Most of the 366 bills passed by the Mississippi legislature in this year’s session and signed by Gov. Phil Bryant become law on July 1.
Here’s everything of interest that is now law:
Good bills that became law
House Bill 1205 prohibits state agencies from requesting or releasing donor information on charitable groups organized under section 501 of federal tax law. The bill was sponsored by state Rep. Jerry Turner (R-Baldwyn).
HB 1352 is sponsored by state Rep. Jason White (R-West) and is known as the Criminal Justice Reform Act. The bill eliminates 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.
SB 2781, known as Mississippi Fresh Start Act, was sponsored by state Sen. John Polk (R-Hattiesburg). This bill eliminated 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 died for a time in the Senate on March 28, when the first conference report was rejected by the Senate. However, a motion to reconsider kept the bill alive and it was recommitted for further conference. The resulting second compromise was accepted by both chambers on the session’s final day and was signed into law by Gov. Phil Bryant.
SB 2901, known as the Landowner Protection Act, exempts property owners and their employees from civil liability if a third party injures someone else on their property.
The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Josh Harkins (R-Flowood). The version signed by the governor on March 29 allows civil litigation against property owners due to negligence based on the condition of the property or activities on the property where an injury took place. This was a major point of contention during debate over the bill.
HB 1613, also known as the Children’s Promise Act, allows an $8 million income tax credit for donations to charitable organizations that help children in need. The credit would increase the cap on individual tax credits from $1 million to $3 million and create a $5 million business tax credit.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 596 made Mississippi the 15th state to call for a Convention of the States authorized under Article V of the U.S. Constitution. The resolution was approved by the Senate and passed the House on March 27.
For a Convention of the States to occur, 34 state legislatures would have to pass similar resolutions.
Ugly bills that became law
HB 1612 authorized municipalities to create special improvement assessment districts that will 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 will require the approval of 60 percent of property owners in the district.
The Senate amended the bill so it only applies to Jackson (cities with a population of 150,000 or more).
SB 2603 reauthorized motion picture and television production incentives for non-resident employees that expired in 2017. The bill, as originally written, capped incentives to out-of-state production companies at $10 million. This was reduced in conference to $5 million and it was signed by the governor on March 28.
HB 1283 is better known as the “Mississippi School Safety Act of 2019.” Controversially, it requires school districts to develop and conduct an active shooter drill within the first 60 days of the start of each semester.
It also establishes a monitoring center connected with federal data systems with three regional analysts monitoring social media for threats.
The bill also creates a pilot program for six school districts with a curriculum for children in kindergarten through fifth grade with “skills for managing stress and anxiety.” The pilot plan would be federally funded.