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Feb. 1 was the deadline to pass general bills and constitutional resolutions out of committee in the chamber where they originated.
The death of a bill on Tuesday’s key deadline day does not necessarily mean the issue addressed in the bill is dead for the session. There may be another bill alive that could be amended to add an issue that was in a bill that died on the deadline day.
Bills that increase or reduce revenue and bills that make appropriations to state agencies were not impacted by Tuesday’s deadline.
Bills that are still alive as of Feb. 1
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.
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.
Senate Bill 2634 would provide matching money to help recipients of TANF benefits create savings accounts, and the savings would not affect their eligibility for TANF benefits. A majority of other states have such a program. Mississippi has millions in unspent Temporary Aid for Needy Family funds, and a majority of other states have a similar savings program. TANF funds would match private savings 2-1, up to a total of $4,000 in savings for a family. The program would include financial literacy training for beneficiaries, and they would be limited in how they could spend the savings to only large items such as college education, purchasing a home, or purchasing a vehicle for work.
Senate Bill 2113 supporters say it would prohibit the teaching of critical race theory in kindergarten through 12th grade schools and 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. Some say the bill is so vague that it is not clear what the impact of the legislation would be.
House Concurrent Resolution 39 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 legislation would allow the initiative process to be used to change state law instead of the Constitution as the old process allows.
Senate Bill 2095, pending a governor’s signature, 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.
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.
House Bill 630 would ensure that people who had their felony convictions expunged would regain their voting rights. Numerous bills were filed to provide that people convicted of felonies would regain the right to vote at some point after completing their sentence, but those proposals did not survive the committee deadline. Mississippi is only state where people convicted of certain felonies must petition the Legislature to have their voting rights restored,
House Bill 769 would provide up to $225,000 grants to health care providers to help battle COVID-19.
House Bill 928 would provide grants to hospitals to expand facilities as needed to deal with COVID-19.
House Bill 1029 would provide grants to expand broadband access.
House Bill 1510 is a far-reaching bill that would give Secretary of State Michael Watson authority to audit election results and hire outside groups to assist with the effort. The bill also would provide a time frame to purge voter rolls and would require social media companies to file reports with the Secretary of State’s office detailing the reasons for restricting candidates and elected officials from their social media platform.
Senate Bill 2356, 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.
Senate Bill 2273 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.
Senate Bill 2164 would create a stand alone Department of Tourism, instead of a division within the Mississippi Development Authority. It would also create the Mississippi Department of Tourism Fund and divert a portion of sales tax revenue collected from restaurants and hotels there instead of to MDA. It would create a 12-member marketing advisory board to assist the department.
Bills that died on Feb. 1
House Bill 108 is among the many bills filed that would have expanded Medicaid as is allowed under federal law to provide health care coverage for primarily the working poor. While the bills are dead, there might be other mechanism available in the legislative process to try to expand Medicaid, though, those efforts are not likely to be successful because of opposition from some legislative leaders.
House Concurrent Resolution 16 would have moved state elections, such as for governor, county offices and others, to presidential election years.
House Bill 377 would have restored voting rights to military veterans who were convicted of certain felonies.
House Bill 893 would have prohibited public officials from changing political parties during their term in office.
House Concurrent Resolution 19 would have imposed term limits on legislators.
House Bill 22 would have allowed no-excuse early voting.
House Bill 292 would have allowed online voter registration.
Senate Bill 2244 would make many people convicted to life in prison when they were under the age of 18 eligible for parole after 20 years.
House Bill 560 would make it easier for people convicted under the age of 21 to earn supervised release.
House Bill 1467 would have changed Mississippi’s hate crimes bill to add harsher penalties for violent attacks against people based on disabilities, sexual orientation or gender identity. This would bring state law in line with federal hate crimes laws. Advocates have pushed for this change for several years now to no avail, and the issue died in House committee without a vote.
Senate Bill 2695 would have required state financial aid to be based primarily on need.