2022. This teacher pay raise bill was taken up in the Senate late on Tuesday, where the Senate introduced a strike-all amendment and inserted the language from their own bill. The final details of the bill will not be decided until conference.

On Thursday, the House recognized the Mississippi State Baseball team for winning the 2021 NCAA National Championship. Earlier in the session, House Concurrent Resolution 8 was passed, commending the team on their accomplishment.

Other visitors this week include NASA and the John C. Stennis Space Center, the Bolton Edwards Middle School Basketball teams, Dan Knecht and Jerry St. Pe’ of Jackson County, Magnolia Speech School, the Mississippi Aquarium and the Mississippi Home Educators Association.

 

Week of February 21, 2022

Pages for week were Pepper Newman and Connor Mullins

 

This was the eighth week of the 2022 Legislative Session. Wednesday, Feb. 23 marked the deadline for original floor action on House appropriations and revenue bills. The Appropriations committee considered most budget bills last week, but the Ways and Means committee took up several revenue bills to meet this week’s deadline.

The Pregnancy Resource Act (House Bill 1685) would authorize a tax credit for individuals or businesses who donate money to a nonprofit that operates as a crisis pregnancy center. The bill passed with a bipartisan vote of 115-0.

House Bill 1530 would provide bond money to match federal funds in the Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund. HB 1530 passed 112-8 and has been sent to the Senate.

Two different bills would allow income tax credits for certain entities. House Bill 1108 would authorize an income tax credit for certain railroad reconstruction and/or replacement expenditures. House Bill 1684 would authorize an income tax credit for qualified wood energy products and forest maintenance projects. Both bills passed the House and have been sent to the Senate for consideration.

House Bill 1564 would authorize county or municipal leaders to grant a partial ad valorem tax exemption for nonresidential property that is being converted to residential property. The bill passed unanimously by a vote of 119-0.

Certain highway projects around the state would be funded by bond money in House Bill 1686. This bond bill passed 116-3.

House Bill 1639 would impose a tax on motor vehicles charged at alternative-fuel stations, most notably electric vehicles. This tax would be similar to taxes already imposed on gasoline and diesel vehicles. The bill passed the House by a vote of 102-14 and has been sent to the Senate.

Many of these revenue bills include a “reverse repealer” clause, meaning that these bills will go to conference for further revision before the end of the session.

Committees began to meet again this week to discuss Senate bills. Over the next few weeks, Senate bills will come out of House committees and onto the House floor for discussion. The Senate will go through the same process with House bills.

One bill that has already made its way to the House floor from the Senate side is Senate Bill 2806, which would prohibit reverse auctions for repair and remodeling of public facilities. The bill passed by a vote of 81-32 before being held on a motion to reconsider.

On Tuesday, the House honored two members of the Jackson Fire Department for their service on the Mississippi Urban Search and Rescue Task Force during Hurricane Ida. Lieutenant Toby Johnson (House Concurrent Resolution 11) and Linc Tucker (House Concurrent Resolution 12) were presented with their respective resolutions in the chamber gallery.

Other visitors at the Capitol this week included the Mississippi Youth Council, the American Heart Association, the Mississippi Chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies, the Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Teen Pact and the ACLU of Mississippi.

Week of February 14, 2022

This was the seventh week of the 2022 Legislative Session. With general bills out of the way, representatives began working on appropriations and revenue bills. The appropriations bills will determine how much money is given to various state agencies.

The House is responsible for looking at the preliminary budgets of about 50 state agencies, including the Departments of Education, Transportation, Insurance, Health, Medicaid and Human Services. These bills represent half of the state’s budget; the other half is currently being considered by the Senate and will be sent to the House for consideration later in the legislative session.

Budgets include reverse repealers, a clause which ensures that a bill cannot become law before going to a conference committee for further revisions. With reverse repealers in place, many appropriations bills were voted on in a block to help speed up the process.

The FY23 budgets for these state agencies are recommended by the Legislative Budget Office. These budgets will not be complete until the end of the legislative session when they go to conference committees.

The House Ways and Means committee also took up several bills on the House floor this week.

House Bill 1662 would authorize issuance of bonds to construct a new Mississippi Armed Forces Museum. Currently, the museum, which underwent a renovation in 2015-2016, is at Camp Shelby. The location for the new museum would be owned by the Mississippi Military Department and would be located near Camp Shelby. The bill passed by a vote of 114-7 and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.

Other Ways and Means bills included a bill that would exempt the sales of coins, currency and bullion from sales tax (House Bill 426); a bill that would exempt property owned by a university foundation from ad valorem tax (Senate Bill 2769); and a bill authorizing issuance of bonds for various purposes across the state (House Bill 1663).

The deadline for original floor action on House appropriations and revenue bills is next Wednesday, Feb. 23. After that, House committees will begin considering general bills which passed through the Senate.

On Wednesday of this week, the Jackson State University football team, Sonic Boom of the South marching band, alumni and fans celebrated JSU Capitol Day. The football team was presented in the House chamber with House Concurrent Resolution 30, which commends and congratulates the Jackson State team on winning the 2021 SWAC Championship.

Other visitors at the Capitol this week included the Mississippi Library Commission, Mississippi Public Broadcasting, DuBard School for Language Disorders, Tougaloo College and the Mississippi Chapter of the National Association for Social Workers.

 

Week of February 7, 2022

This was the sixth week of the 2022 Legislative Session. The House met as a whole throughout the week to discuss bills that made it out of committee and onto the calendar. Thursday, Feb. 10 was the deadline for members to introduce and discuss these general bills. Any bills not discussed in session by this deadline died on the calendar. The bills that were considered dealt with a wide range of topics.

House Concurrent Resolution 39 proposes an amendment to the Mississippi Constitution to create a new ballot initiative process. The former process was nullified in May 2021 by the Mississippi Supreme Court when it struck down Initiative 65, or the medical marijuana initiative. Under the new process, Mississippi voters could change current statutes or introduce new statutes by a ballot initiative. After several failed amendments, HC 39 passed 92-26 and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.

House Bill 1029 would create the Mississippi Broadband Accessibility Act. The act establishes the Mississippi Broadband Commission, which would coordinate all broadband expansion efforts in the state and administer all federal broadband expansion programs. The commission would be comprised of seven members: three appointed by the Governor and four appointed by the Lieutenant Governor, two of which being recommended by the Speaker of the House. Some of the funds in the bill come from the American Rescue Plan Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, both passed by Congress in 2021. House Bill 1029 passed by a vote of 111-6.

Several bills were introduced to the House that would also deal with federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. Some of the bills included one that would establish a grant program for rural water associations (House Bill 1421); a bill that would establish a grant program to assist in wastewater and drinking water infrastructure programs (House Bill 1425); and a bill that would provide a premium to law enforcement officers and firefighters across the state (House Bill 1427).

House Bill 884 would establish the Accelerate Mississippi Scholarship Program. These scholarships would be available to eligible students for dual-credit and dual-enrollment courses and career and technical education courses that lead to industry certification. The bill passed by a vote of 114-5 and will now go through the process in the Senate.

House Bill 592 would suspend child support payments for incarcerated individuals under certain conditions. The bill initially failed by a vote of 51-63, but after some amendments, it passed the House by a vote of 90-18.

House Bill 1196 would revise certain licensing requirements for barbers, nurses and social workers. Citizens with felonies who have paid their debt to society would now be eligible for a license in these respective fields. Before being held on a motion to reconsider, the bill passed the House by a vote of 106-9. That motion was then tabled later in the week.

House Bill 1510 was one of several bills dealing with the election process. Along with revising other provisions related to the integrity of elections, the bill would authorize the Secretary of State to audit local elections. After much discussion and several amendments, the bill passed 75-43.

House Bill 1487 would designate Mississippi country artist Steve Azar’s song “One Mississippi” as the official state song. Currently, the official state song is “Go Mississippi” by Houston Davis which was adopted by the Legislature in 1962. Azar wrote the song to commemorate the bicentennial of Mississippi in 2017. The bill passed by a vote of 95-12 and has been sent to the Senate.

Many bills passed the House with an overwhelming majority including a bill that would regulate the processing of sexual assault kits (House Bill 672); a bill authorizing the Mississippi Department of Corrections to offer hospice care services for terminally ill inmates (House Bill 936); a bill authorizing a leave of absence to Civil Air Patrol members for certain emergency services (House Bill 1179); two bills making changes to laws regarding campaign finance reports (House Bills 33 and 1476); and a bill that would require all school districts to offer a gifted education program for seventh and eighth graders (House Bill 1168).

The coming weeks will consist of floor discussion of House appropriations and other revenue bills. The deadline for these revenue bills to be sent to the Senate is Wednesday, Feb. 23. The House will then work on general Senate bills.

With the Dixie National Rodeo in Jackson this week, many visitors flocked to the Capitol. Miss Rodeo America Hailey Frederiksen of Colorado was presented with House Resolution 20, which congratulates her on her new title. Frederiksen was joined in the House by Miss Mississippi Holly Brand of Meridian and the new Miss Dixie National Lila Murphy of Jackson.

Other visitors at the Capitol this week included Alcorn State University; the Mississippi Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association; the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks; and the Mississippi Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

 

Week of January 31, 2022

The fifth week of the 2022 legislative session proved to be the busiest thus far. Committee meetings to discuss House bills wrapped up early in the week because of Tuesday’s general bills deadline. Members convened in the House Chamber for longer periods to discuss the legislation that made it to the calendar. The approximately 130 bills that were discussed dealt with a variety of topics.

House Bill 1313 would establish the Fostering Access and Inspiring True Hope (FAITH) Scholarship Program. This scholarship program would provide financial assistance for postsecondary education to all current and former foster children under age 26. The financial assistance includes full tuition, fees, and room and board. Before the bill was presented, Representative Jeff Hale (R – DeSoto) introduced Amendment 1 to name the program after Representative Bill Kinkade (R – Marshall), who grew up in the foster system. HB 1313 passed by a vote of 118-4.

House Concurrent Resolution 14 recognizes and honors Vietnam War Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange. During the introduction of the concurrent resolution, Amendment 1 was brought forth adding Representative Manly Barton (R – Jackson) and Representative Mac Huddleston (R – Pontotoc) to the language. Both Rep. Barton and Rep. Huddleston bravely served in the Vietnam War. HC 14 passed unanimously by a vote of 122-0 and has been sent to the Senate.

The Mississippi Health Care Workers Retention Act of 2022 (House Bill 764) was introduced on Wednesday. The bill would appropriate $56 million of the federal American Rescue Plan to the Mississippi Department of Health. These funds would be used to pay health care workers who directly treated COVID-19 up to $5,000 if they agree to stay at their current facility for five months. Mississippi, among other states, has seen massive health care worker shortages since the start of the pandemic. The bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 112-6.

House Bill 512 would remove the Department of Revenue from being the wholesale distributor of alcohol within the state and allow for wholesale permits to be issued to private companies. The Department of Revenue currently operates the Alcoholic Beverage Control warehouse in Gluckstadt. A similar bill was passed last session by the House, but it died in conference. HB 512 passed 113-2 and has been sent to the Senate.

The Second Amendment Preservation Act (House Bill 1418) would preempt any federal legislation seeking to ban firearms, ammunition and other supplies, excluding universities and colleges. After little debate, the bill passed by a vote of 83-35.

  1. Bill 621 would increase certain penalties for the crime of fleeing from law enforcement. Under current law, a person who is found guilty of operating a motor vehicle in a reckless or willfully dangerous manner and fleeing from law enforcement could receive up to five years in prison. HB 621 would increase this time to 10 years. A reverse repealer was added by amendment ensuring the bill will go to conference before the end of the legislative session. The bill passed by a vote of 84-34.

Many bills passed the House with overwhelming majority including a bill to create an interstate compact for audiology and speech-language pathology licenses (House Bill 424); the Sexual Assault Response for College Students Act (House Bill 589); two bills creating the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund (House Bills 606 and 1064); a bill prohibiting discrimination against a recipient of an organ donation based on disability (House Bill 20); two bills increasing salaries for Mississippi Highway Patrol and Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Officers (House Bills 1344 and 1422); a bill creating the Mississippi Healthy Food and Families Program (House Bill 555); and the College Sticker Price Act of 2022 (House Bill 464).

On Wednesday, the University of Mississippi women’s golf team paid a visit to the Capitol. The Legislature presented Senate Concurrent Resolution 527 commending the women for winning the NCAA National Championship 2021, the first national championship in a women’s sport at Ole Miss. SC 527 passed the House by a vote of 118-0.

Floor debate will continue on general bills until the Feb. 10 deadline. After that, discussion will move to appropriation and revenue bills, as well as bills originating in the Senate.

Visitors at the Capitol this week included the League of Women Voters, the Mississippi Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the Children’s Center for Communication and Development at the University of Southern Mississippi.

 

Week of January 24, 2022

Committees met frequently during the fourth week of the legislative session, as next Tuesday’s deadline to have House Bills out of their corresponding committees quickly approaches.

After Tuesday, Feb. 1, no additional general bills will be added to the House calendar for consideration. Members will also meet in session for longer periods to discuss the bills that make it out of their respective committees. Close to 200 House bills have made it out of committee thus far, and this number should increase before the deadline.  One of the bills that reached the House floor this week was House Bill 1509.  The bill would prohibit state and local officials from imposing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. After much debate, HB 1509 passed the House by a vote of 75-41. The bill was then held on a motion to reconsider.

House Bill 607, or Parker’s Law, would create the crime of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance that results in death. In the original bill, a person who sells a controlled substance that directly leads to the user’s death could be charged with first-degree murder. After the introduction of Parker’s Law, a debate ensued regarding controlled substances and the prevalence of fentanyl in these drug-related incidents. An amendment was brought forth changing all of the mentions of “controlled substances” to “fentanyl,” and Amendment 2 passed overwhelmingly by voice vote. HB 607 passed the House by a vote of 102-7 and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.

House Bill 169 would add athletic umpires and referees to the list of people for which the act of simple assault is elevated to aggravated assault. Under Mississippi law, simple assault carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $1,000 fine, while a person charged with aggravated assault could face a penalty of one to twenty years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. After many questions and debate, HB 169 was laid on the table subject to call and remains on the House calendar.

Many other bills were passed with topics including subpoenas, allowing organ donor indication on hunting and fishing licenses, the correctional system, county affairs and municipalities.

The conference report on Senate Bill 2095 (Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act) was adopted by both the House and Senate this week. The final version of the bill has been sent to Governor Tate Reeves where he can either sign or veto the bill.

The House honored Joe F. Sanderson, Jr., CEO and board chairman of Sanderson Farms, with House Resolution 9. The resolution commends Mr. Sanderson on his 75th birthday and highlights his successful leadership of his family’s company, as well as his philanthropic endeavors. Mr. Sanderson was joined by his wife, Kathy, during the HR presentation.

On Tuesday, Governor Tate Reeves delivered his third State of the State address before a Joint Session of the House and Senate. He discussed several topics important to Mississippians, including education, the economy, crime and the prison system.

Visitors at the Capitol this week included the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable, the Mississippi Chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the Junior League of Jackson and medical students from both University of Mississippi Medical Center and William Carey University.

 

Week of January 17, 2022

This is the third week of the 2022 Legislative Session. The deadline for introducing general bills and constitutional amendments was on Monday night, and committees will now begin discussing these bills in meetings. Although most work is still happening in committees, several pieces of legislation reached the House floor this week.

Senate Bill 2095, or the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act, was introduced to the House on Wednesday. The bill is a follow-up to Initiative 65, which was passed by Mississippi voters in November 2020 but was struck down by the Mississippi Supreme Court over a technicality in the ballot initiative process. SB 2095 outlines a medical marijuana program that will treat conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, ALS, Crohn’s Disease, glaucoma and seizures, to name a few. After a committee amendment was adopted by the House, the program will be overseen by the Department of Health, and eligible patients with a registry ID card will be able to purchase no more than six MCEUs (Medical Cannabis Equivalency Units) a week and no more than 28 MCEUs a month. Several House members introduced amendments to SB 2095, but all except the committee amendment failed. The final bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 105-14, and the bill has been returned to the Senate.

On Thursday, House Bill 770, or the Mississippi Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, was introduced to the House. The bill would require employers to pay employees the same amount for the same work done regardless of sex or gender. Equal pay is currently protected under federal law, but HB 770 would allow someone to file a suit in state court instead of going through the federal court. Mississippi is currently the only state without an equal pay law on the books. The bill passed overwhelmingly by 114-6 and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.

House Bill 813 would create the Mississippi Study on the Affordability of Insulin. Under the bill, the State Health Officer of the Department of Health would be required to conduct a study about the affordability of insulin for diabetes patients in the state and report the findings of the study to the Legislature by December 31, 2022. After adopting a committee amendment, the bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 113-5 and has been sent to the Senate.

The House passed House Concurrent Resolution 21 which authorizes a joint session of the Legislature next Tuesday evening to hear Governor Tate Reeves’s annual State of the State address. The address will take place on the south steps of the Capitol.

House Concurrent Resolution 8 also passed this week. HC 8 honors the Mississippi State Baseball team and congratulates them on winning the 2021 NCAA National Championship in June. The team is expected to visit the Capitol in a few weeks and will be presented with the concurrent resolution at that time.

Next week, committees will meet even more frequently as the Legislature approaches the next deadline. After Tuesday, Feb. 1, no additional bills will be added to the House calendar for consideration, and members will meet in session for longer periods to discuss the bills that have made it out of committees.

 

Week of January 10, 2022

This is the second week of the 2022 Legislative Session. Even though it is early in the session, two monumental pieces of legislation were passed out of committee and were debated on the House floor.

House Bill 530, or the Strategically Accelerating the Recruitment and Retention of Teachers (START) Act of 2022, was introduced to the House on Wednesday. The START Act would raise the average starting salary of a Mississippi teacher to $43,000 – a $6,000 increase. This would make the average starting salary of teachers higher than both the national and southeastern averages. It would also give every teacher a pay raise between $4,000 and $6,000, effective at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, and give teacher’s assistants a salary bump of $2,000. The bill passed with a bipartisan vote of 114-6, and it has been sent to the Senate for consideration.

The Mississippi Tax Freedom Act of 2022 (House Bill 531) was also introduced on Wednesday. It is similar to last year’s proposal but has some key differences. The bill would eliminate the state income tax, becoming the tenth state in the United States to do so. It would also raise sales tax from 7% to 8.5%, lower grocery tax from 7% to 4%, and cut car tag prices by 50%. HB 531 passed by a vote of 97-12.

The deadline for the introduction of general bills and constitutional amendments is Monday, January 17, so many committees are waiting until all bills are filed to hold meetings. Floor action will pick up next week as bills are brought out of committee. Bills must be passed out of committee before they are considered by the House.

 

Week of January 3, 2022

On January 4, 2022, the Mississippi State Legislature began the third session in its four-year term. Though it is early in the session, there were a few items taken up and passed on the House floor.

House Bill 384 was introduced on Thursday morning. The bill contains the new Magnolia 1 Plan for congressional redistricting as proposed by the Joint Redistricting Committee. The plan would most notably extend Congressman Bennie Thompson’s District 2 into Adams, Amite, Franklin, and Wilkinson Counties in the southwest corner of the state. Representative Robert Johnson (D-Natchez), the House Democratic Caucus Leader, introduced Amendment 1 to HB 384, which proposed a different plan giving District 2 all of Hinds County and a portion of Madison County, while leaving the southwest four counties in District 3. After much debate, the amendment was defeated 43-76, and HB 384 passed by a vote of 75-44 with the Magnolia 1 plan.

House Bill 1413, the 2021 appropriations bill for the Mississippi Department of Transportation, was reintroduced on Wednesday after receiving a partial veto from Governor Tate Reeves. It has been re-referred to committee.

The House has added a new member to its roster since the 2021 Legislative Session as the result of a special election. Representative Robert Sanders (D-Cleveland) fills the seat left open by former Representative Abe Hudson, who resigned in August.

Next Wednesday, January 12, is the deadline to request legislation, and Monday, January 17, is the deadline for filing bills. More than 500 House bills have already been filed and referred to committees.

For the first time since March 2020, junior pages have returned to the House of Representatives. Pages are junior high and high school students from around the state who are sponsored by House members and staff.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022.  Session Begins at Noon.