Update From the Week of March 18th This was the eleventh week of the 2019 Legislative Session. Because it is late in the session, much of theweek was spent deciding whether to concur with any changes made to House bills by the Senate or toinvite conference on those bills. In conference, representatives and senators work together to finalizethe details of each bill before they are sent to the governor. Included in the bills being sent toconference are most of the revenue and appropriations bills from both the House and Senate, which willdecide the state’s budget.On Thursday, Governor Phil Bryant signed Senate Bill 2116 into law. “The Heartbeat Bill,” as some havecalled it, makes it illegal for someone to have an abortion after there is a detectable heartbeat in thewomb. Usually this occurs at or around week six of a pregnancy. This law is now one of the mostrestrictive abortion laws in the United States.At the beginning of the week, the House welcomed two new members who won…

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Update From the Week of March 11th This was the tenth week of the 2019 Legislative Session. Wednesday of this week was the deadline forthe House to discuss general Senate bills. Any Senate bills that did not make it off the calendar died.The deadline to discuss Senate appropriations and other revenue bills will occur Tuesday, March 19.Many Senate general bills were discussed and debated, including the following:Senate Bill 2770 would give teachers and assistant teachers a pay raise for the first time since the lastraises were authorized over a two year period beginning in 2014. Initially, the bill stated that salarieswould increase $1,000 to be phased in over two years. During Tuesday’s floor action, the HouseEducation Committee introduced the bill with a strike-all amendment with the same $1,000 raise.Representative Steve Holland (D-Lee) offered an amendment to the strike-all raising the amount of theincrease for teachers only from $1,000 to $4,000. The increase for assistant teachers remained thesame. Rep. Holland and several others stated that the raise is…

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March 4th Legislative Update This was the ninth week of the 2019 Legislative Session. The deadline for House committees to report Senate bills occurred Tuesday at 8 p.m. Any Senate bills that did not make it out of committees died. Throughout the rest of the week, the House met to discuss bills that survived this deadline. Representatives passed a number of Senate bills, including the following: Senate Bill 2161 would amend current law by revising definitions and clarifying qualifications for the office of the State Medical Examiner and its deputies. A lengthy discussion ensued when opponents of the bill argued that the bill would not do enough to speed up the already lengthy autopsy process in the state. Proponents said that the bill would be a step in the right direction for repairing that process. The bill passed the House 81-31 without changes and is on its way to the Governor. With the passage of Senate Bill 2043, the fee for a marriage license would increase from…

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Legislative Update From the Week of February 25th The end of this week marked the deadline for House appropriations and revenue bills to be introducedand passed. The House Appropriations Committee finished passing bills regarding budgets for stateagencies last week, so most legislation came from the House Ways and Means Committee.House Bill 822 from the Ways and Means Committee would impose an annual professional privilege taxof $400 on attorneys who practice law in the state, but who are not domiciled in the state and do notmaintain a regular place of business in the state. The bill passed 90-15 and has been sent to the Senatefor consideration.The Ways and Means Committee also introduced several bond bills on the House floor. Examples ofthese bills include House Bill 935, which would issue bonds to provide funds for the Small Municipalitiesand Limited Population Counties Fund; House Bill 958, which would increase the amount of bonds thatmay be issued for certain Department of Marine Resources improvements; and House Bill 1674, whichwould authorize the…

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Legislative Update for the Week of February 18th Legislators meet with MDOT officials Donnie along with Juan Barnett meet with MDOT engineers to discuss transportation issues. 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 Education, Transportation, 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 included 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 FY20 budgets for these state agencies were level-funded, meaning they received roughly…

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February 11th Weekly Legislative Update The House met as a whole throughout the week to discuss general bills that made it out of committee and onto the calendar. Thursday, Feb. 14 was the deadline for representatives to discuss these general bills. Any bills not discussed in session by this deadline died on the calendar. The bills that were considered this week dealt with a variety of topics. One of the most debated bills from this week was House Bill 732. The bill prohibits an abortion of a fetus once a heartbeat is detected, except if the mother’s life or health is in danger. A heartbeat is usually detected around the sixth week of a pregnancy, which would make this law, if enacted, one of the earliest abortion bans in the country. Proponents of the bill said that this would be a victory for the pro-life movement and the unborn in Mississippi. Opponents argued that the bill put harsh restrictions on women and their right to choose. It…

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Legislative Update Week of February 4th The fifth week of the 2019 legislative session proved to be the busiest thus far. Committee meetings todiscuss House bills wrapped up early in the week because of Tuesday’s general bills deadline. The House convened Wednesday through Friday to discuss the legislation that made it to the calendar. The bills that were considered dealt with a variety of topics.House Bill 816, or the Mississippi Educational Talent Recruitment Act, would work to prevent “braindrain” in the state caused by recent college graduates leaving the state in pursuit of more lucrativeemployment opportunities. If enacted into law, it would provide income tax incentives in the form of arebate amounting to 50 percent of the person’s state income tax liability for recent graduates ofcolleges and other post-graduate degree programs if they stay in Mississippi for at least five years andinvest in the state. This also includes natives from other states who move to Mississippi upongraduation and meet conditions of the program. Proponents of the bill…

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January 28th 2019 Legislative Update 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. 5, no additional general bills will be added to the House calendar for consideration.  Members will also meet in session for longer periods of time to discuss the bills that have made it out of their respective committees.Although most work is still happening in these committee meetings, several bills reached the House floor and were discussed.House Bill 4 was one of the bills that made it out of committee and onto the floor.  The bill would allow private employers to give a permissive preference for certain veterans when hiring. After little debate, HB 4 passed unanimously with a vote of 118-0 and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.A number of other bills were introduced with topics including insurance regulation, corrections and local government affairs.  All bills that reached the House floor and were…

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Legislative Update Week of January 21st Legislators had a full schedule during the third week of the 2019 Legislative Session.  The deadline for introducing bills was on Monday night, so the calendar quickly became full with bills and resolutions to discuss.  Although most work is still happening in committees, several pieces of legislation reached the House floor.On Tuesday, House Bill 571 was introduced to the House as a whole.  HB 571 would work to end the commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking of children. More significantly, Section 97-29-49 of the Mississippi Code of 1972 was amended in the bill to decriminalize prostitution so minors under 18 cannot be charged with prostitution. The bill comes after Speaker Philip Gunn’s Commission on Public Policy hosted a summit on human trafficking in Mississippi on October 3, 2018. HB 571 passed with a bipartisan vote of 116-3, and it will be sent to the Senate for consideration.Other relatively uncontested bills brought to the House floor included a bill prohibiting any food…

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January 14th Legislative Update This is the second week of the 2019 Legislative Session.  Because it is early in the session, the committees are just starting to meet as bills are still being drafted, so the floor action has been light.  Bills must be passed out of committee before they are considered by the House. The deadline for the introduction of general bills and constitutional amendments is Monday, January 21, so many committees are waiting until all bills are filed to hold meetings.Though we had several resolutions come to the floor this week, only one bill made it onto the House floor.  House Bill 366, or the Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act, would allow electric cooperatives to provide broadband internet service to its electric customers.  This would greatly benefit rural Mississippians. Five amendments were offered and voted on by the House. The first three amended some language and called for the electric cooperatives to be more transparent.  These passed without debate. However, the fourth and fifth amendments failed…

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