During the third week of the 2020 Legislative Session, Speaker Philip Gunn made the much anticipated announcement of committee assignments. I am honored to have been named Vice-Chairman of the following three committees: Apportionment and Elections, Congressional Redistricting, and Legislative Reapportionment. With the 2020 census coming up, redistricting will be a big deal before the next slate of elections starting in 2023. These three committees will handle election law and issues that arise over the term, as well as the redistricting of House, Senate, and Congressional districts for our state. Other committees that I have been named to serve on are as follows:
Judiciary En Banc
Public Health and Human Services
The deadline for the introduction of general bills and constitutional amendments is later in the session, and after this deadline passes, committees will meet more often and bills will begin to make it to the House floor for action.
Because of the recent outbreak of prison violence across the state, legislators have begun to focus on our corrections system. The Legislative Black Caucus Criminal Justice Reform Task Force held a meeting this week to discuss different policy solutions. Many lawmakers and visitors also attended a prison reform rally held on the Capitol grounds on Friday morning the 24th.
Visitors at the Capitol during week three included the Mississippi Nurses Association, gifted K-12 students from around the state, the Junior League of Jackson and the Mississippi Tourism Association.
On Monday, January 27th Governor Reeves started off the fourth week of the Legislative Session by delivering his first "State of the State" address from the south capitol steps. He spoke of his plans for education, health care and workforce development. He also announced his plan to close Unit 29 at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, or Parchman. This is a response to the string of killings and other violent incidents in Mississippi prisons.
You can view the full speech below.
Committees have begun to meet in earnest and bills are still being drafted and submitted before the introduction deadline. Bills must be passed out of committee before they are considered by the entire House. As a result of this, we had only one bill come before the body to be voted on this week.
Senate Bill 2149 is an appropriation bill that would divert an additional $400,000 to the Department of Finance and Administration in preparation of the 2020 U.S. Census. These funds will be used to promote and educate Mississippians about the importance of being counted by the census. The bill passed with a vote of 114-5.
On Thursday evening, a special House Election Committee met to determine the outcome of the House District 40 election (Horn Lake/Southaven). Representative Hester Jackson-McCray (D – DeSoto) was elected by 14 votes in November 2019. The race was being officially contested by former Representative Ashley Henley (R - DeSoto). Jackson-McCray has been serving in the House since the start of the Legislative Session. The bipartisan committee voted unanimously to recommend to the House that Mrs. Jackson-McCray remain in her seat. The entire House will have a vote on the special committee's recommendation in order to determine the final and official outcome of the contest. The vote will possibly take place later this week or early next week.
Representative Ramona Blackledge (R – Jones) announced her resignation this week. A special election to fill the District 88 seat has not been announced.
Visitors at the Capitol during week four included the Mississippi Occupational Therapy Association, Jackson State University Alumni, and pharmacy students from around the state. It was a real treat to have three of our Desoto County Special Olympic Champions (Dan and Daniel Arata, Jesse Wims) down to the Capitol to represent the organization, along with Desoto Conty native Rebecca Treadway (the Executive Director of the Arc Northwest Mississippi).