Legislative Update: Status of Bills of Interest
By The Associated Press
JACKSON – Here’s a glance at the status of selected bills in the Mississippi Legislature. Tuesday was the deadline for House and Senate committees to act on general bills that have already passed the opposite chamber. Surviving bills move to the full House and Senate 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.
SCHOOL CONSOLIDATION — House Bill 716 would force the consolidation of the Starkville and Oktibbeha County school districts. Senate Bill 2637 would force the consolidation of West Point and Clay County schools.
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.
SCHOOL FUNDING FORMULA — House Bill 1530 would require 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.
SCHOOLS-GUNS — Senate Bill 2659 would give grants of up to $10,000 per school security officer. A related House Bill 958 would’ve let school boards authorize employees, including cafeteria workers and janitors, to carry concealed weapons on campus. The House bill died in the Senate, but similar language could still be added into Senate Bill 2659.
SCHOOL PRAYER — Senate Bill 2633 would 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.
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.
ABORTION DRUGS — Senate Bill 2795 says only a physician may prescribe abortion-inducing drugs. A physician would be required to give a woman a physical examination before prescribing the drug, to see how far advanced the pregnancy is. The patient would be required to have a follow-up visit about 14 days after the drug is administered. The House passed the bill Tuesday.
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.
ALL YOU CAN EAT: Senate Bill 2687 and 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.
MEDICAID — House Bill 560 and Senate Bill 2207 would’ve kept the Medicaid program alive beyond June 30, the end of the current budget year. The Senate bill could’ve been amended to include expansion of Medicaid under the federal health law that President Barack Obama signed in 2010.
SPEED LIMIT — House Bill 376 would’ve increased the speed limit on interstate highways and some state highways from 70 mph to 75 mph.
PUBLIC RECORDS — Senate Bill 2066 said requests for public records must be handled by the lowest-paid government employee who is qualified to do so.