Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed into law a bill Thursday that requires schools to designate sports teams for either one biological sex with the exception of co-ed teams.
Senate Bill 2536, also known as the Mississippi Fairness Act, was authored by state Sen. Angela Hill, R-Picayune. It was passed by the House by an 81-28 margin on March 3.
Reeves said the bill was designed to protect young girls and ensure them a fair shot in public school sports.
It was the third attempt by Hill to get a procedure codified in Mississippi, which was one of 10 states without a policy of this type. The bill takes effect on July 1.
Reeves also mentioned President Joe Biden’s executive order, issued on January 20, that expands prohibited forms of sex discrimination under Title IX to include discrimination for gender identity and sexual orientation as a reasoning for the bill.
Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funds.
The deadline is quickly moving to its sine die (adjourn without a set date for reconvening) date of April 4. The next deadline on the general bill calendar is March 29, when conference reports must be filed.
As for the finance bill calendar, the next deadline is March 16, when appropriations and revenue bills from the other chamber must receive a floor vote.
Here are some of the more interesting bills that are still alive:
House Bill 997 authored by state Rep. Trey Lamar, R-Senatobia, would end the practice of the state being the wholesale distributor for wine and spirits and govern the issuance of wholesaler permits. It passed the House 104-3 on February 3 and was amended with a strike-all in the Senate Finance Committee that keeps the state as the wholesale distributor of wine and spirits. The Senate passed the bill unanimously on Wednesday, but a compromise will be required before the bill can make it to the governor’s desk.
SB 2806 is a placeholder bill that brings forward code sections related to the Alcohol Beverage Control division of the state Department of Revenue. The bill would also allow the DOR to contract for a vendor to take over management and operation of the state’s alcohol warehouse. By including code sections in the bill, it gives lawmakers more time to work on the issue.
State Sen. Josh Harkins, R-Flowood authored the bill. The House Ways and Means Committee rewrote the bill with a strike-all to make it identical to HB 997 and the bill passed the House 107-9.
HB 1439, the Mississippi Tax Freedom Act, would set new deductions for both individuals ($47,700) and married couples ($95,400). The implementation of these exemptions would be phased in over time and tied to state revenues in the general fund and the rate of inflation. Once fully implemented, all income up to these levels would no longer be subject to the state’s income tax.
The bill is sponsored by House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton and passed the House by an 85-34 margin on February 23. It has been assigned to the Finance Committee in the Senate.
HB 72 would provide immunity for dentists providing charitable and emergency services. This bill passed the Senate by a 50-2 margin and is headed to the governor for signature.
HB 1302 would allow optometrists to provide care to patients commensurate with their training and experience, including prescribing certain drugs. The legislation was sponsored by state Rep. Jason White, R-West, and passed the House by a 90-25 vote on February 3. The House concurred in the amendment from the Senate and the bill will be headed to the governor’s desk for signature.
HB 1263 would allow reciprocity for holders of occupational licenses from other states who move to Mississippi if they meet certain requirements and their license is valid and in good standing. It was sponsored by state Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, and passed the Senate on Tuesday on a 51-1 margin.
SB 2119 is sponsored by state Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall and would allow the sale of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine without a prescription. The bill was passed by the House by a 117-3 margin on Tuesday. The amended bill has been returned to the Senate for concurrence. If the Senate agrees with the changes, it will head to the governor’s desk for a signature. If not, a conference committee will try to reach a compromise acceptable to both chambers.
SB 2804 would the retail delivery of alcoholic beverages from a licensed retailer to a consumer. The bill was authored by state Sen. Josh Harkins, R-Flowood and the bill passed the Senate by a 46-6 margin on February 11. The bill was passed by the House on Monday on a 96-23 margin.
HB 1135 is a similar bill sponsored by Lamar and amended to resemble the SB 2804. It was passed on Tuesday by the Senate by a 41-8 margin and has been returned to the House for concurrence.
SB 2788 is sponsored by state Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson and would require municipal law enforcement to inform the state Highway Safety Patrol of any road blockages or emergencies on interstates in city limits. It was passed by the House on Tuesday by a 117-2 margin and is headed to the governor’s desk.
Dead as a clichéd doornail
SB 2765, was known as the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act and was authored by state Sen. Kevin Blackwell, R-Southaven. This bill would’ve created a medical marijuana program extremely similar to the one that will be created by Initiative 65, but the bill failed in the House on a point of order. HB 119, which would extend the repealer on the ability to research and dispense cannabidol (CBD oil) and is known as Harper Grace’s Law, was amended by the Senate to resemble SB 2765. The Senate passed the amended bill on a 26-16 margin, but the House will likely reject the changes.
HB 1030 was known as the Mississippi Intercollegiate Athletics Compensation Rights Act. It would’ve provided that student athletes might earn compensation for name or likeness rights and obtain a certified agent strictly for that compensation. These student athletes wouldn’t be eligible for compensation based on their participation. The bill is authored by state Rep. Mac Huddleston, R-Pontotoc and died on the Senate calendar without a floor vote.
HB 942 would’ve allowed Entergy and Mississippi Power to use their power delivery infrastructure to get broadband service to unserved or underserved areas by leasing it to broadband providers. The bill died on the Senate calendar without a floor vote.