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Notable new laws take effect as calendar turns to July

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The Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson (Photo by SuperTalk Mississippi News)

As the calendar turns to July, countless new laws will officially take effect following their passage by the Mississippi Legislature during the 2021 session. Below you’ll find some of the more notable pieces of legislation that were signed into law by the governor.

License Reciprocity:

Authored by Rep. Becky Currie, the ‘Universal Recognition of Occupational Licenses Act’ makes it easier for anyone whose career requires a license to move to Mississippi and get to work by requiring the state to recognize occupational licenses obtained in another state as long as that individual is in good standing with that state. 

During a press conference Monday, Governor Tate Reeves described the bill as a “loss for government bureaucracy & red tape, but it is a win for Mississippi’s economy.”

HB 1263 builds on legislation passed in 2020 that ensured universal license recognition for military families. 

Mississippi Earned Parole Eligibility Act:

Authored by Senator Juan Barnett, this bill expands parole eligibility to non-violent offenders that have served 25% of their sentence and a small group of violent offenders at 50%. This does not include those convicted of murder, sex crimes or human trafficking.

The new law does not automatically release any prisoners, but simply allows the parole board to hear more cases. Mississippi currently has the second-highest incarceration rate in the nation.

Home Alcohol Delivery:

With the passage of HB 1135, lawmakers okayed the delivery of beer, wine and liquor to Mississippians over the age of 21. Customers will be required to verify their age and show ID when the product is delivered. 

Deliveries will be prohibited before 10:00 a.m. and after 10:00 p.m. as well as on Sundays and Christmas Day. Deliveries must be within 30 miles of the retailer’s location and cannot be made within dry counties or cities.

Teacher Pay Raise:

Passed early on in the 2021 session, the bill provides a $1,000 raise to current teachers while also raising the starting salary for Mississippi teachers to $37,000. The bill will also raise the salary of teacher assistants to $15,000.

Mississippi Computer Science and Cyber Education Equality Act:

With backing from C Spire, the ‘Mississippi Computer Science and Cyber Education Equality Act’ will lead to the implementation of the curriculum in all 884 K-12 public and charter schools by 2025. 

NIL Law :

Before the NCAA waived bylaws that now allow individual schools to enact their own name, image and likeness regulations in the absence of state laws, Mississippi was proactive in passing legislation allowing its student-athletes to cash in on their NIL. 

The NCAA hoped for Congressional action ahead of July 1st, but had no such luck. 

The bill does have language that attempts to limit the possibility of recruiting violations including lines that state “no student-athlete may earn compensation in exchange for the student-athlete’s athletic ability or participation in intercollegiate athletics or sports competition.” Additionally, a student-athlete cannot enter into an NIL agreement until they are enrolled at a university. 

Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act:

This criminal justice reform measure limits the use of restraints on inmates giving birth, provides certain care and consideration for pregnant and postpartum inmates, provides female hygiene items for inmates determined to be indigent, and places incarcerated mothers within a specified distance to their minor children.

Mississippi Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2021: 

Among other outcomes, this bill brings the MDOT’s law enforcement units under the umbrella of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. DPS will assume MDOT’s $16 million law enforcement budget and 234 full-time employees. In addition, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety will create a new commercial trucking enforcement division. 

Mississippi Fairness Act: 

Authored by Senator Angela Hill, the legislation bars biological men from competing in women’s sports in the state of Mississippi. While signing the bill back in early March, the governor explained his belief that the participation of transgender athletes presents an unfair challenge to biological girls who wish to join sports teams.

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