The deadline for House committees to pass Senate bills occurred Tuesday. Any Senate bills that did not make it out of these committees died. Throughout the rest of the week, the House met to discuss Senate bills as a whole.
Both the House and Senate introduced bills regarding campaign finance this year. This week the House discussed the Senate’s version, Senate Bill 2689. The Senate version included a grandfather clause exempting campaign accounts created before the bill would go into effect and provided more specific definitions that would clarify the bill. House members compromised on this bill with their own version by inserting language from the House’s campaign finance bill. This transferred more authority to the Mississippi Ethics Commission and clarified situations in which campaign funds would not be allowed for use. The bill passed by a vote of 102-12.
Senate Bill 2625 garnered a lot of discussion when introduced to the House floor this week. While the bill simply makes a few technical corrections to legislation passed last year, some representatives expressed concern about how the previous bill is affecting state agencies. The bill passed last year authorized a yearly sweep of the special funds of 15 state agencies into the state general fund. Agencies now have to ask for that money from the general fund instead of having it automatically allocated to them in special funds. Supporters say that this allows funding to be distributed to areas that need it and adds transparency in how money in special funds is being used. Those opposed say that agencies should be able use the money at their own discretion as they have in years past. The new technical corrections proposed passed by a vote of 84-33.
A couple of items were added to previous legislation with the passage of Senate Bill 2305, known as the “move over bill.” Legislation which formerly required drivers to yield right-of-way to emergency vehicles will now include mail carrier vehicles in the list of public servants for which drivers must move out of the way on the road.
House members passed Senate Bill 2006, which will require mammogram providers to alert patients to dense breast tissue that may cause problems in the future. Currently, patients simply receive information about whether the test was positive or negative without being alerted that there may be tissue that indicates possibility of future complications.
Legislators honored several Mississippians at the Capitol this week for their personal accomplishments and positive representation of our state. On Tuesday, members presented a concurrent resolution to the 2016 Alcorn State University Women’s Tennis Team for winning the 2016 Southwestern Athletic Conference Women’s Tennis Tournament. On the same day, Blues musician Bobby Rush was honored for winning the first Grammy of his career at the 59th annual Grammy Awards in early February for his album “Porcupine Meat.” Later in the week, legislators recognized Mississippi NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Miss Mississippi 2016 Laura Lee Lewis for their titles and accomplishments. Several groups visited legislators at the Capitol this week, including the Alcorn State University National Alumni Association, the National Association of Social Workers, Keep Mississippi Beautiful, the Desoto County Economic Development Council and the Mississippi Sickle Cell Foundation.