Another deadline day has come and gone at the capitol and there was plenty of action under the dome.
While the House proposal to eliminate the income tax in Mississippi has until March 16th to be taken up by the Senate, plenty of other bills faced a deadline Tuesday to advance out of the committee stage after passing out of the other chamber.
Among the bills that lived to see another day are:
HB 852 – After it initially appeared that the teacher pay raise may fall by the wayside after being lumped into the House income tax proposal, the Senate Education Committee passed this legislation sent over by the House earlier in the session. The House chose not to take up the Senate’s version of the bill.
Each aims to accomplish a similar goal of raising the starting salary for Mississippi teachers up to $37,000—still short of the southeastern average—and providing a $1,000 raise to current teachers. The minimum salary for teacher assistants would also rise to $15,000.
HB 1263 – This bill, according to Empower Mississippi, would allow individuals who move to Mississippi will be able to essentially “transfer” their occupational license from another state if they meet certain requirements and their license is in good standing.
SB 2765 (Sort of) — At the last minute, the House, Ways & Means Committee passed an amended version of the ‘Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act.’ The bill passed the Senate as an alternative to Initiative 65 that would only take effect if the initiative adopted by Mississippi voters in November is struck down by the Mississippi Supreme Court.
Prior to sending it on to the full House, the committee removed the language in the bill and replaced it with Initiative 65’s language.
HB 1231 – This bill to create the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund cleared three Senate committees. Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann had voiced opposition to the plan to create a diversion from the tax on sporting goods to create a $15 million fund to improve state parks. The amended version cleared by the committees removed the diversion.
SB 2536 – ‘The Mississippi Fairness Act’ will head to the House for a vote. The bill would require all public schools or universities in the state to designate their athletic teams or sports according to biological sex and provide protection for those schools.
HB 997 – This bill, passed by the House, would remove the Department of Revenue from its role of warehousing liquor and wine; allowing private businesses to handle the operation—a move that author of the bill Rep. Trey Lamar says would create jobs and lead to economic growth in Mississippi.
HB 633 – This bill would lead to the implementation of a mandatory computer science curriculum in each of Mississippi’s 884 K-12 public and charter schools for all of the state’s 442,627 students. The bill was amended by the Senate Education Committee to include a provision that schools must “implement abstinence-only” or “abstinence-plus” education into their curriculum.
The following criminal justice reform measures supported by Empower Mississippi are also moving along.
SB 2795, filed by Sen. Juan Barnett, and HB 525, filed by Rep. Kevin Horan, which would reform Mississippi’s parole system to give correction officials better gatekeeping tools and bring the system in line with conservative states like Texas.
HB 796, filed by Rep. Nick Bain, would reform Mississippi’s habitual sentencing laws so that a non-violent third offense, such as minor drug possession, cannot result in someone going to prison for life without the possibility of parole. Bain also sponsored HB 551, which would allow those who are released from prison to obtain a driver’s license to drive to work, and HB 196, which would establish various levels of care as it pertains to pregnant women who are incarcerated.
SB 2792, filed by Sen. John Horhn, would prevent licensing boards from using a past offense as reason to deny an occupational license if the offense is not related to the occupation.
Following the deadline, all attention now turns to the income tax proposal that appears to face opposition in the Senate following comments made by Lt. Governor Hosemann late last week.