At A Glance

2017  Notable Legislation

·       Campaign Finance Reform

o   House members compromised on Senate Bill 2689 by adding language from their own campaign finance reform bill

o   The Senate included a grandfather clause that would exempt campaign accounts created before the bill would go into effect

o   House members included language transferring more authority to the Mississippi Ethics Commission and clarifying situations in which campaign funds would not be allowed for use

·       Capitol Complex Improvement District

o   House Bill 1226 establishes a set area around the Capitol as the Capitol Complex District

o    Beginning in 2018, two percent of state sales taxes collected in Jackson will be diverted to this area to improve infrastructure and appearance

o   The amount of the diversion will be increased to four percent and then six percent over the following two years

o   This area encompasses a number of government buildings as well as the area around Jackson State University and the University of Mississippi Medical Center

·       Back the Badge Act

o   House Bill 645 will double penalties for any crime committed against law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians

·       Sexual Assault Protection Order

o   House Bill 1356 authorizes a court to issue a criminal sexual assault protection order against a defendant upon conviction of rape or sexual assault

o   This is an added measure of protection for rape victims that did not already exist

·       Domestic Violence as Grounds for Divorce

o   Amendment offered to Senate Bill 2680, a bill clarifying alternative relatives that may care for abused and neglected children

o   The amendment clarifies the “habitual cruel and inhuman treatment” divorce statute as including any abusive physical conduct, threatened or attempted, or abusive non-physical conduct such as threats, intimidation, emotional or verbal abuse

·       Rivers McGraw Act

o   House Bill 1089 was introduced in honor of a 21-year-old college student who took his own life after being released from an arrest for substance abuse without his parents’ knowledge

o   The law will create a mental health diversion pilot program for provide access to treatment and counseling

o   Requires police to inform those arrested that they are allowed to call their parents or guardians

·       Death Penalty Options

o   House Bill 638 revises methods by which the death penalty can be carried out

o   In the event that lethal injection or other methods are blocked or appealed by a higher court, the death penalty could be carried out by gas chamber, electrocution or firing squad in that order

·       Ban of Sanctuary Cities

o   Senate Bill 2710 will prohibit the adoption or enactment of sanctuary cities

o   A sanctuary city is loosely defined as a city that welcomes refugees and illegal immigrants

·       Anti-bullying Legislation

o   House Bill 263 clarifies what “bullying or harassing” behavior entails

o   Requires schools to adopt policies to prevent bullying and suicide

·       Health Care Collaborative

o   House Bill 926 authorizes the Board of Trustees of State Institution of Higher Learning (IHL) and the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) to enter into a health care collaborative with other health organizations in the state

o   This was created as a way to make UMMC more competitive and bolster small rural hospitals throughout the state that could benefit from a partnership

State Funding

·       Governor Phil Bryant cut the budget four times this year, resulting in approximately $155 million worth of cuts

·        The Governor has pulled approximately $50 million from the rainy day fund and is authorized to pull another $50 million before June 30, if necessary

·       The total state support budget ended up being $6.04 billion, which is $125 million less than the original legislative budget recommendations for FY18

·       Because of the cuts, most state agencies received budget cuts

·       Agencies that did not receive a budget cut include the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA), the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Child Protection Services and the Department of Corrections

·       The Legislative Budget Office will be coming out with a comprehensive report, including exact numbers and percentage cuts later this week

 

Special Session

·       While a special session was already being considered, it is now certain in order to pass budgets for the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), State Aid roads and the attorney general’s office

·       While a budget has been determined for MAEP, the education funding formula may also be a topic of discussion, but that is not certain

·       Governor Phil Bryant has not yet determined when the special session will be held, but it must occur before the beginning of July to fund these entities

Transportation/Infrastructure

·       The House’s proposal to collect internet sales tax to repair roads and bridges was rejected by the Senate, as was a proposal for a bond bill that would give money to improve infrastructure

·       All 121 present members stood to reject the Senate’s budget proposal for MDOT and demand that transportation funding be reconsidered

·       A solution must be found during a special session or MDOT will essentially go broke