Just a few days left in the legislative session

By Steve Wilson
March 21, 2019

The Mississippi legislature’s session is winding down, with only a few bills left on the calendars for both chambers.

The next deadline for general legislation is March 28, the final day to concur on amendments from the other chamber on general bills.

Here is what’s happening with some of the more interesting bills at this point in the session:

Still alive

Senate Concurrent Resolution 596 would make Mississippi the 15th state to call for a Convention of the States authorized under Article V of the U.S. Constitution. The measure passed the Senate Thursday and will be headed to the House, where passage is likely.

For a Convention of the States to occur, 34 state legislatures would have to pass similar resolutions. All of the states surrounding Mississippi have passed Article V resolutions.

House Bill 1352 is sponsored by state Rep. Jason White (R-West) and is known as the Criminal Justice Reform Act. The bill would clear obstacles for the formerly incarcerated to find work, prevents driver’s license suspensions for controlled substance violations and unpaid legal fees and fines and updates drug court laws to allow for additional types of what are known as problem solving courts.

The bill is headed to a conference committee to forge a compromise between the differences between the original and the altered version that passed the Senate.

House Bill 1205 would prohibit state agencies from requesting or releasing donor information on charitable groups organized under section 501 of federal tax law. The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Jerry Turner (R-Baldwyn), was amended in the Senate to include all organizations covered section 501 of federal tax law and the House has concurred with the changes.

The last step is Gov. Phil Bryant’s signature.

SB 2781, known as Mississippi Fresh Start Act, is sponsored by state Sen. John Polk (R-Hattiesburg). This bill would eliminate the practice of “good character” or “moral turpitude” clauses from occupational licensing regulations, which prohibit ex-felons from receiving an occupational license and starting a new post-incarceration career.

The bill was amended with a strike-all that made it identical to the original House bill. It has been returned to the Senate for concurrence. If the Senate doesn’t agree with the changes, a conference committee will try to come up with a compromise acceptable to both.

SB 2901, known as the Landowner Protection Act, would exempt property owners and their employees from civil liability if a third party injures someone else on their property.

The bill is sponsored by state Sen. Josh Harkins (R-Flowood). The Senate declined to accept the House’s changes to the bill, so the differences will have to be settled in a conference committee.

SB 2603 would reauthorize motion picture and television production incentives for out-of-state firms that expired in 2017. Unlike the previous incentives, both bills would cap them at $10 million.

The bill sponsored by state Sen. Joey Fillingane (R-Sumrall). The bill has been returned to the Senate for concurrence.

HB 1612 would authorize municipalities to create special improvement assessment districts that would be authorized to levy up to 6 mills of property tax (the amount per $1,000 of assessed value of the property) to fund parks, sidewalks, streets, planting, lighting, fountains, security enhancements and even private security services. The tax would require the approval of 60 percent of property owners in the district.

The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Mark Baker (R-Brandon). The Senate amended the bill so it only applies to Jackson (cities with a population of 150,000 or more) and the House concurred with the changes.

It awaits the governor’s signature.

HB 1204 would allow a municipality or county to execute the winning bid in a sealed bidding process if a judge hasn’t ruled on a protection request for bids within 90 days.

The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Turner and is on the governor’s desk waiting for a signature.


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