Hello, my name is Gene Newman and I am thankful for the opportunity to represent the voters of Mississippi House of Representative District 61. As a Pearl school graduate who has lived in Pearl for most of my life, I have been a dedicated community leader committed to bringing a strong voice to the area. If you have a legislative issue or any issue or problem dealing with a state agency, please contact me and I will do my best to help.
I will post House updates below and on the @genenewman61 Facebook page.
Here are the House Committees that I serve on:
Here is a link to bills that I have sponsored or cosponsored: http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2021/pdf/house_authors/newman.xml
You can call or text me at: 601-316-2491
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
RULES: If you put me in a group text or a chain email - I will block you.
UPDATES from the 2021 Session:
Week of March 29, 2021
This was the thirteenth and final week of the 2021 Legislative Session. Legislators completed the last day on Thursday, April 1, after working through the weekend to finalize the state budget. While many significant pieces of legislation did not make it through the process this year, several did and will now be signed into law by the governor.
The $6 billion state budget, completed in the last few days of the session, included an increase of $102 million to the Department of Education. This brings the Education budget to $2.3 billion, which includes teacher pay raises of $1,000 each and a total of $16 million going to pre-school education.
The Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act will elevate the level of care for female inmates by limiting use of restraints on inmates giving birth, by providing feminine hygiene products for inmates who are in need and by placing incarcerated mothers within a certain distance to their minor children.
The Mississippi Computer Science and Cyber Education Equality Act requires the Department of Education to implement a computer science curriculum in all K-12 public schools. Currently, more than half of Mississippi high schools do not teach a computer science course.
Mississippians will be able to purchase pseudoephedrine and ephedrine from pharmacies without a prescription.
Licensed retailers around the state will now be able to apply for a delivery service permit for the purpose of delivering alcohol to consumers.
Veterans are now authorized to establish proof of military service for a Veteran Driver’s License Designation in person at DPS driver’s license stations across the state.
Under Christian’s Law, photographs and recordings of autopsies around the state will remain confidential. The law is named for Christian Andreacchio, a Meridian-native who passed away in 2014.
Mississippi schools are now required to designate sports teams based on biological sex.
Proposed legislation that did not make it through the bill-making process included the Mississippi Tax Freedom Act, the privatization of liquor sales in the state, the repeal of certain occupational licenses for workers including wigologists and art therapists and a bill allowing nurse practitioners to practice primary care without a collaboration with a licensed physician.
The House adjourned sine die on Thursday, three days before the April 4 deadline. This concluded the 2021 Legislative Session, which was the second session in the four-year term.
Week of March 22, 2021
This was the twelfth week of the 2021 Legislative Session. At this point in the session, a majority of 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. Most of the bills in conference at this point in the session 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. The House also brought up and voted on several conference reports that have already been filed.
With only one week left in the 2021 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 8, 2021
This was the tenth week of the 2021 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 16. More than 80 Senate bills were discussed on the floor, including the following:
Senate Bill 2765, or the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act, was the source of much debate on the House floor this week. The bill would have created an alternative to the medical marijuana program in Initiative 65 that was voted on by Mississippians in November 2020. During discussion, several amendments were offered, and a few members raised points of order and other parliamentary inquiries. Eventually, SB 2765 was laid on the table, and the bill died on the calendar. Similar language to SB 2765 was added to “Harper Grace’s Law” (HB 119) in the Senate late on Thursday.
Another greatly debated bill in the House this week was Senate Bill 2727. The bill would have revised the way members of the board of the Department of Archives and History are chosen. Since its inception in 1902, board members have chosen their own successors in the seat, which are then subject to Senate confirmation. SB 2727 would have given board appointments to the governor and the lieutenant governor. The bill failed by a vote of 17-105.
Senate Bill 2119 would authorize the sale and purchase of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine in the state without a prescription. Since 2010, Mississippi has required a prescription to purchase medicines containing these stimulants. SB 2119 passed by a bipartisan vote of 117-3, and it has been sent to the governor for his signature. The House passed a similar bill (HB 479) earlier in the session, but it has since died in committee.
A few bills passed the House with unanimous support including a bill that would authorize a veteran to establish proof of military service for Veteran Driver’s License Designation in person at a DPS driver’s license station (SB 2294); a bill that would give the option to combine a concealed carry weapons permit with a driver’s license or other identification card (SB 2253); and a bill that would allow the Department of Education to grant teaching licenses to teachers who already possess the equivalent from another state (SB 2267).
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 concur with the changes the Senate made, or to invite conference for possible further revisions before becoming law or dying.
Week of March 1, 2021
This was the ninth week of the 2021 Legislative Session. The deadline for House committees to report general bills originating from the Senate occurred Tuesday at 8 p.m. Any Senate bills that did not make it out of committees died. The House began working on these Senate bills on the House floor, and the deadline for these bills to be passed is next Wednesday, March 10.
Senate Bill 2536, known as the Mississippi Fairness Act, would require schools to designate sports teams based on biological sex. This would not include teams that are already classified as “co-ed.” The language is similar to an amendment added to House Bill 1030 earlier in the session. After little debate, the bill passed the House by a vote of 81-28, and it has been returned to the Senate.
Several other Senate bills passed the House floor including a bill that would create the Mississippi Dementia Care Program to provide assistance to caregivers for those with Alzheimer’s Disease or another form of dementia (SB 2221); a bill that would establish the Mississippi Historic Site Preservation Fund Grant Program within the Department of Archives and History (SB 2834); and a bill that would extend the repealer on the State Board of Funeral Services (SB 2098).
The House will continue to work on bills originating from the Senate until the deadline on Wednesday. All Senate bills approved by the House will be sent back with changes to the Senate for concurrence or to invite conference.
As a reminder, visiting the Capitol is a little different this year than in years past. All guided tours are still suspended, and the Capitol Gift Shop is closed. However, Mississippians are more than welcome to visit the Capitol and participate in self-guided tours as long as they follow the proper guidelines. For more information, visit the Legislature website.
Week of February 22, 2021
After dealing with winter weather in Jackson and across the state last week, the House met in person to conduct legislative business. Last week, the House met in session and committees via teleconference, similar to what occurred earlier in the session. Wednesday, Feb. 24 marked the deadline for House appropriations and revenue bills to be introduced and passed.
With general House bills out of the way, representatives began working on House appropriations Bills, which will determine how much money is given to various state agencies.
The House was responsible for looking at the preliminary budgets of about 50 state agencies, including the Departments of Insurance, Health, Transportation and Education. 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 en bloc to help speed up the process.
The House Ways and Means committee also took up several bills on the floor this week, most notably House Bill 1439.
House Bill 1439, or the Mississippi Tax Freedom Act of 2021, would make several changes to current Mississippi tax laws including immediately eliminating the state income tax on $50,000 of individual income and $100,000 for married couples’ income; phasing out the state income tax entirely over a ten-year period; cutting the grocery tax from 7% to 4.5% immediately, then to 3.5% by FY 2027; and increasing the sales tax from 7% to 9.5%. After much debate, HB 1439 passed the House by a vote of 85-34.
The next deadline for House members is next Tuesday, March 2, when all general bills originating in the Senate must be passed out of committee to begin work before the House as a whole. Working on Senate bills will continue until Wednesday, March 10. After this deadline, both houses will have to concur on a bill or go to conference committee to finish working on a bill.
Week of February 8, 2021
This was the sixth week of the 2021 Legislative Session. The House met as whole throughout the week to discuss bills that made it out of committee and onto the calendar. Thursday, Feb. 11 was the deadline for members to introduce and discuss these general bills. Over 100 bills were brought up and discussed in session this week. Any bills not discussed in session and left on the calendar have died. The bills that were considered dealt with a variety of topics.
The Mississippi Intercollegiate Athletics Compensation Rights Act (House Bill 1030) was a bill introduced late on Thursday. The bill would allow university and college student athletes in Mississippi to receive compensation if their name or likeness is used in advertising. A few amendments were passed without debate. A third amendment was introduced that contained language similar to a bill that passed through the Senate this week (Senate Bill 2536). Proponents of the amendment said that it would protect female sports from male participation, while opponents argued that the language could affect women who already play male sports and athletes born with both male and female reproductive organs. After a point of order was raised and the original amendment was withdrawn, a fourth amendment was introduced clarifying that biologically male student athletes cannot receive compensation for likeness in sports designated for females. The bill passed the House by a vote of 89-23.
The House Judiciary A Committee introduced House Bill 196, or the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act. The act would elevate the level of care for female inmates by limiting use of restraints on incarcerated inmates giving birth, by providing feminine hygiene products for inmates who are in need and by placing incarcerated mothers within a certain distance to their minor children. The bill passed unanimously by a vote of 116-0 and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.
House Bill 852 would raise the salaries of teachers and teacher’s assistants around the state. The bill includes a $1,100 raise to assistants and teachers with less than two years of experience and a $1,000 raise for other teachers. The bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 119-2 and will now move through the Senate.
House Bill 1013 would create the Mississippi Medicaid Commission to administer the state’s Medicaid program. The bill would also abolish the Division of Medicaid that currently runs the program. The commission would consist of seven members: three appointed by the governor and four appointed by the lieutenant governor. The commission would then appoint an executive director to oversee the program. The bill passed by a vote of 102-25. It was then held on a motion to reconsider, but that motion was later tabled.
One bill that failed to receive a majority this week was House Bill 163. The bill would have created a new circuit court district consisting of Itawamba, Lee, Monroe and Pontotoc Counties. These counties are currently in the First Circuit Court District along with Alcorn, Tishomingo and Prentiss Counties. The bill failed by a vote of 57-58 and was held on a motion to reconsider. After being left on the calendar, the bill died at the end of the week.
House Bill 1136, or the Mississippi Educational Talent Recruitment Act, would create an incentive program for recent college graduates who go into teaching. The program would allow these recent graduates of in-state and out-of-state higher institutions who establish residency in Mississippi to earn a rebate equal to the amount of the individual’s state income tax for five years. The bill passed by a vote of 109-10 and will go to the Senate for consideration.
House Bill 413 would establish a "Mississippi Gospel Music Trail" similar to other trails around the state: the Blues Trail, the Country Music Trail, the Writers Trail and the Freedom Trail. Part of the bill would create a Mississippi Gospel Music Commission under the Mississippi Development Authority to plan and promote the program. The bill passed with a bipartisan vote of 119-2 and has been sent to the Senate.
House Bill 633, or the Mississippi Computer Science and Cyber Education Equality Act, would require the Department of Education to implement a computer science curriculum in K-12 public schools. According to the bill, more than half of Mississippi high schools do not currently teach a computer science course. Although some debate occurred regarding the cost of implementing the program, the bill passed by a vote of 114-4.
Many bills passed the House with overwhelming majority including a bill that would prohibit a new landfill in counties where two or more were located (House Bill 949); two bills expanding broadband access in the state (House Bills 942 and 505) the Sexual Assault Response for College Students Act (House Bill 581); a bill prohibiting state and local law enforcement agencies to implement traffic ticket quotas (House Bill 883); and a bill authorizing libraries to accept debit and credit cards as a form of payment (House Bill 488).
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. 24. The House will then work on bills that originated in the Senate.
Week of February 1, 2021
The fifth week of the 2021 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. The House convened in person on Wednesday for the first time in two weeks to discuss the legislation that made it to the calendar. The bills that were considered dealt with a variety of topics.
House Bill 997 would remove the Department of Revenue from being a wholesale distributor of alcoholic beverages 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. The bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 104-3 and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.
Another bill that would change alcohol laws was House Bill 1135. The bill would create a delivery service permit to allow the holder to contract for the delivery of alcoholic beverages from a licensed retailer to a consumer. HB 1135 passed the House by a vote of 71-38.
One greatly debated bill was House Bill 1315. The bill would repeal occupational licenses for art therapists, auctioneers, interior designers, funeral home directors and wigologists. Proponents of the bill noted that these professions pose no real threat to public safety and have no need for state regulation, while those opposed argued that this repeal would lead to a lack of oversight in these industries. HB 1315 passed by a vote of 74-36, and the bill is now being held on a motion to reconsider.
House Bill 1302 was another source of much debate among House members. The bill would authorize optometrists who have passed educational requirements and have professional experience to perform certain procedures to treat eye diseases. Proponents of the bill stated that the proposed procedures are already being taught in optometry schools and are allowed in neighboring states. Opponents of the bill debated that these procedures should be performed by licensed physicians who specialize in ophthalmology. The bill passed 90-25 and has been sent to the Senate.
House Bill 1303 would allow advance practice registered nurses, or nurse practitioners, who have met certain experience requirements to practice primary care without a collaborative agreement with a licensed physician. The bill passed the House by a vote of 78-38.
House Bill 122 would authorize expungement for up to three felony convictions if 15 years have passed since a person’s last felony conviction. Various felonies such as violent crimes, arson and trafficking would not be eligible for expungement. The bill passed by a vote of 78-42 and is now being held on a motion to reconsider.
A number of noncontroversial bills also passed through the House this week, including a bill naming the firing range at the MS Law Enforcement Officers’ Training Academy after Lieutenant Colonel Pat Cronin (HB 9); a bill authorizing the sale of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine without a prescription (HB 479); a bill authorizing the Department of Corrections to provide hospice care to terminally-ill patients (HB 1174); and a bill exempting law enforcement officers from concealed firearms permit fees and renewal fees (HB 886).
Floor debate will continue on these general bills until the Feb. 11 deadline. After that, discussion will move to appropriation and revenue bills, as well as bills originating in the Senate.
Week of January 25, 2021
This is the fourth week of the 2021 Legislative Session. Members worked diligently in committee meetings, as next Tuesday’s deadline to have House Bills out of committee quickly approaches. Last week, the House announced new protocols, and all committee meetings and sessions were moved online. Despite a few technical difficulties early in the week, the virtual meetings proved to be a success.
After Tuesday, Feb. 2, no additional general bills will be added to the House calendar for consideration. Members will return to meet in person in session on Wednesday, Feb. 3 to discuss the bills that have made it out of their respective committees. 140 bills have made it out of committee thus far, and this number should increase before the deadline.
On Tuesday, Governor Tate Reeves delivered his second State of the State address before a Joint Session of the House and the Senate. He discussed several topics important to Mississippians, including COVID-19, education, workforce development and the economy.
Week of January 18, 2021
This is the third week of the 2021 Legislative Session. The deadline for introducing general bills was on Monday night, and committees will now begin discussing these bills in meetings. After Tuesday, Feb. 2, no additional bills will be added to the House calendar for consideration.
Speaker Philip Gunn announced new chairmanships of several House Committees:
Insurance Chairman: Hank Zuber (R-Ocean Springs)
Banking and Financial Services Chairman: Jerry Turner (R-Baldwyn)
Drug Policy Chairman: Lee Yancey (R-Brandon)
Rules Chairman: Rob Roberson (R-Starkville)
Medicaid Vice-Chairman: Clay Deweese (R-Oxford)
The Speaker also announced new safety protocols that will be implemented starting next week. All committee meetings and sessions will happen via teleconference, which will be available to the public on the Legislature website. The House is scheduled to return to in-person sessions on Wednesday, Feb. 3 after the deadline to pass bills out of committee.
House Resolution 12, which was introduced on Friday morning, creates a temporary House rule determining quorum on meetings happening remotely. The resolution passed unanimously by a voice vote and makes it possible for the House to conduct business by teleconference.
Week of January 11, 2021
This is the second week of the 2021 Legislative Session. Because it is early in the session, bills are still being drafted, so floor action has been light. More than 200 House bills have already been filed and referred to committees. Bills must be passed out of committee before they are considered by the House.
The deadline for the introduction of general bills and constitutional amendments is Monday, January 18, 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.
Governor Tate Reeves signed House Bill 1 into law in a ceremony on Monday, January 11, officially changing the state flag of Mississippi. After the signing ceremony at the Two Mississippi Museums, Governor Reeves and members of the Commission to Redesign the Mississippi State Flag brought the flag to the Capitol and presented it to Speaker Philip Gunn and Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann. A large crowd of legislators, media members and others watched as the new flags were raised over each chamber of the Capitol.
Week of January 4, 2021
On January 5, 2021, the 133rd Mississippi State Legislature began the second session in its four-year term.
Though it is early in the session, there were several items taken up and passed on the House floor. House Bill 1, the first item introduced, provides that the flag design chosen by the Commission to Redesign the Mississippi State Flag and approved overwhelmingly by the citizens of Mississippi will be the new state flag. The bill passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 119-1 and was sent to the Senate for consideration, where it also passed.
Following House Bill 1, the Appropriations Chairman also introduced House Bill 68. The bill would appropriate an extra $10,000 to the Department of Finance and Administration for purchasing and flying the new flag over state buildings and other offices. HB 68 passed by a vote of 117-3, and it has been sent to the Senate.
Another measure introduced was House Bill 69. The bill would revise the term “nonstate service” under the State Personnel System to include employees of the State Veterans Affairs Board who are employed at Veterans Homes across the state. HB 69 passed by a vote of 122-0 and was sent to the Senate.
Finally, House Concurrent Resolution 2 was introduced on Friday morning. The resolution honors the life and career of former Representative Gary Staples (R-Laurel) who passed away at the end of last week. The late Representative Staples served in the House from 1988 to 1992 and from 2004 to 2020. HC 2 passed with unanimous consent in the chamber, and all House members were included as authors of the resolution.
Next Wednesday, January 13, is the deadline to request legislation, and Monday, January 18, is the deadline for filing bills. More than 190 House bills have already been filed and referred to committees.
Three new members joined the Mississippi House of Representatives since the House last convened as a result of special elections. De’Keither Stamps (D-Jackson), Lynn Wright (R-Columbus) and Joseph Tubb (R-Hattiesburg) joined the roster of representatives for the 2021 Legislative Session.
Due to COVID-19, visitors to the Capitol are limited this year. All guided tours have been suspended, and the Capitol Gift Shop is closed. However, Mississippians are allowed to visit the Capitol as long as they adhere to the proper guidelines.
ARTICLE FROM CLARION LEDGER
2021 Session Begins