3/15/21-4/1/21 Weekly Sessions Recap
Week of March 15, 2021
During the eleventh week of the 2021 Legislative Session, much of the week was spent deciding whether or not to concur with any changes made to House bills by the Senate or to invite conference on those bills. In conference, representatives and senators work together to finalize the details of each bill before they are sent to the governor. Included in the bills being sent to conference are most of the revenue and appropriations bills from both the House and Senate, which will decide the state’s budget.
Several bills were passed concurring with changes made in the Senate, including House Bill 852, which came through the House earlier this session. The bill will provide $1,000 raises for teachers and teacher’s assistants in Mississippi public schools. HB 852 will now be sent to the governor for his signature.
Last week, both Medicaid technical bills died on the calendar in each house. The Senate and House passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 535 on Tuesday afternoon suspending the rules and resurrecting both bills (HB 1008 and SB 2799). House Bill 1008 came back before the House, and the bill has been sent to conference.
Shortly after raising the newly designed state flag, the cast iron flag pole that bore our state flag for over 100 years collapsed. Gratefully no one was injured in the fall. Grounds took down the other flag pole shortly after out of caution.
Weeks of March 22-April 1, 2021
During the twelfth week of the 2021 Legislative Session, a majority of bills have either been sent to the governor to be signed or are being discussed in conference.
Conference on a bill occurs when further discussion is needed to reach the best solution. A conference consists of three representatives and three senators who work together to finalize a bill. Most of the bills in conference at this point in the session deal with the state budget. Once a bill is out of conference, it must go to both the House and Senate for a vote before being sent to the governor.
Along with holding conferences all week, the House did meet to discuss and pass local and private bills, suffrage bills and resolutions. The House also brought up and voted on several conference reports that have already been filed.
The deadline for bills to come out of conference and pass in both houses occurs next week. As a result, legislators remained in Jackson to work through the weekend.
During the thirteenth and final week of the 2021 Legislative Session, legislators finalized the state budget and wrapped up the session on Thursday, April 1.
While many significant pieces of legislation did not make it through the process this year, several did and will now be signed into law by the governor.
The $6 billion state budget, completed in the last few days of the session, included an increase of $102 million to the Department of Education. This brings the Education budget to $2.3 billion, which includes teacher pay raises of $1,000 each and a total of $16 million going to pre-school education.
The Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act will elevate the level of care for female inmates by limiting use of restraints on 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 Mississippi Computer Science and Cyber Education Equality Act requires the Department of Education to implement a computer science curriculum in all K-12 public schools. Currently, more than half of Mississippi high schools do not teach a computer science course.
Mississippians will be able to purchase pseudoephedrine and ephedrine now from pharmacies without a prescription.
Licensed retailers around the state will now be able to apply for a delivery service permit for the purpose of delivering alcohol to consumers.
Veterans are now authorized to establish proof of military service for a Veteran Driver’s License Designation in person at DPS driver’s license stations across the state.
Under Christian’s Law, photographs and recordings of autopsies around the state will remain confidential. The law is named for Christian Andreacchio, a Meridian-native who passed away in 2014.
Mississippi schools are now required to designate sports teams based on biological sex.
Proposed legislation that did not make it through the bill-making process included the Mississippi Tax Freedom Act, the privatization of liquor sales in the state, the repeal of certain occupational licenses for workers including wigologists and art therapists and a bill allowing nurse practitioners to practice primary care without a collaboration with a licensed physician.
The House adjourned sine die on Thursday, three days before the April 4 deadline. This concluded the 2021 Legislative Session, which was the second session in the four-year term.