On Monday, February 3rd, several legislators (including myself) paired up with youth from around our state to help show cattle at one of the livestock portions of the Dixie Nationals. The Dixie Nationals is one of the biggest Ag events in our state, and attracts livestock, acts, performers and people from around the state and country. This was the first of scheduled events.
During the fifth week of session in the House, floor action was quite light because the deadline to file general bills was still over a week away. Bills must be filed and then passed out of committee before they are considered by the entire House.
One bill that reached the House floor during this week was House Bill 95. The bill would provide that the Commissioner of Insurance shall resolve certain disputes between providers and the insureds regarding billing. The bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 111-4. The following day, the bill was held on a motion to reconsider.
This week, the House also voted unanimously to seat Hester Jackson McCray (D – DeSoto). McCray won the District 40 election by 14 votes in November 2019. After her opponent contested the election results, a House Special Committee voted unanimously the previous week to recommend that Representative McCray keep her seat.
Visitors at the Capitol during the fifth week included Alcorn State University, the Mississippi Speech-Language Hearing Association, the Mississippi School of Math and Science, the Mississippi Economic Development Council, members of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., the Mississippi Library Association and the Mississippi Physical Therapy Association.
During the sixth week of the 2020 Legislative Session, House members had a busy week full of committee meetings and hearings. The deadline for the introduction of general bills and constitutional amendments is Monday, February 17, so members will remain busy over the next few weeks deciding which drafted bills will make it onto the House floor.
On Tuesday, Speaker Philip Gunn was presented the Angel Award by the Mississippi Center for Violence Prevention and was recognized for his commitment to fight human trafficking. In October 2018, Speaker Gunn’s Commission on Public Policy hosted a Human Trafficking Summit, and last session, the House passed House Bill 571 which made it illegal for a person under the age of 18 to be charged with prostitution. By doing this, it ultimately enables law enforcement to turn the tables on the system used by those trafficking minors.
After being held on a motion to reconsider at the end of last week, House Bill 95 came before the House again. The bill would provide that the Commissioner of Insurance shall resolve certain disputes between provider and the insured regarding billing. Amendment 1 to HB 95 was introduced and passed on a voice vote. The bill passed as amended and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.
House Bill 756 was the source of much debate during session on Thursday. The bill would require the Department of Finance and Administration to ascertain cost estimates of repairs at the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility. The correctional facility has been closed since the fall of 2016. The bill passed 91-22, and it has been held on a motion to reconsider.
House Bill 687, which would extend the date of the repealer on the provision of law that requires the Mississippi Boll Weevil Management Corporation to submit the annual audit of its accounts to the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce by November 15. The bill passed 117-2. House Bill 408, which would provide requirements for credit for reinsurance companies, passed 115-4.
Although several resolutions were passed by the House this week, one concurrent resolution in particular stood out. House Concurrent Resolution 13 honors the life of Mr. William J. “Billy” McCoy, who passed away in November 2019. Speaker McCoy was a member of the House from 1980 to 2012, serving as Speaker of the House from 2004 to 2012. During his time in the House, he also served as Chairman of Ways and Means, Chairman of Education and Vice-Chairman of Highways and Highway Financing (now Transportation), among his other committee appointments. HC 13 was passed unanimously by the members.
During session on Thursday, the House was visited by Miss Mississippi Mary Margaret Hyer. She addressed the House and spoke of her platform to increase the number of registered organ donors across the state.
During the week Teen Pact also held its annual Leadership School at both the Capitol and across the street at the Wolfolk Building. This amazing organization educates youth from around Mississippi on the legislative process, as does so with a Christian worldview. Teens learn to write, present, argue, and pass legislation, as well as work on their own personal character and faith. I was honored to be a part of their week, and one of their keynote speakers. For more information about this organization please visit: https://teenpact.com/states/ms/
This was also the second week of festivities at the Dixie Nationals. In addition to livestock being judged in almost every catagory, there were rodeos and music performances each night. Lecil Harris, the world famous rodeo clown, author, and former bull rider, was a part of each nights performance. Over his 83 years of life, he brought countless laughs and smiles to audiences around the world. Lecil passed away peacefully in his sleep after his final performance the last night of the rodeo. Born in Lake Cormorant, Mississippi, I can think of no more fitting end to this Pro Rodeo Hall of Famer's life than by doing what he loved in the state he was born. He will be missed.
In addition to the Teen Pact Leadership Schools, other visitors at the Capitol this week included; Miss. Mississippi, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks; the Mississippi Court Reporters Association; Mississippi Public Broadcasting; and the Mississippi Academy of Family Physicians.