Mississippi Initiative proposal survives Capitol deadline
JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — Mississippi lawmakers have narrowed the list of issues they will consider, with two months remaining in their three-month session. Tuesday was the first major deadline of the session, during which House and Senate committees pass or throw out general bills tabled in their own chambers. There are later deadlines for auditing tax and budget accounts.
Bills that survive in committee are sent to the full House or Senate for further debate. Here is the status of some invoices:
BALLOT INITIATIVES – Senate Bill 2638 would reinstate a process for people to spread petitions to put issues on the statewide vote. Mississippi had an initiative process for decades, but the state Supreme Court ruled in 2021 that the process was invalid because it required an equal number of signatures from five congressional districts and the state had declined to four districts after the 2000 census.
JACKSON WATER — Senate Bill 2889, by Olive Branch Republican Senator David Parker, proposes an eventual transfer of water services provided by Jackson, a Democratic-run city, to “ownership, management and control” of a new regional entity. Parker said Jackson’s water problems reflect poorly on Mississippi and could hamper economic development. Ted Henifin, the federally appointed interim manager of Jackson’s water system, told The Associated Press that he believes the bill may be motivated by state officials’ desire to gain access to federal funds earmarked for Jackson’s water. Gulfport Republican Sen. Joel Carter’s Senate Bill 2338 would require utilities to bill customers based on the amount of water they use — banning a new tariff structure proposed by Henifin that would use water based on property values is calculated.
CAPITOL COMPLEX COURT — Senatobia Republican Rep. Trey Lamar’s House Bill 1020 would create a separate court system run by unelected judges in an area of Jackson where many state buildings are located. The borough’s boundaries would also be extended to a larger portion of the city. Rather than being selected by townspeople or elected officials, justices would be appointed by the Chief Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court and prosecutors would be appointed by the Attorney General. The bill would give the courts jurisdiction over cases to which the state government is a party. The law met with strong opposition from local attorneys and city officials, with Jackson’s Democratic mayor comparing it to apartheid.
POST-BIRTH DRUG INSURANCE – Bipartisan Senate bill 2212 would allow Medicaid coverage to be extended from 60 days to a year after a woman gives birth. A similar bill passed the Senate last year but died in the House of Representatives after Speaker Philip Gunn opposed it.
TRANSGENDER YOUTH – House Bill 1125 would restrict access to health care for transgender youth by prohibiting gender-specific care. The bill has passed the House of Representatives and a Senate committee.
ARM TEACHERS – House Bill 532 and Senate Bill 2079 would allow some school staff to carry concealed firearms. Staff could use weapons to respond to an active shooter or “a situation which would cause death or personal injury” on school property. The bills would require employees to hold gun licenses and undergo gun-handling training.
Vaccination Exemption – Senate Bill 2767, by Picayune Republican Angela Hill, would have created a new religious exemption from any immunization requirements for schoolchildren. Mississippi does not require a COVID-19 vaccine. This bill should have applied to the five vaccines the state currently requires: measles, diphtheria, chickenpox, polio and hepatitis B. All 50 states require certain vaccines for college students, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Hill said Mississippi should join 44 other states and Washington DC in allowing a religious exemption.
RESTORATION OF VOTING RIGHTS — House Bill 342 by Democratic Rep. Jeffery Harness of Fayette would have automatically restored voting rights to any person serving a conviction for a disenfranchising crime. The current process for restoring voting rights is for an individual to seek permission from the state legislature and the governor, and few individuals have received that permission in recent years.
PREGNANT WORKERS – Senate Bill 2114 by West Point Senator Angela Turner Ford would have required employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for pregnant workers or workers recovering from childbirth, such as B. more frequent breaks, temporary transfer to a less strenuous area or dangerous position, or space outside the bathroom for expressing breast milk.
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