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Legislative Weekly Summary

Senate Weekly Summary 

In the eighth week of the 2024 Legislative Session, the Senate concurred with House amendments to Senate Bill 2140, the Mississippi Prior Authorization Reform Act, which seeks to improve the process through which some medical procedures must be approved and certain medications are obtained.

Among the changes agreed upon, qualified physicians of the same specialty should review prior authorization requests and appeals. “A health insurance issuer must ensure that all appeals are reviewed by a physician when the request is by a physician or a representative of a physician.” The amendment further states insurers should “Consider all known clinical aspects of the health care service under review, including, but not limited to, a review of all pertinent medical records provided to the health insurance issuer by the enrollee’s health care professional or health care provider and any medical literature provided to the health insurance issuer by the health care professional or health care provider.”

The Senate passed House Concurrent Resolution 29, that sets a Joint Session of the Legislature Monday, Feb. 26, at 5 p.m., to hear the State of the State address of Governor Tate Reeves.

Also passed was Senate Bill 2059, that defines for Mississippi Code biomass and bioenergy. Among the items listed as biomass are, “Harvest residues, including, without limitation, trees, or portions of harvested trees…. downed wood from extreme weather events or natural disasters and nonhazardous landscape or right-of-way trimmings and municipal trimmings.”

The Senate met a Monday, Feb. 19 deadline for introduction of general bills and constitutional amendments. As of Friday, Feb. 23, 1,076 bills were assigned to committees.

On Tuesday, Feb. 20, the Northwest Rankin High School Choir, along with director Antony Keeler, performed in the second-floor rotunda of the Capitol as part of Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann’s effort to allow students to showcase their talents, which allows lawmakers to slow down and reflect on what’s important. 

Mississippi Valley State University President Jerryl Briggs Sr. addressed the Senate on Tuesday, Feb. 20, “Mississippi Valley State Green and White Day.” The MVSU Valley Singers also performed in the Second Floor Rotunda, following the performance of Northwest Rankin High School Choir.

On Wednesday, Feb. 21, Senator Chad McMahan led the Senate’s presentation of a proclamation honoring Tupelo resident Scott Burns, a former U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal and founder of the nonprofit veteran’s organization “7 Days for the Troops.” Burns has helped veterans across the country, including in Louisiana, Texas, Florida, and North Carolina.

On Thursday, Feb. 22, Senator Chris Johnson led presentation of Senate Resolution 6,  to legendary University of Southern Mississippi Baseball Coach Scott Berry, who upon his retirement, following 14 seasons at the helm of the baseball program, led the Golden Eagles to unprecedented levels of success as the team moved to the Sun Belt Conference.

The next deadline is March 5, for committees to report general bills and constitutional amendments originating in the Senate.

House of Representatives Weekly Summary

This was the eighth week of the 2024 Legislative Session. The deadline for introducing general bills and constitutional amendments was on Monday night.

Next week, committees will meet even more frequently as the Legislature approaches the next deadline. After Tuesday, March 5, no additional bills will be added to the House calendar, and members will meet in session for longer periods to discuss the bills that have made it out of committee. If a bill is not passed out of committee by this deadline, it is considered dead.

Although most work is still happening in committees, the House was busy taking up legislation this week.

House Bill 922 would make the office of county election commissioner nonpartisan. The bill passed the House by a vote of 112-6 before being held on a motion to reconsider.

House Bill 1035 would amend the “Nonpartisan Judicial Election Act” to include justice court judges. The bill passed 106-11 before being held on a motion to reconsider.

House Bill 438 would increase the penalty for shoplifting. Currently, the fine for the first shoplifting conviction is $1,000, the fine for the second is $2,500 and the fine for the third is $3,000. Under HB 438, these would increase to $1,500, $3,000 and $4,000, respectively. The bill passed by a vote of 89-28, and it has been sent to the Senate for consideration.

House Bill 313 would create the Board of Cosmetology and Barbering to regulate their respective professions. There are two separate boards which oversee cosmetologists and barbers, and HB 313 would combine them into one board. The bill passed 115-0 and has been sent to the Senate.

House Bill 1105 would remove the prohibition on using the words “partnership” and “limited partnership” when providing a name for a limited liability company. HB 1105 passed unanimously 120-0 and will now go to the Senate.

Eight Representatives presented bills for the first time before the House:

  • Representative Justin Keen (R – Byhalia) presented House Bill 697, or the Mississippi Aviation Safety Act.
  • Representative Josh Hawkins (R – Batesville) presented House Bill 940, which would revise publication and bid requirements for Design-Build projects for the Mississippi Transportation Commission.
  • Representative Steve Lott (R – Lucedale) presented House Bill 751, which would extend the repealer on the authority of the Commissioner of Public Safety to create a voluntary inspection program of commercial motor vehicles.
  • Representative Fabian Nelson (D – Jackson) presented House Bill 873, which would establish the Purple Alert as an additional means to aid the search for missing persons with cognitive disabilities.
  • Representative Grace Butler-Washington (D – Jackson) presented House Bill 1121, which would make minor, non-substantive changes regarding the swearing-in of state officers.
  • Representative Chuck Blackwell (R – Ellisville) presented House Bill 1149, which would authorize counties to only maintain an electronic format of law books in county courtrooms and public county law libraries.
  • Representative Clay Mansell (R – Clinton) presented House Bill 628, which would extend the repealer on the statute granting persons the right to access public records.
  • Representative Kimberly Remak (R – Olive Branch) presented House Bill 653, which would extend the expiration date of the moratorium on the application of the trip optimizer system to state agencies.

On Tuesday, the House Medicaid Committee conducted a hearing on the potential impact of Medicaid expansion for Mississippi workers. The House State Affairs Committee also conducted a hearing this week on Mississippi’s Certificate of Need. Both issues greatly impact the state’s health care system.

Last week, the House passed House Concurrent Resolution 29, calling for a joint session of the Legislature to hear the State of the State address from Governor Tate Reeves. The address is scheduled for Monday, February 26 at 5 p.m. and will be held on the south steps of the Capitol, weather permitting.

Visitors this week included the Jackson Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc., Mississippi Valley State University, the Department of Child Protective Services, the DuBard School of Language Disorders at USM, the Florence High School Dance Team, the Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce, the GRAMMY Museum Mississippi and Delta State University.