3/1/21 -3/12/21 Weekly Sessions Recap
The 1st-5th of March was the ninth week of the 2021 Legislative Session. The deadline for House committees to report general bills originating from the Senate occurred Tuesday at 8 p.m. Any Senate bills that did not make it out of committees died. The House began working on these Senate bills on the House floor, and the deadline for these bills to be passed is Wednesday, March 10.
On Wednesday the 3rd, I had the opportunity to address the Mississippi Association of Supervisors and spoke on how economic growth is directly correlated with lower income taxes for our state's residents and businesses.
Many Senate bills passed the House, as the chamber began working through the Senate bills which made it out of committee on Tuesday. Senate Bill 2536, known as the Mississippi Fairness Act, would require schools to designate sports teams based on biological sex. This would not include teams that are already classified as “co-ed.” The language is similar to an amendment added to House Bill 1030 earlier in the session. After little debate, the bill passed the House by a vote of 81-28, and it has been returned to the Senate.
Several other Senate bills passed the House floor including a bill that would create the Mississippi Dementia Care Program to provide assistance to caregivers for those with Alzheimer’s Disease or another form of dementia (SB 2221); a bill that would establish the Mississippi Historic Site Preservation Fund Grant Program within the Department of Archives and History (SB 2834); and a bill that would extend the repealer on the State Board of Funeral Services (SB 2098).
The House will continue to work on bills originating from the Senate until the deadline on Wednesday. All Senate bills approved by the House will be sent back with changes to the Senate for concurrence or to invite conference.
March 8th-12th made up the tenth week of the 2021 Legislative Session. Wednesday the 10th 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 16. More than 80 Senate bills were discussed on the floor, including the following:
Senate Bill 2765, or the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act, was the source of much debate on the House floor this week. The bill would have created an alternative to the medical marijuana program in Initiative 65 that was voted on by Mississippians in November 2020. During discussion, several amendments were offered, and a few members raised points of order and other parliamentary inquiries. Eventually, SB 2765 was laid on the table, and the bill died on the calendar. Similar language to SB 2765 was added to “Harper Grace’s Law” (HB 119) in the Senate late on Thursday.
Another greatly debated bill in the House this week was Senate Bill 2727. The bill would have revised the way members of the board of the Department of Archives and History are chosen. Since its inception in 1902, board members have chosen their own successors in the seat, which are then subject to Senate confirmation. SB 2727 would have given board appointments to the governor and the lieutenant governor. The bill failed by a vote of 17-105.
Senate Bill 2119 would authorize the sale and purchase of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine in the state without a prescription. Since 2010, Mississippi has required a prescription to purchase medicines containing these stimulants. SB 2119 passed by a bipartisan vote of 117-3, and it has been sent to the governor for his signature. The House passed a similar bill (HB 479) earlier in the session, but it has since died in committee.
A few bills passed the House with unanimous support including a bill that would authorize a veteran to establish proof of military service for Veteran Driver’s License Designation in person at a DPS driver’s license station (SB 2294); a bill that would give the option to combine a concealed carry weapons permit with a driver’s license or other identification card (SB 2253); and a bill that would allow the Department of Education to grant teaching licenses to teachers who already possess the equivalent from another state (SB 2267).
On Thursday, March 11th, Governor Reeves signed SB2536, also known as the "Fairness Act" into law.
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 concur with the changes the Senate made, or to invite conference for possible further revisions before becoming law or dying.
Each Tuesday morning here at the Capitol, I lead the Capitol Prayer Group, which consists of devotion and prayer time for state leaders, lobbyist, and anyone in the area that would like to partner with your government leaders in prayer. It is a great way to begin the legislative week off right. This week we had Governor Reeves lead us in the devotion. If you ever find yourself around the State Capitol on a Tuesday morning while in session, feel free to come and join us.