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Week of March 4, 2024



MS State Seal

By Representative Clay Mansell

 

The tenth week of the 2024 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 bill deadline. After Tuesday, all general bills that were not passed out of committee died before reaching the House calendar. The House convened Wednesday through Friday to discuss legislation that made it out of committee. The bills that were considered dealt with a variety of topics. Floor debate will continue on general bills until the March 14 deadline.

 

On Wednesday, House Education Chairman Rob Roberson (R – Starkville) introduced the Investing in the Needs of Students to Prioritize, Impact and Reform Education (INSPIRE) Act of 2024, or House Bill 1453. The plan would replace the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, or MAEP, the state’s current funding formula. MAEP has only been fully funded twice since its inception in 1997. Under the INSPIRE Act, the base student cost is $6,650, and schools would receive more money for low-income students, special-needs students, English language learners and others. Every four years, a group comprised of the State Superintendent of Education, local superintendents and employees of the State Department of Education would submit a report to the Legislature reviewing the formula and making recommendations. After more than one hour of debate, the House passed HB 1453 by a vote of 95-13. It has been sent to the Senate for consideration.

 

House Bill 1609 would allow a person to have their voting rights restored and felony records expunged after five years. This would not include certain crimes such as arson, armed robbery, carjacking, murder, sexual battery, voter fraud and others. The bill passed by a vote of 99-9 before being held on a motion to reconsider.

 

House Bill 1210 would establish the Dr. Elton Mac Huddleston Rural Veterinarians Scholarship in honor of the late former House member and veterinarian. Representative Mac Huddleston served as a member of the Legislature from 2008 to 2023 where he represented District 15 (Pontotoc County). The bill passed unanimously by a vote of 122-0.

 

House Bill 315 would modernize terminology in the Mississippi Code by replacing the term “mentally retarded” with the term “intellectual disability.” The bill passed unanimously 122-0.

 

House Bill 1450 would enter Mississippi into the Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact to facilitate the mobility of teachers who are married to service members. HB 1450 passed 118-0 and has been sent to the Senate.

 

House Bill 1655 would revise the candidate qualification process by requiring a notarized written statement and a copy of a Mississippi ID card. HB 1655 passed 81-35 before being held on a motion to reconsider.

 

House Bill 1156 would prohibit polling places from being closed within sixty days before an election. HB 1156 passed unanimously 122-0 and is now in the Senate.

 

Two bills would affect the pawnbroking industry in the state. House Bill 1021 would authorize the Commissioner of Banking to allow pawnbrokers to store certain purchased or pledged goods off premises. HB 1021 passed 118-2. House Bill 1062 would authorize pawnbrokers to pass credit and debit card processing charges to customers. HB 1062 passed 104-14.

 

House Bill 907 would create the Mississippi Childcare Teachers Shortage Study Committee. This committee would make a report on how to increase affordable childcare in the state while also increasing the supply of early childhood teachers. HB 907 passed 121-0.

 

House Bill 1013 would aim to combat the shortage of paramedics by creating the Paramedics Recruitment and Retention Scholarship Program. To qualify for the program, an applicant must be a certified EMT, have necessary prerequisites for an accredited paramedic program and commit to living in the State of Mississippi for a minimum of three years. HB 1013 passed 118-0.

 

Seven Representatives presented bills for the first time before the House:

  • Representative Lance Varner (R – Florence) presented House Bill 1123, which would authorize the Mississippi Department of Transportation to transfer certain property to the Greene County Board of Supervisors.

  • Representative Jonathan McMillan (R – Madison) presented House Bill 1257, which would clarify the maximum fee charged by a notary public and would allow nonresidents who work in Mississippi to be commissioned as a notary public.

  • Representative Timaka James-Jones (D – Belzoni) presented House Bill 1404, which would revise the time for holding runoff elections to four weeks instead of three weeks after the first election.

  • Representative Jim Estrada (R – Saucier) presented House Bill 1577, which would make bidding terms for public deposits compatible with between counties and municipalities.

  • Representative Lawrence Blackmon (D – Canton) presented House Bill 1558, which would require social media platforms to regulate the advertisement of tobacco and nicotine products.

  • Representative W.I. “Doc” Harris (R – Hernando) presented House Bill 1311, which would authorize boards of trustees of community or junior colleges to reduce or waive out-of-state tuition for certain students.

  • Representative Andy Stepp (R – Bruce) presented House Bill 761, which would extend the repealer on Harper Grace’s Law, which authorizes research and dispensing of CBD oil for medical purposes.

 

Several noncontroversial bills were passed on Friday including the following: a bill to revise certain provisions regarding telework by employees of state agencies (House Bill 1356); the Peer-to-peer Car Sharing Program Act (House Bill 1048); a bill to prohibit health plans from requiring step therapy before treating advanced metastatic cancer (House Bill 1143); the Seizure Safe Schools Act (House Bill 346); and a bill that would authorize community organizations to receive and administer opioid antagonists, such as Narcan (House Bill 1137).

 

The House honored the West Point High School Football Team on Thursday for winning the Class 5A MHSAA State Championship in fall 2023. The team was presented with House Resolution 58.

 

Other visitors this week included the Oxford GIRL emPOWERment Class, Mississippi Tourism Association, the Mississippi Center for Re-Entry, the American Red Cross and the Mississippi Chapters of The Links, Incorporated.

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