The Mississippi legislature reached yet another important deadline on Tuesday night. At 8:00 p.m. it was the deadline for all original action on bills originating in the opposite chamber.
That means many bills didn’t survive to see Wednesday.
When it comes to education, it looks like there will be no extension to the Education Scholarship Program (ESA). Senate bill 2675 was initially passed in the Senate but Rep. Bennett let it die in his committee before the deadline. Bennett said he had concerns with the program and thinks it would be better to wait to vote on it until after the November election.
The bill would have extended the scholarship program until 2024. It currently financially assists with the education of around 430 students with a waiting list of over 200.
However, things aren’t looking as gloomy for a pay raise for teachers. SB 2770, passed out of its double referred committees. First from Education and then from Appropriations.
The bill would provide a $1,000 pay raise for teachers over the next two years. An amendment was offered in the Appropriations Committee by Rep. Steve Holland to increase that number to $4,000, but it did not pass.
Both “Heartbeat Bills” are still alive in the House and Senate. The Senate Public Health passed HB 732, but not before adding a strike all amendment, just as the House did to the Senate’s version of the bill, SB 2116. These strike alls replaced the language from the original bill, with the language from the opposite chamber’s similar bill.
The bills were already quite alike, banning abortions once a heartbeat is detected and requiring a physician to check for one before performing the procedure. This would ultimately put a stop to abortions in the state around the six to eight week mark.
The bills will now head back to the chambers and then go on to Conference.
Early Tuesday morning the Judiciary A committee took up the Human Trafficking Bill, HB 571. They passed the bill out of committee but not without amending it with a strike all to include the language in SB 2305.
The debate is still on when it comes to whether or not an individual under the age of 18 should be able to be charged with prostitution.
The Judiciary A Committee also came back in the afternoon to pass HB 1352, the Criminal Justice Reform Act. This bill would redefine how “drug courts” operate, reassigning them as “intervention courts.” Here a priority will be placed on rehabilitation for those who suffer from substance abuse.
The bill would also create an advisory committee that will create statewide plans and models for monitoring aspects of these courts.
A big win for first responders was the continued movement of SB 2835, the First Responders Act. This bill would ensure that first responders who have been on the job 10 or more years and are then unable to perform their duties based on illness incurred due to the elements they’ve been exposed to, that illness would be classified as an occupational disease.
This legislation will help cover some of the costs of treatments for certain cancers and heart illnesses.
These and plenty of other bills have until March 13 for original floor action in the opposite chamber.