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3/6/17 - 3/17/17 Weekly Session Recap

March 15, 2017

 

Wednesday of this week marked the deadline for the House to discuss general bills that passed through the Senate earlier this session. The deadline to discuss appropriations and revenue bills passed by the Senate will occur next week.

 

On Monday, the House passed Senate Bill 2680, which clarifies alternative relatives that may care for a child who is being abused or neglected. An amendment was adopted regarding a current divorce statute, making it easier for someone experiencing domestic violence to receive a divorce. The amendment says divorce would be allowed for people experiencing abusive physical conduct, either threatened or attempted, or abusive non-physical conduct including threats, intimidation, emotional or verbal abuse. The measure also allows for a victim to serve as the witness of the abuse. The bill passed unopposed.

 

On Tuesday, the House passed Senate Bill 2710, which will prohibit the adoption or enactment of sanctuary cities. A sanctuary city is loosely defined as a city that welcomes refugees and illegal immigrants. Supporters of the bill say this is an extra measure of safety for Mississippi residents. Those opposed say this legislation is unnecessary. The bill passed by a vote of 76-41.

 

A bill meant to give a tax exemption to private entities providing affordable housing for university students sparked discussion at the proposal of an amendment. An amendment added to Senate Bill 2509 would require schools to fly the state flag on their campus to receive this benefit. Proponents of the amendment said state schools should be flying the flag if they want to receive state money. Opponents said the flag is divisive and should not be forced on the schools. The bill passed by a vote of 77-42, but is being held on a motion to reconsider.

 

Another attempt to provide money for roads and bridges passed in the form of Senate Bill 2939. Legislators offered an amendment to the tax bill that would provide $50 million in bonds for bridge repairs and allocate use tax to the Mississippi Department of Transportation, counties and municipalities for infrastructure repair. The bill also states that in the event use tax from out-of-state sellers becomes federal law or the state experiences revenue growth, a certain percentage will be set aside for road and bridge improvements. The bill passed by a majority vote of 109-7.

 

These bills will all be sent back to the Senate, and if approved they will be sent to the governor to

  be signed into law.

 

The House also concurred with several bills sent back from the Senate, such as an anti-bullying bill and a bill supporting the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center.

 

Several groups visited the Capitol this week including the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross, Mississippi Valley State University, the Veteran Affairs Board and the Mississippi Federation of Republican Women.

 

Week of March 13, 2017

 

The deadline to consider revenue and appropriations bills that originated in the Senate occurred this week. Among other things, these bills detail how much money will be appropriated to a number of different state boards and departments. These include the Department of Revenue, the Department of Public Safety and the Institution of Higher Learning (IHL).

 

While most appropriations bills were passed in a block, a few were pulled out for individual discussion.

 

The Gaming Commission appropriation bill, Senate Bill 2986, was given individual attention when an amendment was offered to create a lottery in the state of Mississippi. Ultimately, the amendment failed, marking the last opportunity to establish a state lottery this year.

 

Appropriations for the IHL, Senate Bill 2954 and Senate Bill 2955, also garnered discussion when

amendments were introduced that would require state schools to prominently display the Mississippi flag to receive state money. Both attempts to adopt the amendment failed, as did a similar piece of legislation from last week, which died on the calendar.

 

Most of these appropriations and revenue bills will be discussed at conference, a period during which representatives and senators will work together to finalize numbers in each bill.

As the 2017 legislative session winds down, several bills are being “concurred” upon and sent to the governor to be signed into law. Among these is the Health Care Collaboration Act, which will allow the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) to enter into a health care collaborative with other health care entities throughout the state. House members also sent the Back the Badge Act to the governor, which will double penalties for any crime committed against law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians.

 

On Wednesday, the House presented House Resolution 10 to leaders of Camp Shelby to commemorate the training facility’s 100th anniversary. Members also presented House Concurrent Resolution 25 to Jake and Shirley Sanford, founders of Veterans OutReach, a charity that focuses on bettering the lives of Mississippi veterans home residents.

 

Among visitors to the Capitol this week were members of the Mississippi Library Commission, the

Mississippi Department of Mental Health, the Children’s Center for Communication and Development, the Children’s Defense Fund and Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

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