Military licensing freedom, regulatory change, criminal justice reform highlight session

By Aaron Rice
June 23, 2020

As the on-again, off-again 2020 legislative session winds down, largely with appropriation bills, conference reports, and a potential vote on a new state flag remaining, we did see several bills that cut red tape for businesses and families, make it easier to work, and help ex-offenders re-enter society.

HB 326, sponsored by Rep. Casey Eure, will expand the sales cap for cottage food operators from $20,000 to $35,000 and also remove the restriction on the prohibition of posting pictures of your goodies on Facebook and Instagram. This bill is headed to the governor. 

HB 658, sponsored by Rep. Noah Sanford, will update the state’s expungement law to allow individuals with multiple convictions for drug offenses to apply for expungement. Right now, only one offense is eligible for expungement. This is in conference. 

HB 838, sponsored by Rep. Nick Bain, will allow individuals leaving state prisons to use MDOC documents as qualifying papers to obtain a driver’s license. For ex-offenders to land gainful employment, they generally need a driver’s license. Something that has been a hinderance. This will make that process easier by allowing MDOC documents in lieu of a birth certificate or social security card. This is in conference.

HB 1024, sponsored by Bain, will make various reforms to Mississippi’s “three strikes” habitual offender law for nonviolent drug offenses. It prevents offenses from more than 15 years ago counting toward the enhancement and prevents nonviolent offenses from triggering a life sentence. This is in conference.

HB 1104, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Turner, will give the Occupational Licensing Review Commission the ability to do a review of an existing regulations to determine whether it increases economic opportunities for citizens by promoting competition and uses the least restrictive regulation to protect consumers. Right now, the OLRC, which is comprised of the governor, attorney general and secretary of state, is limited to review only new regulations. This bill is headed to the governor. 

HB 1295, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Crawford, will prohibit abortions from taking place because of the preborn child’s race, sex, or disability. The Life Equality Act will require the Department of Health to create a documentation process that all those performing abortions would need to follow prior to the abortion. The law authorizes the attorney general to bring enforcement action against those who perform abortion and do not follow the law. This will be returned to the House for concurrence. 

HB 1336, sponsored by Rep. Kent McCarty, is innovative Learn to Earn legislation will expand upon alternative learning opportunities for students in Mississippi. With this program, high school students are able to work toward earning an occupational license while still in school. This bill is headed to the governor. 

HB 1476, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Horan, will make inmates with certain medical conditions eligible for parole. This is in conference.

SB 2112, sponsored by Sen. Tammy Witherspoon, is the ‘Ban The Box Act,’ which will prohibit public employers from using criminal history as a preliminary bar for employment. This is in conference.

SB 2117, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Younger, will provide universal recognition of occupational licenses for military families. Military families that move to Mississippi will no longer have to jump through new government hoops to acquire an occupational license. This bill is headed to the governor. 

SB 2123, sponsored by Sen. Juan Barnett, will allow the Parole Board to consider individuals after they have served 25 percent of their sentence for a nonviolent offense and 50 percent for a violent offense. This is in conference. 

SB 2759, sponsored by Sen. John Horhn, will update the state’s Fresh Start Act, initially adopted last year, that prevents occupational licensing boards from denying an individual an occupational license because of a past offense unless the conviction is directly linked to the occupation. This is in conference.  

SB 2830, sponsored by Sen. Josh Harkins, expands Mississippi’s Right-to-Try law. Right-to-Try laws give terminally ill patients and others the ability to try life-saving therapies and medications otherwise caught up in federal red tape. This bill adds victims of a traumatic injury to the list of eligible patients who may take advantage of experimental procedures that have passed FDA safety trials. The bill also adds adult stems cells to the list of approved therapies. This bill is headed to the governor. 


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