The Mississippi Legislature is in the final stages of preparing a budget and passing general bills before it leaves town for the end of the session, known as sine die.
This is a Latin phrase that means to adjourn without an appointed date to resume. Before the Legislature can gavel out until it returns in January, here are some of the bills of interest that need some further work:
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.
This bill is headed to conference for a compromise and 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 bill was amended in the Senate and the House concurred with the changes, meaning the bill can be signed into law by the governor.
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. The bill was returned to the House for concurrence.
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 amended in the Senate and the House concurred with the changes, meaning it can be signed into law by the governor.
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. The House declined to concur with the changes made by the Senate and the bill will go to conference.
HB 1212 would increase the license requirements for real estate brokers from 12 months to 36 months. The bill is headed to the governor’s desk, where a veto could be likely. Then-Gov. Phil Bryant vetoed a similar bill in 2018, saying the bill is an overburdensome barrier to market entry that does not use the least restrictive regulations to protect consumers.
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 bill is on the governor’s desk awaiting signature.
Senate Bill 2802 would require electronic prescription on all controlled substances. The House added an amendment that would allow residents to procure up to a 30-day supply of pseudoephedrine- or ephedrine-containing cold and sinus medicines over the counter without a doctor’s prescription. The bill has been sent back to the Senate for concurrence.
Senate Bill 2545 would allow sampling and sale of wines made in the state at public events such as festivals. The winery would have to obtain a permit from the Mississippi Department of Revenue before transporting and selling their wine at a festival or other event. The bill has been returned to the Senate for concurrence after it was amended in the House.
HB 25 would require all courts statewide to use the Mississippi Electronic Court System for all casework. The House agreed with the changes made in the Senate and it is headed to the governor’s desk.