2/13/21 - 2/26/21 Weekly Sessions Recap
During the 7th week of the legislative session, most of Mississippi experienced a major winter event with record lows and large amounts of snow and ice. The northern half of the state was effectively homebound, and much of Desoto County received as high as 12 inches of accumulation. As a result of the bad weather around the state, most of the legislative business was conducted via zoom. During the week, the Speakers office assigned senate bills to committees, as well as checked in daily with Representatives to determine where there were weather related needs around the state.
Before the bad weather settled in, at the dedication of a memorial wall on the Mississippi Fairgrounds, I was able to honor the family of world famous rodeo clown Lecile Harris, with a House Resolution commemorating his life and legacy. It was almost one year to the day that Lecile performed his last show at the Dixie Nationals Rodeo here in Jackson, only to go back to his room that night and pass away in his sleep. Lecile, born in Lake Cormorant, Mississippi in Desoto County was 83 years old at the time of his passing, and was still actively working as a rodeo clown.
After dealing with winter weather in Jackson and across the state the previous week, the House met in person during the 8th week to conduct legislative business. Wednesday, February 24th marked the deadline for House appropriations and revenue bills to be introduced and passed.
With general House bills out of the way, representatives began working on House appropriations Bills, which determines how much money is given to various state agencies. The House was responsible for looking at the preliminary budgets of about 50 state agencies, including the Departments of Insurance, Health, Transportation and Education. These bills represent half of the state’s budget; the other half is currently being considered by the Senate and will be sent to the House for consideration later in the legislative session.
Budgets include reverse repealers, a clause which ensures that a bill cannot become law before going to a conference committee for further revisions. With reverse repealers in place, many appropriations bills were voted on en bloc to help speed up the process.
The House Ways and Means committee also took up several bills on the floor this week, most notably House Bill 1439. House Bill 1439, or the Mississippi Tax Freedom Act of 2021, would make several changes to current Mississippi tax laws including immediately eliminating the state income tax on $50,000 of individual income and $100,000 for married couples’ income; phasing out the state income tax entirely over a ten-year period; cutting the grocery tax from 7% to 4.5% immediately, then to 3.5% by FY 2027; and increasing the sales tax from 7% to 9.5%. After much debate, HB 1439 passed the House by a vote of 85-34.
The next deadline for House members is next Tuesday, March 2, when all general bills originating in the Senate must be passed out of committee to begin work before the House as a whole. Working on Senate bills will continue until Wednesday, March 10. After this deadline, both houses will have to concur on a bill or go to conference committee to finish working on a bill.
Teen Pact had its annual camp this week here in Jackson, where teens from around the state came and learned the legislative process, which included authoring, debating, and passing bills, electing officers, and running a mock legislative sessions. This group operates within a Christian context, and consists of some of the best and brightest youth in our state. I was honored to speak to (and hang out with these) these exceptional youth twice this week. For more information about Teen Pact or how your teen might attend in the future, visit: https://teenpact.com/states/ms/
Wrapping up the week, I had the high honor of attending the American Conservative Unions "CPAC" conference in Orlando, Florida. There I was recognized as 1 of the 7 (out of 174) in Mississippi legislature to make the grade of holding true to the principles of conservative representation.