Week of January 10th 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…

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Week of January 3rd 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…

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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…

Continue ReadingWeek of March 29th 2021

Week of March 22nd, 2021 This was the twelfth week of the 2021 Legislative Session. At this point in the session, a majority of billshave 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 conferenceconsists of three representatives and three senators who work together to finalize a bill. Most of thebills 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 tothe 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 thathave already been filed.With only one week left in the 2021 session, legislators will remain in Jackson to work through theweekend. The deadline for bills to come out…

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Week of March 15, 2021 This was the eleventh week of the 2021 Legislative Session. Because it is late in the session, much of theweek was spent deciding whether or not to concur with any changes made to House bills by the Senateor to invite conference on those bills. In conference, representatives and senators work together tofinalize the 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.Several bills were passed concurring with changes made in the Senate, including House Bill 852, whichcame through the House earlier this session. The bill will provide $1,000 raises for teachers andteacher’s assistants in Mississippi public schools. HB 852 will now be sent to the governor for hissignature.Last week, both Medicaid technical bills died on the calendar in each house. The Senate and Housepassed Senate Concurrent Resolution 535 on Tuesday afternoon suspending the rules…

Continue ReadingWeek of March 15, 2021

Week of March 8, 2021 This was the tenth week of the 2021 Legislative Session. Wednesday was the deadline for the House todiscuss general Senate bills. Any Senate bills that did not make it off the calendar and before the Housedied. The deadline to discuss Senate appropriations and revenue bills will occur next Tuesday, March16. 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 Housefloor this week. The bill would have created an alternative to the medical marijuana program inInitiative 65 that was voted on by Mississippians in November 2020. During discussion, severalamendments were offered, and a few members raised points of order and other parliamentaryinquiries. Eventually, SB 2765 was laid on the table, and the bill died on the calendar. Similar languageto 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…

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Legislative Update Week of February 22nd, 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…

Continue ReadingWeek of February 22nd, 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.

Continue ReadingWeek of February 1, 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.

Continue ReadingWeek of January 25, 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.

Continue ReadingWeek of January 18, 2021