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Recap: 2021 Mississippi Legislative Session comes to a close

Mississippi Capitol Building

The swing of the gavel has brought an end to the 2021 Mississippi Legislative Session that saw the passage of several key pieces of legislation. Among the bills that passed both chambers at the capitol include: 

Teacher Pay Raise: Signed by the governor, 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.

License Reciprocity: Aimed at making it easier to move to and work in Mississippi, HB 1263 requires Mississippi to recognize occupational licenses obtained in another state as long as that individual is in good standing with that state. 

Mississippi Earned Parole Eligibility Act: Authored by Senator Juan Barnett, the goal of the bill is to incentivize good behavior with the possibility of parole for non-violent offenders at 25% of their sentence and a small selection of violent offenders at 50%. 

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. 

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. 

Medicaid Tech Bill: While bills to reaffirm the Mississippi Division of Medicaid for the next four years died earlier in the session, lawmakers were able to bring them back to life and come to an agreement that keeps the division under the direction of the governor’s office. 

Not all of the bills that were being watched closely were passed by the legislature. Some that didn’t quite make it to the end include: 

Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund: Initially passed by the House and heavily alerted by the Senate, lawmakers couldn’t come to an agreement on a funding source for the fund that would’ve aided the state’s outdoor conservation efforts. 

Income Tax Elimination: The proposal, authored by Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, would’ve eliminated the state income tax over a 10-year period. Concerns over the raising of the state sales tax and taxes on other goods held the bill up in the Senate, which wanted more time to study the proposal. 

Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act: The act was the Senate’s attempt at a backup plan should the Mississippi Supreme Court strike down Initiative 65—the medical marijuana program adopted by voters in November that is currently being challenged by the city of Madison. 

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