JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Here’s a glance at the status of selected bills in the Mississippi Legislature. Thursday (2/14) was the deadline for the House and Senate to act on general bills filed in their own chamber. Surviving bills move to the opposite chamber for more work. There are separate deadlines for budget and revenue bills.
CHARTER SCHOOLS – House Bill 369 and Senate Bill 2189 would broaden the legal authority to create charter schools in Mississippi and set up a new board to oversee such schools. Charter schools are public schools that agree to meet certain standards in exchange for freedom from regulations.
PRE-KINDERGARTEN – House Bill 781 and Senate Bill 2395 would set up a program for the state to fund prekindergarten classes. Local communities would set up consortiums that would have to match state money.
MANDATORY KINDERGARTEN ATTENDANCE- House Bill 779 says enrollment in kindergarten would still be optional, but any child who is enrolled would be required to meet the same attendance requirements as children in higher grades. Lawmakers said this is intended to ensure that parents don’t send children to kindergarten only part-time or only when they feel like it.
SCHOOL CONSOLIDATION – Senate Bill 2637 would force the consolidation of the Starkville and Oktibbeha County school districts, while House Bill 716 would force the consolidation of West Point and Clay County schools.
SCHOOL FUNDING FORMULA – House Bill 1530 requires a student to be present for two-thirds of a school day to be counted as present in calculations for the Mississippi Adequate Education Program’s funding formula.
ABORTION DRUGS – Senate Bill 2795 says that only a physician may prescribe an abortion-inducing drug and it would require a physician to set a follow-up visit for a patient 14 days after the drug is administered.
ALL YOU CAN EAT: House Bill 1182 would prohibit counties and cities from creating food regulations such as requiring nutritional labeling at restaurants, banning junk foods, limiting soft drink sizes and keeping toys out of meals.
SPEED LIMIT – House Bill 376 would increase the speed limit on interstate highways and some state highways from 70 mph to 75 mph.
CHILD SUPPORT – House Bill 1009 and Senate Bill 2734 would allow the Department of Human Services to use a private company, or companies, to collect overdue child support payments.
PUBLIC RECORDS – Senate Bill 2066 says requests for public records must be handled by the lowest-paid government employee who is qualified to do so.
CONCEALED WEAPONS – House Bill 485 would block public access to information about state-issued permits for people to carry concealed weapons.
SCHOOLS-GUNS – House Bill 958 would let school boards create policies authorizing employees, including cafeteria workers and janitors, to carry concealed weapons on campus.
TEEN PREGNANCY – House Bill 151 says physicians or midwives would be required to collect umbilical cord blood when a baby is born to a mother who’s younger than 16 if she doesn’t reveal the father’s name. DNA tests would be done on the blood as a way to try to identify the father and allow prosecutors to pursue statutory rape charges if there’s a large age gap between the age of the mother and the father, said House Judiciary B Committee Chairman Andy Gipson, R-Braxton.
SCHOOL PRAYER – House Bill 1112 and Senate Bill 2633 designate school assemblies as “limited public forums” attempting to clear the way for students to pray before those gatherings. It also bans teachers from discriminating against religious viewpoints in academic work.
IMMIGRATION: House Bill 1221 would’ve increased the fines for not using an electronic system to verify that someone is eligible for employment and would direct the attorney general to enforce the law.
GARBAGE FEES – House Bill 148 would’ve allowed county supervisors to place a lien on any piece of property when the property owner has at least $250 in unpaid garbage fees.
PRIVATE SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIPS – House Bill 906 would’ve allowed an income tax credit for anyone who contributes to a scholarship fund to send low-income children to private or parochial schools.
CONVICTED SEX OFFENDERS – House Bill 426 would’ve removed parental rights for custody and visitation from anyone convicted of rape when that crime resulted in the conception of a child.