Another busy week in the Mississippi House

By TOM MILES,

First, I want to thank each of you who has stepped up to do what is necessary for our communities to make the best of this coronavirus situation. For those who have checked on their neighbors, who have fixed meals for the school children, who have decided to stay home to keep others safe, who have taught and learned from home, and all the other many efforts you’ve made to help, I say thank you. That’s why I am so proud to say I represent you at our State Capitol.

To all healthcare providers who are literally on the front lines, or waiting to be, I say thank you. You are brave and strong, and we can never fully repay you. To our first responders and law enforcement officers who are standing by when we need you, we all appreciate you.

We are in uncertain times, but I can assure you that those of us at the Capitol will do everything we can to make sure you and your family are safe. I urge you to pay attention to directives from the State and National Health officials and follow their lead.

This is a time when we can pay attention to our loved ones, enjoy the beauty of God’s creation and maybe take care of those home chores we’ve been ignoring for a while. I hope we can make the best of the situation and look on the bright side  instead of concentrating on the inconvenience.

We spent most of last week in the House chamber debating general bills that made it out of committee the Friday before.

One greatly debated item in the House was House Concurrent Resolution 39. The concurrent resolution would provide an alternative to Initiative 65 on the ballot in November. Initiative 65 would amend the Constitution to allow Mississippians with a debilitating medical condition to obtain a medical marijuana prescription. Proponents of HC 39 claimed that the language in Initiative 65 was misleading and could potentially lead to a recreational marijuana environment in the state. Opponents of HC 39 argued that the resolution was a tactic to make it more difficult for Initiative 65 to pass in November. HC 39 passed with a vote of 72-49.

One bill of interest was HC 47, a constitutional amendment which will do away with Mississippi’s “electoral college” for our gubernatorial elections. Mississippi is the only state that requires something besides the most votes to elect a governor. This measure will allow the governor to be elected by a majority. If there’s no majority win, there would be a runoff election.

Two items passed this week that would bring changes to the Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees, following recent controversy over some actions by the IHL. House Bill 870 requires that appointments to the IHL Board be made by the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House.

House Concurrent Resolution 51 proposes an amendment that revises the authority of the IHL Board to choose university presidents.

House Bill 1407 raises the state’s minimum age for purchasing tobacco products to 21 and groups alternative nicotine products, like vaping and e-cigarettes, with other forms of smokeless tobacco so that these products can be taxed.

House Bill 1091, or the Mississippi Educational Talent Recruitment Act, would work to prevent “brain drain” in the state caused by recent college graduates leaving the state in pursuit of more lucrative employment opportunities.

House Bill 1295, or the Life Equality Act of 2020, would prohibit abortions being performed because of race, sex or genetic abnormality except in a medical emergency.

Feel free to contact me at (601) 469-7886, email me at tmiles@house.ms.gov or message me with any concerns or issues you may have.