2/27/23 -3/10/22 Weekly Sessions Recap
Week of February 27, 2023
This was the ninth week of the 2023 Legislative Session. The deadline for House committees to report general bills originating from the Senate occurred Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. Any Senate bills that did not make it out of committee died. Members worked on these Senate bills on the House floor, and the deadline for these bills to be passed is next Wednesday, March 8.
Senate Bill 2781 would create the Mississippi Access to Maternal Assistance Program under the Department of Health, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Child Protective Services and the Division of Medicaid. The program would provide information and services related to pregnancy, childbirth and childcare for expectant mothers and new parents. The House passed the bill by a vote of 113-4 and has been returned to the Senate.
Senate Bill 2323 would allow for consolidation and collaboration among community hospitals around the state. The bill passed initially with little debate by a vote of 107-2, but several members asked for unanimous consent to change their vote on the bill, making the final tally 90-22. SB 2323 has been returned to the Senate for concurrence or to invite conference.
Contract workers employed by the State of Mississippi would be allowed to purchase the base plan of the State and School Employees’ Health Insurance Plan under Senate Bill 2615. The worker must pay full price of the plan without contribution from their employer, and employers must offer this to any state contract worker who works at least 130 hours per month. SB 2615 passed the House 88-17.
Senate Bill 2623 would create the Mississippi State and School Employees’ Life and Health Insurance Plan Task Force to study the current insurance plans and make recommendations about possible changes. The bill passed 110-6 and has been returned to the Senate.
Senate Bill 2700 would provide homestead exemption for unremarried surviving spouses of military members killed on active duty or training. SB 2700 passed unanimously by a vote of 117-4.
The Mississippi Vulnerable Persons Abuse Registry would be created under Senate Bill 2652. The bill is the Senate equivalent to House Bill 1392, which passed unanimously earlier in the session. SB 2652 passed by a vote of 118-1.
Senate Bill 2140, or the National Security on State Devices and Networks Act, would regulate what could be downloaded to a state-issued device. This includes any information technology that could pose a security risk to the United States and/or the State of Mississippi. The bill passed 117-2.
Several bills from the Local and Private committee were also taken up this week. The bills mostly dealt with tourism taxes in municipalities and counties across the state.
The House will continue to work on bills originating from the Senate until the deadline next Wednesday. All Senate bills approved by the House will be sent back with changes to the Senate where they can concur with the changes or invite conference. There are more than 60 Senate bills remaining on the House calendar that must be dealt with by next Wednesday.
Visitors this week included the American Red Cross; the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks; Mississippi Delta Community College; the Mississippi Main Street Association; fourth graders from Mannsdale Upper Elementary School; the National Champion Northwest Rankin High School Cheer Squad; and the 3A State Champion Raleigh High School Football Team.
Week of March 6, 2023
This was the tenth week of the 2023 Legislative Session. Wednesday was the deadline for the House to discuss general Senate bills. Any Senate bills that did not make it off the calendar and before the House died. The deadline to discuss Senate appropriations and revenue bills will occur next Tuesday, March 14.
Senate Bill 2212 would extend postpartum Medicaid coverage for new mothers from 60 days to a full year. Proponents of the bill said that the extension would improve Mississippi’s infant and maternal mortality rates, currently some of the highest in the United States. Opponents argued that the bill could open the door for a full expansion of Medicaid. The bill passed by a vote of 92-27 and has been returned to the Senate. Governor Tate Reeves has indicated that he would sign postpartum Medicaid expansion into law should the Legislature pass it.
A ballot initiative process could be restored under Senate Concurrent Resolution 533. Unlike the former process, SCR 533 would allow for statutory changes, or changes to the law, rather than an amendment to the constitution. A House amendment was adopted lowering the threshold of signatures needed from 12 percent of registered voters to 12 percent of the number of voters in the last gubernatorial election. The former ballot initiative process was deemed invalid by the Mississippi Supreme Court in 2021 based on the technicality that the number of Congressional districts had gone from five to four, and the language was not updated in the initiative process. SCR 533 passed 77-9 with many members voting present. The concurrent resolution will go to conference for further revisions before the session is over.
Other Senate bills that passed the House included a bill to ban ballot harvesting (SB 2358), a bill to allow armed educators in schools (SB 2079), a bill to create a Public Funds Offender Registry (SB 2420), a bill to revise the boundary lines of the Capitol Complex Improvement District (SB 2343), a bill that would revise the penalty for motor vehicle theft (SB 2099) and the Mississippi Regional Pre-Need Disaster Clean Up Act (SB 2538).
On Thursday, the House took up the Senate’s half of the state budget, which includes the Departments of Finance and Administration, Banking and Consumer Finance, Revenue, Mental Health, Corrections and Public Safety. These are all preliminary budgets, and the bills include reverse repealers, a clause that will send the bill to conference to be discussed further. Many of these bills were taken up in a block to speed up the process.
Several local and private bills were also taken up this week. These bills dealt with a variety of topics such as authorizing certain cities and counties to make various contributions to local organizations and extending repealers on certain cities’ tourism taxes. The deadline for the House to introduce these local and private revenue bills is Friday, March 17. Local and private bills that are not deemed revenue bills have until Friday, March 24 to be introduced.
The calendar also included several House bills that were passed earlier in the session, sent to the Senate and are now back before the House. With this process, the representatives will vote on whether to agree with the changes the Senate made, or to invite conference for possible further revisions before becoming law or dying.
On Tuesday, the House honored Forest native Constance Slaughter-Harvey with House Resolution 37. The resolution commends Ms. Slaughter-Harvey on her impressive civil rights activism and legal career in the State of Mississippi. Among her many accomplishments, she was the first African American female to graduate from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1970. Ms. Slaughter-Harvey was presented with HR 37 by Representative Tom Miles (D – Forest) and Representative Earle Banks (D – Jackson).
Other visitors at the Capitol this week included the SWAC Champion football, soccer and track teams of Jackson State University; Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.; the Mississippi Library Association; the Mississippi Arts Commission; Miss Biloxi Katelyn Perry; and Leadership Madison County.
CPAC 2023 (Featured Top to Bottom, Left To Right) - Ben Carson, Me in the Oval Office, Candace Owen, President Donald Trump, Corey Eubanks Being Interviewed By Moms For America, Don Jr and US Rep Matt Gaetz.