SuperTalk Mississippi
Featured News Latest News Politics Trending News

Mississippi’s 2024 legislative session is over. Here’s what passed and what didn’t

Inside the state capitol building in Jackson (Photo by SuperTalk Mississippi News)

Mississippi’s extended legislative session has officially come to an end.

Lawmakers on Saturday put the gavel to rest, ending more than four months’ worth of debating over prospective bills and approving a $7.9 billion budget to cover operations statewide.

While some hot-ticket items among voters – including Medicaid expansion, restoring Mississippi’s ballot initiative process, and legalizing mobile sports betting – did not come to fruition this year, the 2024 session was not without action.

In his first term as House Speaker, Republican Jason White made it his mission to do away with the oft-criticized Mississippi Adequate Education Program in favor of a new funding formula for public education. His persistence ultimately led a hesitant Senate to give in and pass the Mississippi Student Funding Formula. The new formula is expected to provide public schools with more money per pupil based on the number of students coming from low-income households, who have special needs, and other factors intended to up the funding for districts with the largest needs.

To complement the historic education funding formula, a pair of bills were passed that will impact classrooms statewide. Senate Bill 2339 allows sign language to count as a foreign language credit within the public school system. In addition, Senate Bill 2695 was sent to the governor to makes driver’s education courses mandatory in public high schools beginning in 2026.

The legislature also took a step in addressing what Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and others consider to be a $25 billion issue with the public employees’ retirement system (PERS). Gov. Tate Reeves has until May 8 to sign Senate Bill 3231 into law. The bill puts a halt to the pending 2% rate increase for PERS employers that was expected in July 2024. Lawmakers intend to adjust the process by which future employer rate increases can be made, allowing a 0.5% increase this summer and each year after through 2028.

Mississippi’s elected officials continued their pursuit to set a hard boundary between biological sex and gender identity. Though legislation that would establish the Securing Areas for Females Effectively and Responsibly (SAFER) Act did not meet a committee deadline, the rules were suspended to allow legislators to send the bill to the governor. The SAFER Act restricts transgender people’s use of bathrooms and locker rooms in public buildings, meaning a transgender person who identifies as female would have to use the men’s restroom.

Medicaid expansion efforts may have proved futile, but a prior authorization bill requiring insurance companies to approve both urgent and non-urgent care within a designated timeframe would require insurers to respond to emergent requests within 48 hours and non-emergent requests within seven working days. Additionally, it will require the process to go through an online web portal in which physicians can request prior authorization and appeal denied applications.

A recurring stream of funding from the legislature to bring roads and bridges statewide up to par, per the request of Mississippi Department of Transportation commissioners, was not approved this session. However, state lawmakers did approve House Bill 1826, sending $1.4 billion to MDOT, with $160 million of those funds going to Lafayette County for additional lanes on Highway 7.

Law enforcement will likely have a more digital-friendly method of issuing and receiving search warrants. Legislators sent House Bill 295 to the governor. If the bill is signed into law, an officer would be able to use an electronic platform to request a search warrant. A judge would then be given the legal ability to use a digital format to mark his or her name on a document permitting law enforcement to search for a certain person, a specified place, or an automobile for criminal evidence.

Legislation that ups death benefits for first responders fallen in action from $100,000 to $250,000 while covering funeral expenses up to $15,000 was passed by officials and praised by Department of Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell. Senate Bill 2487 also authorizes a grant program for enhanced training and safety equipment for agencies across the state.

Mississippi now has a special alert system to raise public awareness about missing individuals with cognitive disabilities. Reeves signed House Bill 873 into law on April 20 creating the Purple Alert as an additional means to aid the search for missing persons with special needs, such as autism and Down syndrome.

Lastly, two new state symbols have been enshrined by lawmakers. With the passage of Senate Bill 2142, the American Quarter Horse is the official state horse of Mississippi and the Kemp’s ridley has become the official state sea turtle.

Stay up to date with all of Mississippi’s latest news by signing up for our free newsletter here

Copyright 2024 SuperTalk Mississippi Media. All rights reserved.

Related posts

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More