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2/8/21 - 2/12/21 Weekly Sessions Recap

This was the sixth week of the 2021 Legislative Session. The House met as whole throughout the week to discuss bills that made it out of committee and onto the calendar. Thursday, Feb. 11 was the deadline for members to introduce and discuss these general bills. Over 100 bills were brought up and discussed in session this week. Any bills not discussed in session and left on the calendar have died. The bills that were considered dealt with a variety of topics.

The Mississippi Intercollegiate Athletics Compensation Rights Act (House Bill 1030) was a bill introduced late on Thursday. The bill would allow university and college student athletes in Mississippi to receive compensation if their name or likeness is used in advertising. A few amendments were passed without debate. A third amendment was introduced that contained language similar to a bill that passed through the Senate this week (Senate Bill 2536). Proponents of the amendment said that it would protect female sports from male participation, while opponents argued that the language could affect women who already play male sports and athletes born with both male and female reproductive organs. After a point of order was raised and the original amendment was withdrawn, a fourth amendment was introduced clarifying that biologically male student athletes cannot receive compensation for likeness in sports designated for females. The bill passed the House by a vote of 89-23.

The House Judiciary A Committee introduced House Bill 196, or the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act. The act would elevate the level of care for female inmates by limiting use of restraints on incarcerated inmates giving birth, by providing feminine hygiene products for inmates who are in need and by placing incarcerated mothers within a certain distance to their minor children. The bill passed unanimously by a vote of 116-0 and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.

House Bill 852 would raise the salaries of teachers and teacher’s assistants around the state. The bill includes a $1,100 raise to assistants and teachers with less than two years of experience and a $1,000 raise for other teachers. The bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 119-2 and will now move through the Senate.

House Bill 1013 would create the Mississippi Medicaid Commission to administer the state’s Medicaid program. The bill would also abolish the Division of Medicaid that currently runs the program. The commission would consist of seven members: three appointed by the governor and four appointed by the lieutenant governor. The commission would then appoint an executive director to oversee the program. The bill passed by a vote of 102-25. It was then held on a motion to reconsider, but that motion was later tabled.

One bill that failed to receive a majority this week was House Bill 163. The bill would have created a new circuit court district consisting of Itawamba, Lee, Monroe and Pontotoc Counties. These counties are currently in the First Circuit Court District along with Alcorn, Tishomingo and Prentiss Counties. The bill failed by a vote of 57-58 and was held on a motion to reconsider. After being left on the calendar, the bill died at the end of the week.

House Bill 413 would establish a “Mississippi Gospel Music Trail” similar to other trails around the state: the Blues Trail, the Country Music Trail, the Writers Trail and the Freedom Trail. Part of the bill would create a Mississippi Gospel Music Commission under the Mississippi Development Authority to plan and promote the program. The bill passed with a bipartisan vote of 119-2 and has been sent to the Senate.

House Bill 633, or the Mississippi Computer Science and Cyber Education Equality Act, would require the Department of Education to implement a computer science curriculum in K-12 public schools. According to the bill, more than half of Mississippi high schools do not currently teach a computer science course. Although some debate occurred regarding the cost of implementing the program, the bill passed by a vote of 114-4.

Many bills passed the House with overwhelming majority including a bill that would prohibit a new landfill in counties where two or more were located (House Bill 949); two bills expanding broadband access in the state (House Bills 942 and 505) the Sexual Assault Response for College Students Act (House Bill 581); a bill prohibiting state and local law enforcement agencies to implement traffic ticket quotas (House Bill 883); and a bill authorizing libraries to accept debit and credit cards as a form of payment (House Bill 488).

The coming weeks will consist of floor discussion of House appropriations and other revenue bills. The deadline for these revenue bills to be sent to the Senate is Wednesday, Feb. 24. The House will then work on bills that originated in the Senate.

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