State Politics

What’s alive, what’s dead: What bills made it out of committee this year

AP

Thousands of bills — dealing with everything from beer to equal pay to venomous snakes and Child Protective Services — were filed in the Mississippi legislature this term.

Most bills not voted out of committee by Tuesday night are dead for this session.

Here are a few that we’ve been following:

Alive

“Blue Lives Matter” bill: SB 2469, authored by Sen. Sean Tindell, R-Gulfport, would enhance penalties under the state’s hate-crimes law for anyone targeting for injury law enforcement officers, firefighters or emergency medical technicians.

Campaign finance: HB479 would require politicians to disclose details of how they spend campaign donations using credit cards and would put new limits on what campaign donations can be used for.

Domestic violence as grounds for divorce: A similar bill, to add domestic violence as a 13th reason for divorce in Mississippi, died last year when lawmakers attempted to add an amendment with a 14th reason: continued separation. This session, SB2703, co-authored by Sen. Brice Wiggins, R-Pascagoula, and Sen. Sally Doty, R-Brookhaven, remains alive. A separate bill adding separation as a 14th ground for divorce, SB2483, authored by Sen. Sean Tindell, R-Gulfport, also remains alive.

Early voting: HB228 would create a two-week early voting period without penalty. Current law only allows early, absentee voting, if the state resident will be out of town on election day.

Keep BP money on the Coast: The bill would create a special fund to keep BP damages money separate from tax dollars, passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Limit power of attorney general: HB555 would require the attorney general — currently the only Democrat statewide elected official in Mississippi — to seek permission from the governor, lieutenant governor and secretary of state before filing any lawsuit with an award greater than $250,000. The bill originally failed 58-60 but passed after it was held for a second round of House debate.

Sell beer at breweries: HB1322 would allow craft breweries to sell their own beer on-site. Under current law, these breweries can sell tours that include samples but cannot actually sell their own brews in the same location they are made. The measure would affect several breweries on the Coast.

Youth Court and Child Protection Services-related bills: Both chambers of the legislature took up a variety of bills in response to the Sun Herald’s Fostering Secrets series. Not all passed, but several did. HB1210, authored by Rep. Richard Bennett, R-Long Beach, and Rep. Timmy Ladner, R-Poplarville, along with Rep. Deborah Dixon, and SB2520, co-authored by Sen. Angela Hill, R-Picayune, and Sen. Sean Tindell, R-Gulfport, would require youth courts to provide copies of child-welfare case records to the child’s parent or guardian. HB1211, also by Bennett, would change the way youth court prosecutors are chosen.

Dead

Abolish the Mississippi Arts Commission: Two bills, SB 2611 and HB 1325, would have disbanded the commission and folded it under the Mississippi Development Authority, giving the governor the power to appoint an advisory committee.

Equal pay for women: Several bills introduced this term would have required employers to pay women equal to men for the same work. All died on Tuesday.

Medical marijuana pilot program: HB 179, which would have created a pilot program to allow the use of marijuana for certain patients with debilitating medical conditions, did not make it out of committee. HB180, to authorize the growing and handling of industrial hemp, also died.

Require universities to fly state flag: SB2057 would have required government entities that receive state funds and public colleges and universities to display the official state flag. Mississippi universities have, over the past couple years, taken down the state flag and no university in the state continues to fly the banner. Several other flag-related bills in both chambers would have redesigned the state flag, established a commission to redesign the state flag, put the matter to a statewide referendum and added a second design. None passed out of committee.

Youth Court and Child Protection Services-related bills: Though many bills in this area are still alive, others died in committee. HB1233, authored by Rep. Richard Bennett, R-Long Beach, would have given media access to youth court records in any case where a child abuse or neglect allegation has been made with identifying information concerning the child redacted. HB844 would have required anyone reporting abuse to confidentially provide the agency with their name, address and telephone number.

Regina Zilbermints: 228-896-2340, @RZilbermints

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