A bill that could’ve helped cut regulations and another that would’ve banned public officials from appearing in public service announcements during campaign years were among some of the bills that died on a critical deadline in the Mississippi Legislature Tuesday.
Tuesday was the final day for committees to report on general bills already passed by the opposite chamber. The next deadline is June 17, the last day a general bill passed by the other chamber can receive a floor vote.
As for money bills such as appropriations, the next deadline is June 23, when floor action is required on bills from the other chamber.
Here are some of the impactful general bills and their status after Tuesday’s deadline:
Senate Bill 2658 would increase the charge of animal cruelty to cats and dogs from a misdemeanor to a felony and increase penalties for those convicted of the crime. It passed out of committee onto the House floor Tuesday, where it was amended and passed. The amendment, unrelated to the original purpose of the bill, creates a special fund that will fund and administer shelters for victims of human trafficking. The new special fund would receive $1,000 from each person convicted of a crime involving a minor and a $10 surcharge levied on criminal defendants who post bail.
The Senate can concur with the changes and the bill will head to Gov. Tate Reeves for signature. If they decline concurrence, the bill will go to a conference committee composed of lawmakers from both houses. Both chambers will have to approve the compromise before it makes it to the governor’s desk for signature.
House Bill 1104 would give the Occupational Licensing Review Commission the ability to do a review of an existing regulation 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 of only new regulations. The Senate Accountability, Efficiency and Transparency Committee approved the bill for a floor vote.
The Senate version, SB 2790, was passed by the House Accountability, Efficiency and Transparency Committee. A compromise between the two similar bills will have to be reached before one can reach the governor’s desk for signature.
HB 1295, also known as The Life Equality Act, would prohibit abortion for the reasons of race, sex or genetic abnormality except in the case of a medical emergency. Physicians would also have to report the reason for an abortion. It was passed by the Senate Judiciary B Committee and is awaiting a floor vote.
SB 2725 is known as the Hemp Cultivation Act, would allow the cultivation, processing, transportation and handling of hemp under strict guidelines. The bill was passed by the House Agriculture Committee. The almost identical House version, HB 1208, was allowed to die in the Senate after being double referred.
SB 2847 would extend the deadline to 2024 for the Mississippi Development Authority to approve projects under the Tourism Project Incentive Program, which allows a portion of the sales tax collected at a tourism attraction to be rebated to the developer to cover construction costs. It passed unanimously in the Senate and was passed by the House Ways and Means Committee.
HB 1212 would increase the license requirements for real estate brokers from 12 months to 36 months. A similar bill was adopted by the legislature in 2018, only to be vetoed by then-Gov. Phil Bryant. As Bryant said, this is an overburdensome barrier to market entry that does not use the least restrictive means necessary, as state law requires. The bill was passed by the Senate Business and Financial Institutions Committee on June 1.
SB 2552 would remove the prohibition on the amount of beer that can be sold directly to consumers at craft breweries. Right now, brewers are limited to selling either 10 percent of the beer produced there or 1,500 barrels, whichever is the lesser amount and this bill would eliminate this provision. The House Ways and Means Committee approved the bill and it is headed to the House floor for a possible vote.
SB 2053 would’ve prohibited public officials from appearing in public service announcements during a campaign year and would’ve prohibited state agencies from sponsoring events put on by a lobbyist or their clients. The bill died in the Senate Accountability, Efficiency, Transparency Committee
HB 1422 would’ve created a pilot program to reduce state regulations at four agencies: Mississippi Departments of Health, Transportation, Agriculture and Commerce, and Information Technology Services. The Senate Accountability, Efficiency, Transparency Committee let the bill die.
SB 2351 was a bill that would’ve required the state-chartered Mississippi High School Activities Association — which governs public school athletics and activities in the state — to comply with the state’s Open Meetings Act. Sen. Angela Hill (R-Picayune), along with Sens. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville) and Melanie Sojourner (R-Natchez) attached an amendmentthat would prohibit public school districts from having to join and pay membership dues to the MHSAA or any other sanctioning body that allowed biological males to compete against biological females in sports. The bill died in the House Education Committee.
HB 1200, known as the Forming Open and Robust University Minds (FORUM) Act, would’ve permitted all forms of peaceful assembly, protests, speeches, guest speakers, distribution of literature, carrying signs, and circulating petitions on campuses of the state’s universities and community colleges. The bill died in the Senate after being double referred to two committees.
HB 1398 was a civil asset forfeiture bill that would’ve ended a practice where law enforcement or prosecutors could request a property owner to waive their rights to their property, often in exchange for charges to be dropped. The new language in the bill will also change the burden of proof for forfeiture to clear and convincing evidence. The bill died in the Judiciary B Committee in the Senate.
HB 1510 would’ve required the state to recognize an occupational license from another state for military families who move to Mississippi. It passed the House unanimously, but died in the Senate after being double referred.
HB 4 would’ve increased the number of package store permits one could own under present law from one to three. It was killed by the Senate Judiciary B Committee.
HB 158, the Sexual Assault Response for College Students Act, would’ve codified into state law some of the federal regulations from a superseded Obama administration “Dear Colleague” guidance letter that would’ve been problematic for those accused in campus sexual assault cases. The Trump administration has issued different guidance on this issue that preserves the rights of the accused.
The bill was killed after being double referred to the Senate Universities and Colleges and Judiciary B committees.