The Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson Credit: Vickie D. King/Mississippi Today

Over 30,000 Mississippians get stories like this delivered to their inboxes for free.

Sign up for The Today, our daily newsletter, and continue to read this story.

The 2022 regular session of the Mississippi Legislature began Jan. 4 and is in full swing.

After the Jan. 17 deadline to file general legislation, the House had 1,035 bills assigned to committee; in the Senate, 887. Spending and revenue bills face later deadlines. The deadline for each chamber to pass its own bills and send them to the other chamber is Feb. 11.

To check the status of a bill in the Mississippi Legislature, click here.

Some bills of interest this year include:

Teacher pay raise

Senate Bill 2444 would increase teacher pay by years of experience and level of certification. It would raise pay an average of $4,700 over two years and restructure the way teachers are paid to provide them higher salaries in the long-term.

READ MORE: Senate leaders unveil historic plan to significantly increase teacher pay

House Bill 530 would increase all teachers’ pay by $4,000 to $6,000 a year and boost starting teachers’ pay from $37,000 a year to $43,125, above both the Southeastern and national averages.

READ MORE: House unveils its own massive teacher pay raise, tops Senate proposal

Medical marijuana

Senate Bill 2095, overwhelmingly passed by the Senate and pending in the House, would allow chronically ill Mississippians to use medical cannabis. It would replace a program approved by voters in 2020, but shot down by the state Supreme Court on a technicality.

READ MORE: Senate overwhelmingly passes Mississippi medical marijuana

Equal pay

Senate Bill 2451 and House Bill 770 would prohibit Mississippi employers from paying people of different sexes different pay for the same work. Mississippi is now the only state in the nation without an equal pay law, after Alabama passed one in 2019. Women working full time in Mississippi earn 27% less than men, far greater than the 19% gap nationwide. That gap grows worse for Black and Latina women in Mississippi, who are paid just 54 cents for every dollar paid to white men.

READ MORE: Will Mississippi continue to short-change women on equal pay?

Education and race

HB437 is among multiple bills filed that would prohibit the teaching of critical race theory in kindergarten through 12th grade schools. Some of the bills, including Senate Bill 2113, also would prohibit the teaching of critical race theory on the university level. State Department of Education officials have said critical race theory, which strives to explore the impact of racial discrimination on various aspects of society, is not being taught in the public schools.

HB750 would require the state Department of Education to develop a curriculum on African American studies and racial equality for the public schools.

College financial aid

SB2695 would require state financial aid to be based primarily on need.

Voting

HC20 is among multiple pieces of legislation that would restore voting rights to people convicted of certain felonies once they complete their sentence.

HC16 would move state elections, such as for governor, county offices and others, to presidential election years.

HB377 would restore voting rights to military veterans who were convicted of certain felonies.

HB893 would prohibit public officials from changing political parties during their term in office.

HC19 would impose term limits on legislators.

HB22 would allow no-excuse early voting.

HB292 would allow online voter registration.

Health care

HB108 would expand Medicaid as is allowed under federal law to provide health care coverage for primarily the working poor.

SB2107 would allow an exemption from vaccinations for children enrolling in the public schools based on parental or religious objections.

SB2726 would prevent entities receiving state funds from imposing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Criminal justice

SB2407 would allow employs of people convicted of crimes to provide reports to probation officers to prevent the need for the employee to leave work to report to a probation officer.

SB2244 would make many people convicted to life in prison when they were under the age of 18 eligible for parole after 20 years.

HB560 would make it easier for people convicted under the age of 21 to earn supervised release.

Early childhood education

HB875 would develop a statewide universal pre-kindergarten program.

Social media

SB2573 would require social media companies to file report with the Secretary of State’s office detailing the reasons for restricting candidates and elected officials from their social media platform.

Initiative process

SC 521 would restore the initiative process to allow citizens to gather signatures to bypass the Legislature and place issues on the ballot. The proposal would change the language that the Supreme Court ruled this past May invalidated the initiative process. The process also would allow the initiative process to be used to change state law or the Constitution. The old process allowed the initiative to be used only to alter the Constitution.

Social policy

SB2356, dubbed the Real You Act, would prohibit people convicted of crimes from changing their name while incarcerated and would require medical approval or other approval for a minor to legally change his or her sexual identity.


We want to hear from you!

By listening more intently and understanding the people who make up Mississippi’s communities, our reporters put a human face on how policy affects everyday Mississippians. We’re listening closely to our readers to help us continue to align our work with the needs and priorities of people from all across Mississippi. Please take a few minutes to tell us what’s on your mind by clicking the button below.


Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Geoff Pender serves as senior political reporter, working closely with Mississippi Today leadership on editorial strategy and investigations. Pender brings 30 years of political and government reporting experience to Mississippi Today. He was political and investigative editor at the Clarion Ledger, where he also penned a popular political column. He previously served as an investigative reporter and political editor at the Sun Herald, where he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for Hurricane Katrina coverage. Originally from Florence, Mississippi, Pender is a journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has received numerous awards throughout his career for reporting, columns and freedom of information efforts.

Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.