Senate Weekly Report

Photo: Students in the fifth-grade Spotlight Program of Lewisburg Intermediate School, and teacher Angel Lashlee, visited the Capitol along with parents on Friday, March 31, 2023, and watched the Senate in action, and spoke with Senator Kevin Blackwell, Senator Dr. David Parker, Senator Michael McLendon, and state Representative Jerry Darnell. (Courtesy photo)

In the 13th and final week of the 2023 Legislative Session, the Senate adjourned on Saturday, April 1, 2023, with a motion to Sine Die at midnight, Wednesday, April 5, 2023.

Senators amended budgets, made appointments to boards, and passed appropriation bills to fund state government. Senators also reallocated certain funds that had not been spent.

The Senate met a Tuesday, March 28, 2023 deadline to dispose of motions to reconsider conference reports on appropriation and revenue bills, a Wednesday, March 29, 2023, deadline for first consideration of conference reports on general bills and constitutional amendments, a Thursday, March 30, 2023, deadline for filing conference reports and general bills and constitutional amendments that had been recommitted for further conference, a Friday, March 31, 2023, deadline for adoption of conference reports on general bills and constitutional amendments after recommittal.

A total state support budget of $7.6 billion was adopted. It contained a $3.06 billion K-12 education budget. 

Departing senators Barbara Blackmon, Chris Caughman, Robert L. Jackson, Chris McDaniel, and Melanie Sojourner, who are not seeking re-election, were honored before the body on Friday, March 31, 2023, with each addressing their colleagues, who thanked them for their service in the Senate.

Resolutions passed to recognize them were: Senate Resolution 105 honoring Senator McDaniel, Senate Resolution 106 honoring Senator Sojourner, Senate Resolution 107 honoring Senator Caughman, Senate Resolution 108 honoring Senator Blackmon and Senate Resolution 109 honoring Senator Jackson.

The Senate passed House Bill 271 that grants the state Department of Health authority to distribute $103 million to hospitals statewide under the Health Care Impact Grant Program.

Passage of House Bill 698 ensures cities and counties must charge for actual usage of water and sewer services and cannot arbitrarily charge based on sizes or values of dwellings. Some, who have successfully used a version of the formula, will be grandfathered in.

Bills passed included:

  • Senate Bill 3047 that channels $50.96 million in Gulf Coast Restoration Funds through the Mississippi Development Authority for various projects, including $3.5 million to assist the City of Long Beach with the Long Beach Harbor Complex Restoration, and $2 million to assist the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission with the Technology Park and Phase 1 of site development at Stennis Airport.
  • House Bill 817 increases minimum funding level for Early Learning Collaboratives to $2,500 for full-day and $1,250 for half-day programs.
  • Senate Bill 2382 requires out-of-state lawyers who advertise on television to disclose whether they are licensed to practice in Mississippi.
  • Senate Bill 2781 creates The Mississippi Access to Maternal Assistance Program, within the Department of Health “to coordinate and promote information and services related to pregnancy, childbirth, and care for dependent children for expectant mothers and new parents. The Program shall include, but shall not be limited to, providing comprehensive information and resources related to adoption assistance, childcare, domestic abuse protection, early intervention, food, clothing, and supplies related to pregnancy and newborn care, job training and placement, paternity, parenting skills, and prenatal and postpartum care.”
  • House Bill 1318, amended existing law to ensure baby safety devices, in which a mother who does not want a child, may leave it after preferably alerting emergency authorities – are checked regularly and have alarms to alert authorities when a child is placed inside. They will be at emergency locations like fire departments and hospitals.
  • House Bill 1020 establishes the structure of the Capitol Complex Improvement District inferior court, and establishes expanded boundaries for Capitol Police patrols, in part. 
  • Senate Bill 2343 further defines jurisdiction of Capitol Police, among other things, like certain operational procedures.
  • Senate Bill 2073 lowers the age of majority to 18 for securing loans and purchasing real property.
  • House Bill 405 extends to five years, the length of time for prosecution of the crime of bribery of a candidate.
  • Senate Bill 2239 allows state troopers to work after hour security jobs wearing their uniforms and duty weapons and driving their state issued vehicles.
  • Senate Bill 2353 increases wage range for poll workers.
  • House Bill 603 a transfer bill that contains money for various city, county, and governmental related projects across the state.
  • House Bill 1719 authorizes the Department of Finance and Administration to provide $22 million “to destination marketing organizations to assist in paying costs of marketing activities and providing funds to the Grammy Museum Mississippi to assist in paying certain costs,’ to increase tourism efforts.
  • Senate Bill 2444 establishes a second round of $74 million in funding for eligible counties and municipalities from the “Mississippi Municipality and County Water Infrastructure Grant Program Act of 2022.’

In other action:

  • Senator Jason Barrett led presentation of Senate Resolution 59 on Monday, March 27, 2023, to the Brookhaven Academy “Lady Cougars” Girls Basketball Team and Coach Ron Kessler for winning the 2023 MAIS 5A Championship with a February 18, 2023, by beating Leake Academy 42-36 in the MAIS 5A State Tournament Championship Game in Greenwood.
  • Senator Jason Barrett on Monday, March 27, 2023, accompanied by Representatives Becky Currie and Vince Mangold, led presentation of Senate Concurrent Resolution 546 to the Brookhaven Academy “Lady Cougars” Softball Team and Head Coach Lisa Covington at the Capitol for clinching their second straight MAIS 5A State Championship on October 6, 2022.
  • Vicksburg native, Nicholas Anderson, a standout football player, who in May graduated Cum Laude from Tulane University and is preparing for the 2023 NFL Draft, on Monday, March 27, 2023, was honored with presentation of Senate Resolution 41 by Senator Briggs Hopson and Senator Brice Wiggins.
  • Senator Chris Caughman on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, led the presentation of Senate Resolution 50 commending the Simpson County Academy “Cougars” Boys Basketball Team and Head Coach Josh McNulty for winning back-to-back MAIS 5A State Championships. 
  • Senator Walter Michel on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, led the body’s presentation of Senate Concurrent Resolution 520 honoring the University of Mississippi “Ole Miss Rebels” baseball team and Head Coach Mike Bianco for their College World Series win on Sunday, June 29, 2022, defeating the Oklahoma “Sooners” 4-2, to sweep the Best-of-Three Championship before a televised national audience.
  • Senator Sarita Simmons on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, led presentation of Senate Resolution 78 honoring McEvans High School “Warriors” Boys Basketball Team for winning the MHSAA Boys Class 1A State Championship with their 67-48 victory over McAdams on March 2, 2023, at the Mississippi Coliseum.
  • Senator Hillman T. Frazier on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, led the presentation of Senate Resolution 99 honoring Women for Progress of Mississippi, Inc., for their public service.

Bob Bakken

Bob Bakken is the most recognized and most trusted name in DeSoto County news and sports reporting, as readers continue to express their appreciation for his accuracy and fairness in the stories he writes. Bob is also heard on 95.3 The Rebel twice a week with sports updates and high school football play-by-play broadcasts in the fall. A former newspaper editor and writer, his award-winning background also includes television news producing, sports media relations, and radio broadcasting.

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