CHECK OUT WHAT LAWS GO INTO EFFECT ON JULY 1, 2021.
Dozens of Mississippi laws will go into effect on Thursday, July 1, 2021. Take a look at some of the most talked about bills of the 2021 session and how these new or revised laws could impact you.
Teacher Pay Raise
Probably one of the most talked about bill that passed from the House of Representatives was a raise for teachers and teaching assistants. HB 852, which had a nearly identical companion bill in the Senate, provided for a $1,000 raise for teachers at the start of the 2021-2022 school year and $1,100 for assistant teachers.
A teacher pay raise was on everyone’s mind entering the 2021 session and COVID-19 made it particularly important to lawmakers to see these funds diverted to teachers. In total, the raise made up an additional $50 million to education in the FY2022 budget.
Occupational Licensing Recognition
Workers in Mississippi and those who would like to come to the state but are licensed in other states, just got a helping hand. HB 1263, authored by Rep. Becky Currie, instated the Universal Recognition of Occupational Licensing Act. This bill allows individuals who work in other states and have a license that is in good standing with that agency to transfer for work to Mississippi with no additional loopholes.
Just days before going into law, Governor Tate Reeves commented that this bill would allow workforce development to continue and labor shortages from the pandemic to decrease. He also said that it will reduce the red tape many professionals have to go through in order to work in Mississippi. That will include teachers coming from out of state to work here.
Planning to run for office in Mississippi? Well, take note of this bill lawmakers passed this session. HB 1048 effectively changes the qualification deadline to February 1 for some statewide, state district, county and county district offices.
Previously the deadline was not until March 1. This will bump the decision up for candidates considering a run for elected office by one month.
Mississippi’s budget was set during the 2021 session. The bills that pertain to appropriations for state agencies and such will all go into effect July 1, 2021. This marks the start of a new fiscal year in the state.
Many Mississippians have been pushing for more accessible ways to get their alcohol. The Legislature listened with HB 1135. This bill will allow the delivery of a particular wine, spirit or beer from a licensed retailer to a consumer. The retailer must also have a delivery service permit to participate in this service.
Those delivering can be current employees or contracted individuals who are at least 21 years old and receive proper training consistent with current programs. To place an order, you must be at least 21 years old.
Executive Sessions for Public Bodies
Speaker of the House Philip Gunn authored a bill, HB 1323, that will allow any public body to enter into executive session in order to develop a strategic plan to combat, eliminate, reduce or respond to human trafficking or the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
The reason these meetings would be necessary is to address a particular trafficking issue and attempt to provide an immediate solution.
Over in the Senate, many lawmakers set their sights on improving education as well as helping the Mississippi Department of Education operate in unprecedented times.
SB 2149, which was authored by Sen. Dennis DeBar, provided that typical daily attendance rolls would not count against schools from the 2020-2021 school year.
Mississippi’s MAEP funding formula is calculated in part by daily attendance. Due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic and virtual learning, daily attendance was unpredictable and, for many schools, impossible in-person during portions of the last year
Teacher License Reciprocity
Similar to the removal of red tape for all occupational licensing, SB 2267 will allow reciprocity for teachers.
This bill will apply to any teacher coming from another state who already possess a teacher license and can pass a background check. Under the law, the Department of Education can grant a one-year extension to June 2022 to allow for that teacher to meet requirements in Mississippi.
The bill also implements the creation of a licensing and certification committee that will assist in streamlining the process for teacher certification in the state.
Earned Parole Eligibility
Possibly one of the most talked about pieces of legislation in general this year centered around the criminal justice system in Mississippi. SB 2795, or the Earned Parole Eligibility Act, was offered by Sen. Juan Barnett. He brought forward a similar bill in 2020 but it was vetoed by Governor Reeves.
Barnett said he took those critiques and perfected the language in order to have an agreement.
The Earned Parole Eligibility Act allows for particular non-violent, and some violent offenders, to be eligible for parole after a certain amount of their sentence has been served. The hesitation in 2020 centered around murderers being considered in the eligibility category, a move Barnet said was removed in the 2021 bill.
Those not eligible include sex offenders, human traffickers, murderers, capitol, and habitual offenders. It is important to note that the bill does not grant any offenders parole; it only allows the possibility of parole in the event the individual has met the proper criteria for consideration.
The bill passed in both chambers and was later signed into law by Governor Reeves.
Medicaid Tech Bill
Every three years lawmakers are tasked with reconfiguring the guidelines for the Mississippi Division of Medicaid. This year it almost looked as if lawmakers would leave the 2021 session without a Medicaid Tech bill. However, at the final hour they were able to come to an agreement on the program with SB 2799.
Though some attempts were made to remove the Division of Medicaid from under the Governor’s office, it remained housed there in the 2021 legislation. But the House did remove language that would have provided 12 months of postpartum care for mothers who receive the benefits.
Sen. Kevin Blackwell, Chairman of Medicaid, said the final bill included a 5% reimbursement for some providers, restored crossover claims for hospitals, nursing home and immediate care facility reimbursement days, and provided an additional 5% bump for dentists in 2022-2024 to cover preventative services.
Dept. of Public Safety
Many changes were made in regard to law enforcement and the Department of Public Safety. Perhaps the largest of note was the transfer of the Capitol Police from the Department of Finance and Administration to the Department of Public Safety. The law came by way of SB 2434.
The duties and abilities of the Capitol Police did not change with the bill, only the overseeing agency. The bill was offered by Sen. Brice Wiggins, Sen. Angela Hill and Sen. John Horhn.
Capitol Police monitor the Capitol Complex in Jackson.
Mississippi Fairness Act
Mississippi gained national attention with the passage of SB 2536, entitled the Fairness Act. The legislation, offered by Sen. Angela Hill, would prevent biologically male individuals from competing in female sports. This law will apply to K-12 schools as well as institutions of higher learning.
When defending her bill to those who claimed it was “non-inclusive to transgendered athletes,” Hill said those who were born physically a male have an advantage over female athletes simply due to genetics.
The bill was up in the air until the last minutes of the session when it was passed. Sen. Hill said the legislation was necessary in order to protect girls sports in the state under the current federal position toward transgendered persons competing among athletes that do not share their at-birth genetic makeup.
Name, Image, Likeness
Another bill that could impact Mississippi athletes is SB 2313. This bill will allow Mississippi collegiate athletes to receive compensation if their image, name or likeness is used in advertising.
Mississippi lawmakers believe passing this legislation will keep Mississippi schools competitive in the event the U.S. Supreme Court rules in current court cases to allow for the compensation.
Senator Jennifer Branning presented SB 2825, the Mississippi Infrastructure Act of 2021 which tackled several road, bridge and transportation issues the state faces.
Probably the most considerable change was that of the harvest weight limits being raised from 84,000 pounds to 88,000 pounds. The bill goes into effect July 1, 2021, but the harvest permit increase does not take effect until July 1, 2023. These weight limits would only apply to commercial truckers carrying a harvest permit.
The bill was argued by many in the Senate as it moved through the process.
While this story only highlights some of the more impactful bills going into effect on July 1, you can access information on all bills passed from the 2021 session, and when they will take effect you can visit the Mississippi Legislature’s website HERE.
Lawmakers will officially head back to the Capitol in January for the 2022 session.