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.
2024 Mississippi Legislative Session
Week of February 12, 2024
This was the seventh week of the 2024 Legislative Session. Members worked throughout the week dropping bills and meeting in committee. After Monday, February 19, no new general bills or constitutional amendments can be introduced. More than 1,200 House bills have been filed already. Despite how early it is in session, committees continued to meet, and several bills were introduced before the whole House.
House Bill 286 would remove the statute of limitations on sexual battery if DNA evidence is discovered. Currently, the statute of limitations for sexual battery is two years. The bill passed with little debate by a vote of 121-0 before being held on a motion to reconsider.
Two bills that would add celebrations to our state calendar were introduced. House Bill 124 would designate the fourth Thursday in March as “Tuskegee Airmen Day.” While it would not be a legal state holiday, the day would honor and recognize the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. HB 124 passed the House unanimously and has been sent to the Senate. House Bill 365 would designate the month of March as “Mississippi Musicians Month.” The bill passed 118-0.
Three Representatives presented bills for the first time before the House. Representative Jimmy Fondren (R – Pascagoula) presented House Bill 526, which would allow hunters to wear fluorescent pink as an alternative to orange. The bill passed 110-4. Representative Rodney Hall (R – Southaven) presented House Bill 80, or the Zeb Hughes Law, which would create a presumption of death for missing persons who have undergone a catastrophic event. Hughes, for whom the bill is named, and Gunner Palmer were two young men from Copiah County who went missing in December 2020 after scouting duck hunting locations on the Mississippi River. HB 80 passed unanimously 121-0. Representative Zachary Grady (R – D’Iberville) presented House Bill 1004, which would revise definitions for the provisions of law that regulate the sex offender registry. The bill passed unanimously 119-0.
On Tuesday, former Representative Alyce G. Clarke of Jackson was honored by the House of Representatives and other community leaders with the hanging of her portrait in the House Education Committee Room. Ms. Clarke was the first African American woman elected to the Mississippi Legislature. During her 38 years in the House, she implemented the federal WIC food program, established drug courts, organized school breakfasts and championed the state lottery system. She is the first woman and first African American to have a portrait in the State Capitol.
On Thursday, the House honored the Louisville High School Football team for winning the 2023 MHSAA Class 4A State Championship. Representative Carl Mickens (D – Brooksville) presented Coach Tyrone Shorter with House Resolution 29, which congratulated the team on its accomplishment.
Other visitors this week included Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Alcorn State University Purple and Gold Day, Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable, Mississippi State Medical Association, Mississippi Association of Physicians Assistants, Mississippi Psychiatric Association, DeSoto County Economic Development Council and Mississippi Public Broadcasting.
Week of February 5, 2024
This was the sixth week of the 2024 Legislative Session. House members had a busy week full of committee meetings. The deadline for the introduction of general bills and constitutional amendments is Monday, February 19, so members will remain busy over the next few weeks deciding which drafted bills will make it onto the House floor. This week, several bills were brought out of committee ahead of the deadline.
The Mississippi Prior Authorization Reform Act, or Senate Bill 2140, would regulate how insurance companies can use prior authorization, which is when a doctor or provider must check with a patient’s insurance to see if certain non-emergent medications or procedures are covered. The bill would require insurance companies to create a web portal for doctors to submit prior authorization applications. SB 2140 passed by a vote of 115-0 and has been returned to the Senate for concurrence.
House Bill 777 would end the alcohol prohibition as state policy and would automatically legalize the sale of wine and spirits in municipalities with less than 5,000 residents. Currently, cities with more than 5,000 residents in “dry” counties can vote to become a “wet” city. HB 777 would allow these smaller municipalities to opt back into being dry if they place a referendum on their local ballot. The bill passed by a vote of 93-21 and has been sent to the Senate.
House Bill 331 would authorize counties and municipalities to choose not to require construction permits. Proponents of the bill said this would cut down on red tape and give more freedom to residents. Opponents argued that these permits are safeguards that guarantee that the construction work is done correctly. The bill passed 82-29 and will now go to the Senate.
House Bill 970 would extend the date of repealers on the services and managed care provisions of the Mississippi Division of Medicaid. This bill is usually referred to as the “Medicaid Tech” bill, and it outlines the framework for the Division of Medicaid. HB 970 passed by a unanimous vote of 119-0 and has been sent to the Senate.
The House also adopted House Concurrent Resolution 26, which is the Joint Rules for the Legislature. These rules are updated every four years at the start of a new term contain the procedures the Legislature must follow. After adopting Amendment 2, HCR 26 passed 118-0.
Two Representatives presented bills for the first time before the House. Representative Elliot Burch (R – Leakesville) presented House Bill 295, which would authorize the use of electronic search warrant applications and signatures. The bill passed 83-35 before being held on a motion to reconsider. Representative Celeste Hurst (R – Sandhill) presented House Bill 634, which would allow an employing agency to determine the amount to be paid for a sidearm of a retired or deceased law enforcement officer. HB 295 passed 117-1 and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.
With the Dixie National Rodeo in the Jackson area next week, Miss Rodeo America 2024 Emma Cameron and Miss Dixie National 2024 Emma Watts were recognized by the House for their accomplishments.
Visitors this week included the Mississippi Arts Commission, Leadership Jones County, the Mississippi Court Reporters Association, Mississippi 4-H Officers and Ambassadors, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Mississippi Academy of Family Physicians.
Week of January 29, 2024
This was the fifth week of the 2024 Legislative Session. Because it is early in the session, committees are just starting to meet as bills are still being drafted, so floor action has been light. Bills must be passed out of committee before they are considered by the entire House. The deadline for bill introduction is Monday, February 19, and the deadline for bills to be out of committee is Tuesday, March 5. Despite most work still happening in committees, two bills reached the House floor.
House Bill 539 would allow presumptive eligibility for prenatal care under Medicaid for pregnant women whose household incomes are 194% below the federal poverty line. These women could receive care for 60 days while the Mississippi Division of Medicaid is reviewing their applications. A qualified provider (e.g., the Health Department, a doctor trained in the process, etc.) would have to deem the woman eligible to receive the benefits by confirming the pregnancy and determining her income level. The bill passed the House by a vote of 117-5.
Online sports betting would become legal in Mississippi under House Bill 774, or the Mississippi Mobile Sports Wagering Act. The bill would require online sportsbooks like BetMGM, FanDuel or DraftKings to partner with an existing casino in Mississippi. This would ensure that money is staying at brick-and-mortar locations. In-person sports betting at physical casinos is currently legal. Gaming Chairman Casey Eure (R – Saucier) introduced Amendment 1, which added that the revenue collected by the state would go towards the Emergency Road and Bridge Repair Fund, and the amendment passed on a voice vote. Representative Robert L. Johnson, III introduced Amendment 2, which would have given the gross revenue from a wager to the casino within a 40-mile radius from the placed bet instead of the casino with which the platform has partnered. Amendment 2 was tabled by a vote of 77-35. The bill passed the House by a vote of 98-14.
Visitors this week included Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Mississippi Occupational Therapy Association, Hancock Youth Leadership, Miss Capital City Becky Williams and the Mississippi Podiatric Medical Association.
Week of January 22, 2024
2024 Second Extraordinary Session
This was the fourth week of the 2024 Legislative Session.
On Wednesday, January 24, Governor Tate Reeves called an extraordinary session of the Legislature on Thursday. This was his second special session in seven days, and it was dedicated to another major economic development project.
“Project Atlas,” which was revealed to be Amazon Web Services, is a $10 billion corporate capital investment, the largest in state history, and is expected to bring 1,000 jobs to Mississippi. The project will include hyperscale data center complexes in two Madison County industrial parks, one near the Nissan plant and one near I-220 in Ridgeland.
The package from the state includes training grants, site development support, public infrastructure commitments and certain tax incentives.
Upon gaveling in at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee introduced two bills: House Bill 1 and House Bill 2. The bills create the Project Atlas Fund in the State Treasury and appropriate $44 million to the Mississippi Development Authority to fund the project. Both bills passed the House with bipartisan support and were sent to the Senate.
The Senate Finance Committee introduced Senate Bill 2001, which outlines the project and provides incentives to Amazon Web Services. Some of the state commitments include a 10-year, 100 percent corporate income tax exemption and 30-year rolling state tax exemptions. SB 2001 reached the House floor on Thursday afternoon to little debate. An amendment was introduced, but it was tabled. SB 2001 passed the House 120-2.
Governor Reeves is expected to sign the three bills into law in the next week. The House adjourned sine die from the special session on Thursday afternoon.
The House also took up House Concurrent Resolution 11, which would restore the ballot initiative process in Mississippi. The new process would require signatures of eight percent of registered voters for a measure to be placed on the ballot. Citizens would not be able to make changes to the state constitution, abortion laws, the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) or any local or special laws. The Legislature would also have the power to place an amended version of the initiative on the ballot. These exceptions were the source of debate on the House floor on Wednesday. Opponents argued that the stipulations were limiting citizens’ voices and their chance to participate in direct democracy, while proponents of the resolution said that this was still giving power back to the voters. After two amendments were tabled, HCR 11 passed by a vote of 80-40 and has been sent to the Senate. The previous ballot initiative was struck down in May 2021 by the Mississippi Supreme Court.
Week of January 15, 2024
2024 First Extraordinary Session
This was the third week of the 2024 Legislative Session. Despite winter weather across much of Mississippi, the Legislature met throughout the week.
On Wednesday, Governor Tate Reeves called an extraordinary, or special, session of the Legislature for Thursday, January 18. A special session is a meeting of the legislature outside the parameters of a normal session, and the governor decides the subject and matters that will be considered. Usually, a special session takes place when the Legislature is not already in session. This special session was dedicated to a major economic development project.
“Project Poppy” is a $1.9 billion corporate capital investment, the second largest in state history, bringing approximately 2,000 jobs to Marshall County. The average salary is expected to be $66,000. The total payroll for these jobs is expected to be the largest payroll commitment of a major project in state history.
The project is a joint venture of Accelera by Cummins, Inc., Daimler Trucks & Buses and PACCAR. Each of these companies will own 30 percent of the joint venture. The remaining ten percent is owned by EVE Energy, which will serve as the technology partner. The plant will build batteries for electric commercial vehicles, such as 18-wheelers, and it will be located north of Byhalia at the Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park on a 500-acre plot.
The package from the state includes infrastructure improvements, site preparation and certain tax incentives. If benchmarks are not met, the joint venture agrees to pay the state back in full.
Upon gaveling in at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, the House Ways and Means Committee met to introduce House Bill 1, which outlines the project and provides certain incentives to the companies. HB 1 authorizes the issuance of state bonds of approximately $482 million for the project.
The Senate Appropriations Committee introduced two bills: Senate Bill 2001 and Senate Bill 2002. SB 2001 creates the Project Poppy Fund, a special fund in the State Treasury for this project, while SB 2002 appropriates $117.6 million to the Mississippi Development Authority to fund “Project Poppy.” Both bills passed the full Senate and were released to the House.
The House convened to discuss the three bills, which all passed by a bipartisan vote. House Minority Leader Robert L. Johnson, III, (D – Natchez) introduced two amendments to HB 1. Amendment 1 would require that at least 70 percent of the project’s workforce be Mississippi residents, while Amendment 2 would require the companies to make extra investments in the community surrounding the plant. Both amendments failed, and House Bill 1 was sent to the Senate without changes.
Governor Reeves is expected to sign the bills into law. The House adjourned sine die from the special session on Thursday afternoon.
Speaker Jason White announced on Friday that committee assignments of Appropriations B, C, D and E will be completed next week. These committees are new standing House committees that are comprised of members of the full Appropriations Committee (Appropriations A).
Week of January 8, 2024
This was the second week of the 2024 Legislative Session. On Friday, Speaker Jason White made the much-anticipated announcement of committee assignments. With this announcement, legislators will now begin meeting in their respective committees. The deadline for general bill introductions is not until Monday, February 19, and committees will meet more frequently after this deadline.
On Thursday, January 11, former Speaker Philip Gunn, along with dozens of lawmakers, colleagues, friends and family, gathered on the southwest side of the State Capitol grounds for a tree dedication ceremony. During the ceremony, remarks were delivered by former Chief of Staff Nathan Wells and Gunn’s successor, Speaker Jason White. An invocation was given by Dr. Greg Belser, Gunn’s pastor at Morrison Heights Baptist Church. Gunn also delivered what he deemed his “tree speech” where he thanked his family, colleagues and staff for their support and guidance. Planting a tree at the Capitol upon leaving office is a tradition that dates back many years, and it is open only to speakers and lieutenant governors, except in very rare circumstances. The tree chosen by the 61st Speaker was a 15-foot red oak. Capitol curator Brenda Davis and Schoggen Scapes, Inc. worked to secure the tree, which came from a farm in south Mississippi.
The House passed House Resolution 6 congratulating Randy C. Ginn upon his retirement as Colonel/Director of the Mississippi Highway Patrol and Assistant Commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. Colonel Ginn was joined by family and friends on Thursday as the House presented him with HR 6. He served with the Mississippi Highway Patrol for 36 years.
The second Inauguration of Governor Tate Reeves was held Tuesday morning before a joint session of the House and Senate on the south steps of the Capitol. In his inaugural address, Governor Reeves spoke of progress in education, tax cuts and economic development, while also highlighting areas in need of improvement such as college graduates leaving the state to pursue careers.
Visitors to the Capitol this week included Mississippi Municipal League, Lowndes Young Leaders and Leadership Vicksburg.
Week of January 1, 2024
On January 2, 2024, the Mississippi State Legislature began the first session of the new four-year term. Per the Constitution of the State of Mississippi, the first session of every term is scheduled to last 125 days, as opposed to 90 days. This is to accommodate inaugurations, new committee assignments and procedural matters like choosing parking spaces and offices.
House members took the oath of office on the first day before the election of Speaker of the House and Speaker Pro Tempore. As part of the House Rules, both positions and the House Clerk are elected by the members and are sworn into office on the first day of session. Representative Jason White (R – West) was elected Speaker of the House after previously serving as Speaker Pro Tempore. Former Local and Private Chairman Manly Barton (R – Moss Point) was chosen as Speaker Pro Tempore. Andrew Ketchings was re-elected as House Clerk for his fourth term.
Members also had to elect fellow representatives to serve on both the Management and Rules committees. All members split into the four Mississippi congressional districts and nominate members to serve on these committees. Both committees are comprised of two members from each of the congressional districts, as well as the Speaker and the Pro Tempore.
Speaker Jason White announced several new House committees, including a major change to Appropriations. There will be four new standing committees within Appropriations (Appropriations B, Appropriations C, Appropriations D and Appropriations E), and these will each be comprised of eight members from the main Appropriations Committee. The Chairman of Appropriations will also serve as an ex officio voting member of the four committees. Each committee will be tasked with a portion of the state budget. Other new committees include Business and Commerce, Housing and State Affairs.
Six statewide elected officials were sworn into office by Chief Justice Michael Randolph before a joint session of the House and Senate on Thursday, January 4. The joint session also re-elected Steven Parks as state librarian.
The inauguration ceremony of Governor Tate Reeves is scheduled for next Tuesday, January 9 at 10:30 a.m. before a joint session of the House and Senate.
Early Wednesday morning, officials received a bomb threat to the Capitol, and the building was evacuated. The Mississippi Department of Public Safety conducted a thorough sweep of the premises and gave the all-clear around 11 a.m. A similar threat was made on Thursday morning to the Capitol, Mississippi Supreme Court and some Hinds County buildings. Mississippi was one of several states that received a bomb threat, and the FBI announced these were all hoaxes.
The Capitol was overflowing with guests this week due to inaugurations. Visitors to the Capitol are always welcome to meet with their legislators and witness the legislative process.
Being Sworn in January 2, 2024