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 in the 2022 session: Bills introduced by Rep. Gene Newman
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.
UPDATES from the 2023 Session:
Week of March 13, 2023
This was the eleventh week of the 2023 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 committees, representatives and senators work together to finalize the details of each bill before they are sent to the governor. 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 bills were passed concurring with changes made in the Senate, including House Bill 1222, or the Mississippi Collaborative Response to Mental Health Act. The bill would require each municipality and county law enforcement agency to provide mental health training to all officers by 2031. There is also a requirement that these law enforcement agencies must employ at least one Crisis Intervention Team Officer by the year 2025. The House concurred with the changes made in the Senate, and it passed unanimously 114-0. It has been sent to the governor for his signature.
On Thursday, the House was privileged to honor James Anderson of Holmes County with House Resolution 121. Mr. Anderson is a World War II veteran who will celebrate his 100th birthday in September. He was joined by family, friends and the House Military Affairs Committee as Representative Bryant Clark (D – Pickens) presented the resolution.
House Resolution 38 was presented on Tuesday to the Southern District Transportation Commissioner and former House member Tom King. HR 38 commends Commissioner King on his 31 years of public service and congratulates him upon his retirement. He was joined by his family members as Representative Missy McGee (R - Hattiesburg) presented him with the resolution.
On Monday, Governor Tate Reeves signed House Bill 1027 into law, which designates the blueberry as the official state fruit. After learning that Mississippi did not have a state fruit in a civics lesson, a fourth-grade class at Mannsdale Upper Elementary School in Madison contacted Representative Jill Ford (R – Madison). The students were able to see the bill-making process from beginning to end, coming to the Capitol several times this session, including on Monday for the bill signing.
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 March 6, 2023
This was the tenth week of the 2023 Legislative Session. Wednesday was the deadline for the House to discuss general Senate bills. Any Senate bills that did not make it off the calendar and before the House died. The deadline to discuss Senate appropriations and revenue bills will occur next Tuesday, March 14.
Senate Bill 2212 would extend postpartum Medicaid coverage for new mothers from 60 days to a full year. Proponents of the bill said that the extension would improve Mississippi’s infant and maternal mortality rates, currently some of the highest in the United States. Opponents argued that the bill could open the door for a full expansion of Medicaid. The bill passed by a vote of 92-27 and has been returned to the Senate. Governor Tate Reeves has indicated that he would sign postpartum Medicaid expansion into law should the Legislature pass it.
A ballot initiative process could be restored under Senate Concurrent Resolution 533. Unlike the former process, SCR 533 would allow for statutory changes, or changes to the law, rather than an amendment to the constitution. A House amendment was adopted lowering the threshold of signatures needed from 12 percent of registered voters to 12 percent of the number of voters in the last gubernatorial election. The former ballot initiative process was deemed invalid by the Mississippi Supreme Court in 2021 based on the technicality that the number of Congressional districts had gone from five to four, and the language was not updated in the initiative process. SCR 533 passed 77-9 with many members voting present. The concurrent resolution will go to conference for further revisions before the session is over.
Other Senate bills that passed the House included a bill to ban ballot harvesting (SB 2358), a bill to allow armed educators in schools (SB 2079), a bill to create a Public Funds Offender Registry (SB 2420), a bill to revise the boundary lines of the Capitol Complex Improvement District (SB 2343), a bill that would revise the penalty for motor vehicle theft (SB 2099) and the Mississippi Regional Pre-Need Disaster Clean Up Act (SB 2538).
On Thursday, the House took up the Senate’s half of the state budget, which includes the Departments of Finance and Administration, Banking and Consumer Finance, Revenue, Mental Health, Corrections and Public Safety. These are all preliminary budgets, and the bills include reverse repealers, a clause that will send the bill to conference to be discussed further. Many of these bills were taken up in a block to speed up the process.
Several local and private bills were also taken up this week. These bills dealt with a variety of topics such as authorizing certain cities and counties to make various contributions to local organizations and extending repealers on certain cities’ tourism taxes. The deadline for the House to introduce these local and private revenue bills is Friday, March 17. Local and private bills that are not deemed revenue bills have until Friday, March 24 to be introduced.
The calendar also included several House bills that were passed earlier in the session, sent to the Senate and are now back before the House. With this process, the representatives will vote on whether to agree with the changes the Senate made, or to invite conference for possible further revisions before becoming law or dying.
On Tuesday, the House honored Forest native Constance Slaughter-Harvey with House Resolution 37. The resolution commends Ms. Slaughter-Harvey on her impressive civil rights activism and legal career in the State of Mississippi. Among her many accomplishments, she was the first African American female to graduate from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1970. Ms. Slaughter-Harvey was presented with HR 37 by Representative Tom Miles (D – Forest) and Representative Earle Banks (D – Jackson).
Other visitors at the Capitol this week included the SWAC Champion football, soccer and track teams of Jackson State University; Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.; the Mississippi Library Association; the Mississippi Arts Commission; Miss Biloxi Katelyn Perry; and Leadership Madison County.
Week of February 27, 2023
This was the ninth week of the 2023 Legislative Session. The deadline for House committees to report general bills originating from the Senate occurred Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. Any Senate bills that did not make it out of committee died. Members worked on these Senate bills on the House floor, and the deadline for these bills to be passed is next Wednesday, March 8.
Senate Bill 2781 would create the Mississippi Access to Maternal Assistance Program under the Department of Health, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Child Protective Services and the Division of Medicaid. The program would provide information and services related to pregnancy, childbirth and childcare for expectant mothers and new parents. The House passed the bill by a vote of 113-4 and has been returned to the Senate.
Senate Bill 2323 would allow for consolidation and collaboration among community hospitals around the state. The bill passed initially with little debate by a vote of 107-2, but several members asked for unanimous consent to change their vote on the bill, making the final tally 90-22. SB 2323 has been returned to the Senate for concurrence or to invite conference.
Contract workers employed by the State of Mississippi would be allowed to purchase the base plan of the State and School Employees’ Health Insurance Plan under Senate Bill 2615. The worker must pay full price of the plan without contribution from their employer, and employers must offer this to any state contract worker who works at least 130 hours per month. SB 2615 passed the House 88-17.
Senate Bill 2623 would create the Mississippi State and School Employees’ Life and Health Insurance Plan Task Force to study the current insurance plans and make recommendations about possible changes. The bill passed 110-6 and has been returned to the Senate.
Senate Bill 2700 would provide homestead exemption for unremarried surviving spouses of military members killed on active duty or training. SB 2700 passed unanimously by a vote of 117-4.
The Mississippi Vulnerable Persons Abuse Registry would be created under Senate Bill 2652. The bill is the Senate equivalent to House Bill 1392, which passed unanimously earlier in the session. SB 2652 passed by a vote of 118-1.
Senate Bill 2140, or the National Security on State Devices and Networks Act, would regulate what could be downloaded to a state-issued device. This includes any information technology that could pose a security risk to the United States and/or the State of Mississippi. The bill passed 117-2.
Several bills from the Local and Private committee were also taken up this week. The bills mostly dealt with tourism taxes in municipalities and counties across the state.
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. There are more than 60 Senate bills remaining on the House calendar that must be dealt with by next Wednesday.
Visitors this week included the American Red Cross; the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks; Mississippi Delta Community College; the Mississippi Main Street Association; fourth graders from Mannsdale Upper Elementary School; the National Champion Northwest Rankin High School Cheer Squad; and the 3A State Champion Raleigh High School Football Team.
Week of February 20, 2023
This was the eighth week of the 2023 Legislative Session. Wednesday, Feb. 22 marked the deadline for original floor action on House appropriations and revenue bills. While most of these bills were taken up last week, a few were discussed before Wednesday’s deadline.
House Bill 1671 would provide tax credits for businesses and individuals for making contributions to crisis pregnancy centers. After two amendments were tabled that would expand postpartum Medicaid coverage and increase TANF benefits, a motion to the previous question was made, thus ending debate on the bill. The bill passed 104-9 and has been sent to the Senate.
House Bill 1721 would appropriate funding to the Department of Health to provide funding to Mississippi Baptist Medical Center in Jackson to establish a burn center. Before being amended, the bill originally appropriated funds to the University of Mississippi Medical Center for a burn unit. HB 1721 passed the House 102-11 and has been transmitted to the Senate.
Two bills would appropriate funds to the University of Mississippi Medical Center. House Bill 1720 would give funding to the medical center for the renovation of the psychiatric program facility, and House Bill 1722 would give funding for the repair and renovation of the School of Dentistry. Both bills passed the House by votes of 113-5 and have been sent to the Senate for consideration.
House Bill 1715 would appropriate funds to the Department of Health to fund the ARPA Rural Water Associations Infrastructure Grant Program. House Bill 1716 would appropriate funds to the Department of Environmental Quality to fund the Mississippi Municipality and County Water Infrastructure Grant Program. Both bills passed the House overwhelmingly.
House Bill 1702 would exempt sales of books at the Mississippi Book Festival from sales tax. Known as the “Literary Lawn Party”, the Book Festival is held every year in August inside the Capitol and on the Capitol grounds. Independent booksellers and authors from across the state sell books during the festival. HB 1702 passed unanimously by a vote of 117-0.
Committees also began to meet again this week to discuss general bills originating in the Senate. Before the deadline on Tuesday, Feb. 28, Senate bills will come out of House committees and onto the House floor for discussion. While the deadline to pass these Senate general bills on the floor is a few weeks away, more than 30 Senate bills were discussed this week.
Several bills regarding elections were introduced this week. Senate Bill 2352 would penalize any person who fraudulently requests or submits an absentee ballot. SB 2352 passed the House 81-36, and it has been returned to the Senate. Senate Bill 2353 would increase the wages for poll managers and workers. SB 2353 passed by a vote of 113-5 and has been returned to the Senate. Senate Bill 2358 would ban certain instances of ballot harvesting, a practice in which a person other than the voter turns in an absentee ballot. The bill would authorize election officials, U.S. Postal workers and family members or caregivers to deliver these absentee ballots. After much discussion, the bill was laid on the table subject to call.
Two segments of highways would be named in memory of outstanding Mississippians under Senate Bill 2002. A portion of Highway 45 in Lowndes County would be named “PFC Bradford C. Freeman Memorial Highway,” in memory of deceased World War II veteran Bradford Freeman of Caledonia. Freeman, who passed away in July 2022, was the last surviving member of the paratroop company featured in the best-selling book and subsequent mini-series Band of Brothers. A section of Interstate 220 North in Hinds County would be designated as the “Senator Douglas Anderson Memorial Highway” in memory of former legislator Douglas Anderson who passed away in 2013. Senator Anderson served in the Legislature from 1976 to 1993.
Senate Bill 2562 would allow public and private partnerships to establish electric vehicle charging stations and would allow the Mississippi Transportation Commission to provide grants to companies that provide electric vehicle charging stations. The bill is the Senate equivalent of House Bill 986, which was passed earlier this session. SB 2562 passed by a vote of 110-6.
Senate Bill 2569 would allow and regulate autonomous vehicles in the state. The bill is similar to House Bill 1003, or the MS FAVE Act of 2023. SB 2569 passed by a vote of 115-1.
Senate Bill 2853 would prohibit the state from purchasing drones made in China and would require that small, unmanned aircrafts only be purchased and serviced from American companies. SB 2853 passed the House by a vote of 109-0, and it has been returned to the Senate.
Senate Bill 2433 would exempt eligible homeowner associations from regulation of public utilities if the neighborhood has access to a well and can provide its own water to residents. The bill passed by a vote of 76-36 before being held on a motion to reconsider.
The House was visited this week by Alcorn State University for their annual Purple and Gold Capitol Day. Other visitors to the Capitol included the Council of State Governments, school groups from across the state, UMMC’s Child Health and Development Project Fellows and the University of Mississippi wind ensemble.
Week of February 13, 2023
This was the seventh week of the 2023 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 Insurance, Transportation, Medicaid, Health, Education 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 at a later point in the session.
Budget bills include reverse repealers, a clause that 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 final until the conference deadline of Saturday, March 25.
The House Ways and Means committee took up a bill on the House floor this week. House Bill 1648 would increase the amount of tax credits that can be allocated under the Mississippi Small Business Investment Company Act. The bill passed by a vote of 112-6.
Several bills from the Local and Private committee were also taken up this week. The bills mostly dealt with extending the repeal dates for tourism taxes in municipalities across the state.
The deadline for original floor action on House appropriations and revenue bills is next Wednesday, Feb. 22. After that, House committees will begin considering general bills which passed through the Senate.
The House welcomed a new member who won a special election in January. Representative Perry Bailey (District 23) was sworn in before the start of session by Speaker Philip Gunn. District 23 was left open in September when former House member Jim Beckett was appointed by Governor Tate Reeves to executive director of Public Utilities Staff. The seat for House District 72 remains vacant at this time.
On Tuesday, the House presented Ambassador Javlon Vakhabov from Uzbekistan with House Resolution 70. The resolution honors the successful 10-year partnership between the Mississippi National Guard and the Republic of Uzbekistan.
The House was also visited by Mississippi Valley State University this week for their annual Green and White Capitol Day. Dr. Jerryl Briggs, Sr., President of MVSU, and SGA President Keyjuan Meeks both gave remarks about the university and its progress.
Week of February 6, 2023
This was the sixth week of the 2023 Legislative Session, and it proved to be the busiest thus far. The House met as a whole throughout the week to discuss bills that made it out of committee and onto the calendar. Thursday, Feb. 9 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 almost 150 bills that were considered dealt with a wide range of topics.
The most debated bill this week was House Bill 1020. The bill would create inferior courts in the Capitol Complex Improvement District, a portion of the city of Jackson, to hear criminal and civil cases within the CCID. The chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court would appoint two judges to this new district, the attorney general would appoint four prosecutors, the state defender would appoint public defenders, and various other court staff would be appointed as well. Proponents of the bill said that the bill would help with the current backlog in the court system due to crime in Jackson. Opponents argued that the CCID is located in majority-white neighborhoods in a majority-black city and that the appointments of the court officials would strip Jacksonians of their right to elect judges and prosecutors. After almost five hours of debate, the bill passed with a vote of 76-37 before being held on a motion to reconsider. That motion was tabled the next day by a vote of 76-37, and HB 1020 has been sent to the Senate for consideration.
After causing some debate and being laid on the table subject to call earlier in the session, House Bill 370 came back before the House on Thursday. The bill would have authorized a removal process of municipal elected officials using the same process of removal of county elected officers. The bill failed by a vote of 54-60.
House Bill 1276 would provide for a runoff election for state officials if no candidate receives a majority of the votes. The runoff would be held three weeks after the general election. HB 1276 passed by a vote of 75-39.
House Bill 698 would require equity-based billing on municipal water, wastewater and sewer services. The bill comes after a suggestion that the city of Jackson change to a billing system based on property values instead of water usage. The bill passed by a vote of 83-26 and will now be considered by the Senate.
Penalties for fleeing law enforcement would increase under House Bill 402. The bill comes after several accidents across the state that occurred were caused by police pursuit of a suspect. HB 402 passed by a vote of 85-31.
House Bill 1317 would have authorized pharmacists to test for minor, nonchronic health conditions and administer treatment for those conditions. The conditions included influenza, COVID-19, lice, and skin conditions like ringworm and athlete’s foot. Proponents of the bill said that this would alleviate long waiting room times at a doctor’s office and that pharmacists are knowledgeable about diseases and medicines after going to pharmacy school for four years. Opponents argued that doctors are specifically trained in diagnosing and treating conditions. HB 1317 was tabled, therefore it died on the calendar.
House Bill 1070 would create the Patriotic Education Grant Program under the Department of Education. The program would encourage school districts to teach American history outside of regular school requirements. School districts would be able to apply for grants for activities like after-school clubs, field trips and guest speakers. HB 1070 passed with a vote of 110-6 and will now go to the Senate.
House Bill 1490 would require the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks to suspend hunting licenses for people who fail to pay child support. The bill passed 81-29 and has been sent to the Senate.
House Bill 723 would establish the Mississippi Transit Corporation and create a study committee to make recommendations for bus, rail and light rail services in Mississippi. The bill passed with bipartisan support by a vote of 109-7.
Two bills would give Mississippi an official gemstone and an official fruit. House Bill 772 would designate the Mississippi Opal as the official state gemstone. Opal is the only gem found thus far to be naturally occurring in the state. HB 772 passed unanimously and has been sent to the Senate. House Bill 1027 would make the blueberry the official state fruit of Mississippi. Fourth graders from Mannsdale Elementary School in Madison conducted research and discovered that the blueberry is the most grown and sold fruit within the state. The students contacted Representative Jill Ford (R – Madison) who introduced the bill on their behalf. HB 1027 passed by a vote of 110-1 and will now go to the Senate for consideration.
House Bill 264 would extend the repealer on the statute requiring certain buildings to meet energy efficiency standards. The bill was introduced by Representative Andy Boyd (R – Columbus) marking his first time presenting a bill from the well. HB 264 passed by a vote of 117-2.
Several bills that passed overwhelmingly with little debate included the following: the Department of Public Safety would be authorized to issue state identification cards to homeless individuals (House Bill 368); language in the Mississippi Code regarding rape would be updated, and spousal exception of rape would be removed (House Bill 995); a domestic abuse court program would be established (House Bill 170); and the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks would be allowed to issue a hunting license to a person whose parents was born in Mississippi and on active duty military service at the time of the applicant’s birth (House Bill 49).
The coming weeks will consist of floor discussion of House appropriations and other revenue bills. The deadline for these types of bills to be sent to the Senate is Wednesday, Feb. 22. The House will then begin work on general originating in the Senate.
Visitors to the House this week included the Mississippi Film Office; Miss Rodeo America Kennadee Diggs, Miss Rodeo Mississippi Jacqueline Ervin and Miss Dixie National Wren Algee; students and teachers from Barack Obama Magnet School; leaders from Mississippi 4-H; Miss Mississippi Emmie Perkins of Hattiesburg; Crusaders for Veterans; Teen Pact; and the Mississippi Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.
Week of January 30, 2023
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. More than 100 bills were discussed, and they included a wide variety of topics.
The most debated bill this week was House Bill 1168. The bill would alter the allocations of the one percent sales tax in Jackson so that funds go directly to repairing the water system. Currently, this revenue goes to water, sewer, roads and bridges. The tax generates approximately $15 million annually. Proponents of the bill said that the water system is in dire need of repair and this influx of cash would help. The opposition argued that $600 million is already coming from the federal government’s infrastructure plan, and the roads and bridges in Jackson will suffer from the lack of funding. After more than an hour of debate and two failed amendments, HB 1168 passed 76-41 before being held on a motion to reconsider.
Several education bills were passed this week. House Bill 1365 would ensure that assistant teachers receive their pay raises from last year, as well as a new salary minimum of $20,000. House Bill 1369 would adjust the funding formula of MAEP from being based on average student attendance to student enrollment. House Bill 1373, or the “Released-Time Moral Instruction Act of 2023,” would allow school boards to permit students who wish to participate in religious activities during the school day be excused with parental consent. These activities would not take place on school premises, but it would allow parents to take a child to a religious activity one hour a week without repercussions.
House Bill 989 would remove Child Protection Services from the Department of Human Services and make it a separate agency. CPS was established by the legislature in 2016 and was made a subagency of MDHS. The bill passed by a vote of 102-9 and has been sent to the Senate.
House Bill 1167 would revise the residential builder and remodeler license examination requirements for certain applicants. Currently, builders must pass an exam to obtain a license. This would provide an alternative pathway by removing the exam requirement if the applicant has been working for over five years and has three letters of recommendation. The bill passed by a unanimous vote of 110-0.
One bill that failed this week was House Bill 1375. The bill would require that an annexed area of a municipality receive services within three years of the annexation decree. If the services are not met after three years, the annexation would be deemed null and void. The bill required a three-fifths majority to pass and only received a vote of 62-45. It is now being held on a motion to reconsider.
House Bill 1392 would require the Department of Human Services to establish and maintain the Mississippi Vulnerable Persons Abuse Registry. The bill passed as amended by a vote of 113-0.
House Bill 384 would allow local authorities to permit package retail sales on Sundays from 1-6 p.m. This would only apply to wet counties and municipalities under the Local Option Beverage Control Law. HB 384 passed with a vote of 72-39 and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.
The Retailer Tax Fairness Act, or House Bill 735, would give store owners a tax break by not collecting state and local taxes on the 2.5% interchange fee owed to banks and credit card companies when a customer uses a credit card. The bill passed by a vote of 109-2, and it has been sent to the Senate for consideration.
House Bill 1318 would revise provisions related to baby drop-off and safe haven laws. The maximum age of the infant would be changed to 90 days, and municipalities and counties would be able to sponsor a baby safety device, or “baby box,” for anonymous drop-off. The bill passed unanimously by a vote of 111-0 before being held on a motion to reconsider.
House Bill 1315 would regulate pornographic media exposure to minors by requiring commercial entities to conduct age verification of the consumer. The bill is similar to one passed in the Louisiana Legislature earlier this year. HB 1315 passed with a vote of 111-2.
House Bill 1371 would make it a felony for therapists to have sexual contact with current patients or former patients after up to twelve months of receiving services. The bill caused some debate with opponents arguing that some of the relationships could be consensual. Proponents of the bill countered that this bill was trying to prevent abuse of power by a person rendering services. The bill passed by a vote of 62-47 before being held on a motion to reconsider.
Several bills were passed unanimously with little debate: the Department of Revenue would be authorized to issue electronic titles and liens for motor vehicles and manufactured homes (House Bill 1170); state agencies would have to give preference to Mississippi-made drones, and drones made in China would be prohibited (House Bill 1293); Mississippi would enter into an occupational therapy license compact with several other states for license reciprocity in member states (House Bill 478); and veterans will now be included in provisions under occupational licensing when relating to military members (House Bill 1039).
Floor debate will continue on general bills until the Feb. 9 deadline. After that, discussion will move to appropriations and revenue bills, as well as bills originating in the Senate.
On Tuesday, Representative Alyce Clarke (D – Jackson) asked for a point of personal privilege to speak to the House. From the well, she announced that after almost 38 years of service, she will not be seeking re-election this November. Representative Clarke, who was first elected in March 1985, was the first African American woman to serve in the Mississippi Legislature.
Week of January 23, 2023
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, Jan. 31, 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. More than 150 general bills have made it out of committee thus far, and this number should increase before the deadline.
House Bill 1029 would provide that reference to the “Armed Forces” or “Uniformed Services” in the Mississippi Code will also include the United States Space Force. HB 1029 was introduced by Representative Jeffrey Hulum, III (D – Gulfport), marking his first time at the well to present a bill. The bill passed unanimously and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.
House Bill 626 would authorize county boards of supervisors to expend certain funds in the last six months of their term in office if the county has a project funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to meet the federal spending deadline in 2026. The bill passed 107-5 before being held on a motion to reconsider.
The Mississippi Regional Preneed Disaster Clean Up Act (House Bill 858) would authorize county boards or governing bodies of municipalities to enter into joint bid agreements for disaster clean-up to prepare for disaster-related events. The bill passed 114-5.
Several appropriations bills were passed including House Bill 603 and House Bill 1088 which are both related to the state budget. This was done so that work can begin on the budget which will be finalized towards the end of session.
House Concurrent Resolution 10 was introduced and passed on Wednesday. The concurrent resolution honors the late Representative Noal Akins who passed away in October. He served in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 2004 to 2012. Representative Akins is the father of Senator Nicole Akins Boyd (R – Oxford).
The House passed House Concurrent Resolution 31 which authorizes a joint session of the Legislature to next Monday 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, or in the case of inclement weather, in the House Chamber.
Week of January 16, 2023
This is the third week of the 2023 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.
House Bill 1125, or the Regulate Experimental Adolescent Procedures (REAP) Act, would regulate transgender procedures and surgeries on children under 18. The bill does not apply to individuals born intersex. Proponents of the bill said that this would prevent children from making permanent decisions they could regret later, while opponents argued that this was a step back for transgender rights. After lengthy debate, the bill passed by a vote of 78-28 and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.
Other bills discussed this week include a bill that would exclude fentanyl testing materials from definition of “paraphernalia” under controlled substances (HB 722); a bill that would decrease the minimum number of years of law enforcement experience required to be a conservation officer (HB 516); a bill that would authorize the Department of Finance and Administration to purchase the old First Christian Church building in the Capitol Complex Improvement District (HB 423); and a bill that would designate the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Central Office as the Sam G. Polles State Office Building (HB 366).
On Thursday, the House was visited by the Louisville High School Football Team. Coach Tyrone Shorter and the team were honored with House Resolution 16, which commends them upon winning the 2022 MHSAA Class 4A State Championship.
Next week, committees will meet even more frequently as the Legislature approaches the next deadline. After Tuesday, Jan. 31, 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 9, 2023
This is the second week of the 2023 Legislative Session. Even though it is early in the session, there were several bills discussed on the House floor.
One bill that caused some debate was House Bill 370. The bill would authorize the removal of municipal elected officials using the same process of removal of county elected officers. Currently, elected officials of municipalities are the only elected officials in the state not subject to a removal process under state law. To remove a municipal official under HB 370, 30 percent of eligible voters would sign a petition that would then be sent to the governor. The governor would then appoint a panel of three judges to determine the validity of the petition. If granted, an election would be held for voters to decide on removal. Proponents of HB 370 stated that it is another form of checks and balances on municipal officials that all other elected officials in the state are subject to. Opponents argued that 30 percent of voters is not a majority, and elections every four years are the way to hold officials accountable. The bill was laid on the table subject to call.
House Bill 266 would name the Department of Public Safety Headquarters office in honor of the late Commissioner David R. Huggins, who also served as chief of the Mississippi Highway Patrol. During the floor action on the bill, Amendment 1 was introduced naming the Mississippi Forensics Laboratory in Pearl after Representative Tom Weathersby (R – Florence). The bill passed as amended by a unanimous vote of 116-0, and Representative Weathersby received a standing ovation from his fellow House members.
Two bills from the Ways and Means Committee were introduced on Thursday: House Bill 390 and House Bill 401. HB 390 would revise certain provisions regarding the historic property income tax credit. HB 401 would revise provisions in the Mississippi Motor Vehicle Commission Law relating to a manufacturer’s ownership of a motor vehicle dealership. Both bills passed the House by a large majority.
The deadline for the introduction of general bills and constitutional amendments is Monday, January 16, 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 2, 2023
On January 3, 2023, the Mississippi State Legislature began the fourth and final session in its four-year term. Though it is early in the session, there were three resolutions taken up on the House floor. These resolutions honored Mississippians who have made a positive impact on their communities.
On Wednesday, the Capitol was visited by Chapel Hart, the country music trio originally from Poplarville. House Resolution 2 honors the singing group for their many accomplishments and positive representation of Mississippi. After being recognized in the House and Senate, the members of Chapel Hart, sisters Danica and Devynn Hart and first cousin Trea Swindle, performed several songs for legislators, staffers and visitors in the Capitol rotunda. Chapel Hart first made waves in 2022 for receiving a “Group Golden Buzzer” during their audition on America’s Got Talent. The group has since performed at the Grand Ole Opry and is about to embark on a sixty-show nationwide tour.
House Resolution 1 congratulates the Jackson Preparatory School Varsity Baseball team on their fifth-consecutive 6A MAIS State Championship. The players and coaches were recognized in the gallery on Wednesday morning.
Also on Wednesday, the House recognized Reverend Dr. Lisa Allen-McLaurin with House Resolution 3. Reverend Dr. Allen-McLaurin has recently been named the music scholar-in-residence and interim choral director at the American Church in Paris, France. The Jackson native is an Emmy and Webby award-winning pastor who serves as the Coordinator of Practical Ministries for the Sixth Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church as well as other roles at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta.
The House has added members to its roster since the 2022 Legislative Session as the result of special elections. Jeffery Hulum, III (D – Gulfport) is the new representative for District 119 replacing Representative Sonya Williams-Barnes who resigned in March 2022. Andy Boyd (R – Columbus) fills the District 37 seat following the passing of Representative Lynn Wright in June. There are still two vacancies in the House (Districts 23 and 72), which will be filled after special elections in the coming weeks.
Next Wednesday, January 11, is the deadline to request legislation, and Monday, January 16, is the deadline for filing general bills. More than 200 House bills have already been filed and referred to committees.
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.
- 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.