The Mississippi Legislature’s annual session is down to its final month and there are plenty of issues still in play, including reform of the state’s alcohol distribution system, a first step toward the elimination of the state’s income tax and several more that deal with the occupational licensing.
The next deadline on the general bill calendar is Tuesday, which is the final day when committees can report bills from the other chamber. Any bill that isn’t reported out of committee is dead.
As for the finance bill calendar, the next deadline is March 16, when appropriations and revenue bills from the other chamber must receive a floor vote.
Here are some of the more interesting bills that are still alive:
House Bill 1439, the Mississippi Tax Freedom Act, would set new deductions for both individuals ($47,700) and married couples ($95,400). The implementation of these exemptions would be phased in over time and tied to state revenues in the general fund and the rate of inflation. Once fully implemented, all income up to these levels would no longer be subject to the state’s income tax. The bill is sponsored by House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton and passed the House by an 85-34 margin Tuesday. It has yet to be assigned to a committee in the Senate.
HB 997 authored by state Rep. Trey Lamar, R-Senatobia, would end the practice of the state being the wholesale distributor for wine and spirits and govern the issuance of wholesaler permits. It passed the House 104-3 on February 3 and has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.
HB 586 would compare the state’s voter database to several databases to ensure that non-U.S. citizens are not registered to vote. The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Dan Eubanks, R-Walls, and passed the House by a 76-39 margin on February 10 and has yet to be assigned a committee in the Senate.
HB 718 would require all campaign finance reports to be posted online by the 2022 election cycle. The bill passed the House on February 4 unanimously and has been double-referred to the Elections and Accountability, Efficiency, Transparency committees in the Senate. The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Timmy Ladner, R-Poplarville.
Senate Bill 2536, also known as the Mississippi Fairness Act, would require schools to designate sports teams for either one biological sex or the other, with the exception of co-ed teams. It was authored by state Sen. Angela Hill, R-Picayune and has yet to be assigned to a committee in the House.
SB 2765, known as the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act, was authored by state Sen. Kevin Blackwell, R-Southaven, and would create a medical marijuana program extremely similar to the one that will be created by Initiative 65. The bill was passed 30-19 just minutes before the deadline but hasn’t been assigned to a committee in the House.
HB 72 would provide immunity for dentists providing charitable and emergency services. It passed the House by a 110-8 margin and was reported out of the Senate Judiciary A Committee Thursday.
HB 1030 is known as the Mississippi Intercollegiate Athletics Compensation Rights Act. It would provide that student athletes might earn compensation for name or likeness rights and obtain a certified agent strictly for that compensation. These student athletes wouldn’t be eligible for compensation based on their participation. The bill is authored by state Rep. Mac Huddleston, R-Pontotoc and was passed by an 89-6 margin on February 3 and has been referred to the Universities and Colleges Committee.
SB 2001 is authored by state Sen. Dennis DeBar, R-Leakesville, and would provide a $1,000 annual pay raise for teachers. The bill has been double-referred to both the Education and Appropriations committees in the House. Gov. Tate Reeves has said repeatedly that any teacher pay raise that reaches his desk will be signed into law.
SB 2004, authored by state Sen. Blackwell, would delete the moratorium on new child/adolescent psychiatric or chemical dependency beds under the state’s certificate of need law. It passed unanimously in the Senate on February 3 and has been referred to the Public Health and Human Services Committee in the House.
HB 1303 would allow nurse practitioners full practice authority in Mississippi and is sponsored by state Rep. Donnie Scoggin, R-Ellisville. The bill has passed the House 77-38.
HB 1302 would allow optometrists to provide care to patients commensurate with their training and experience, including prescribing certain drugs. The legislation was sponsored by state Rep. Jason White, R-West, and passed the House by a 90-25 vote on February 3. It passed the Senate by a 47-5 margin on February 25 and will be headed for conference after the Senate added a strike-all amendment.
HB 1263 would allow reciprocity for holders of occupational licenses from other states who move to Mississippi if they meet certain requirements and their license is valid and in good standing. It was sponsored by state Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, and passed by a 117-3 vote on February 3. It has been referred to the Accountability, Efficiency, Transparency Committee in the Senate.
HB 1315 would eliminate licensing requirements for art therapists, auctioneers, interior designers and wigologists and was sponsored by House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton. It passed 72-38 and has been sent to the Senate. It has been referred to the Accountability, Efficiency, Transparency Committee in the Senate.
HB 1013 would abolish the Division of Medicaid, which is run by the governor, and replace it with a Medicaid Commission. It was authored by state Rep. Lamar and passed by a 102-14 margin on February 10. It is being handled by the Medicaid and Accountability, Efficiency, Transparency committees in the Senate.
SB 2119 is sponsored by state Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall and would allow the sale of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine without a prescription. A committee substitute was passed by the Senate with a 42-4 margin on February 4 and has been referred to the House Drug Policy Committee.
HB 466 would allow the state Department of Corrections to utilize money from the Inmate Welfare Fund for re-entry related expenses, such as technical training equipment. The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Kevin Horan, D-Grenada. It has passed the Corrections Committee chaired by Horan and it passed unanimously in the House. Senate leadership has double-referred it to the Corrections and Appropriations committees.
HB 581, known as the Sexual Assault Response for College Students Act, would require the state’s community colleges and universities to adopt comprehensive policies “consistent with federal and state law” regarding sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual exploitation and stalking. It is authored by state Rep. Angela Cockerham, D-Magnolia and passed the House by a 114-4 margin on February 10. It has been double-referred to the Universities and Colleges and Judiciary B committees in the Senate.
HB 942 would allow Entergy and Mississippi Power to use their power delivery infrastructure to get broadband service to unserved or underserved areas by leasing it to broadband providers. The bill passed 120-1 on February 9 and has been referred to the Senate Energy Committee.
HB 505 would create a broadband accessibility grant program that would be managed by the Public Utilities Staff. It was also authored by Bounds and has been double-referred to the Energy and Appropriations
SB 2804 would the retail delivery of alcoholic beverages from a licensed retailer to a consumer. The bill was authored by state Sen. Josh Harkins, R-Flowood and the bill passed the Senate by a 46-6 margin on February 11 and will be handled by the House Ways and Means Committee.
SB 2588 would create a statewide election management system and would remove voters who fail to respond to a notice and who fail to vote after a certain time. It is authored by state Sen. Jeff Tate, R-Meridian and passed by a 36-16 margin on February 10. The House Appropriations and Elections Committee will handle the bill.
SB 2788 is sponsored by state Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson and would require municipal law enforcement to inform the state Highway Safety Patrol of any road blockages or emergencies on interstates in city limits. It was passed by the Senate by a unanimous vote on February 11 and has been referred to the House Transportation Committee.
SB 2806 is a placeholder bill that brings forward code sections related to the Alcohol Beverage Control division of the state Department of Revenue. The bill would also allow the DOR to contract for a concessionaire to take over management and operation of the state’s alcohol warehouse. By including code sections in the bill, it gives lawmakers more time to work on the issue.
State. Sen. Harkins authored the bill and it passed by a 47-1 margin on February 9 after a reverse repealer was added to the bill, meaning it requires further work even if passed by the House before it can go to the governor for signature. The House Ways and Means Committee will handle the bill.
SB 2486 could open the door for some state parks to be transferred to counties and others to be leased by private companies. It is authored by state Sen. Neil Whaley, R-Potts Camp, and it was watered down to a study committee that will make a report to the Legislature next year. If the governor signs it into law, House and Senate leaders will choose five senators and representatives for the committee. The Senate passed it by a 32-11 vote on February 5 and has been referred to the House Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committee.