Gov. Bryant considering several bills

Gov. Bryant is carefully considering whether to sign Senate Bill 2161, an “anti-Common Core” bill. He is concerned that it doesn’t have any teeth but just makes recommendations that could be rejected by the Department of Education in favor of existing Common Core standards. Tea Party conservatives like Senators Chris McDaniel and Melanie Sojourner are pushing for a veto and a special legislative session to create a true alternative solution to Common Core.

The Governor has been more positive about a pair of pro-2nd Amendment bills, Senate Bills 2394 and 2619, which reduce concealed carry permit fees and allow weapons to be carried in fully enclosed cases (such as purses and briefcases) without a permit. Gov. Bryant has indicated that he will sign both bills.

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Legislature wraps-up 2015 session

The Senate ended their 2015 session on April 1st. After considering 2 remaining measures, the House adjourned the following day.

In its final session, the House approved Senate Bill 2258, which, if signed by Gov. Bryant, requires school principles to certify results of standardized tests and provides criminal penalties if cheating is detected. The House also approved Senate Bill 2804 which removes Department of Corrections employees from the state Personnel Board civil service protection to enable the DoC leadership to reorganize the troubled agency.

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“Permit-less” concealed carry for purses passes House

[UPDATE: Post title originally indicated that the Senate passed the bill; the Senate has not yet passed the bill as of the time of publishing.]

Senate Bill 2394 was passed by the House on March 27th to allow concealed carry of a gun in “a purse, bag, handbag, satchel or other similar bag or briefcase or fully enclosed case” without a concealed carry permit.  The Senate is expected to approve the bill and Gov. Bryant has already said he would sign it into law.

Rep. Andy Gipson, who helped kill a bill earlier in the session misleadingly advertised as “constitutional carry” (SB 2618), reiterated his commitment to meaningful 2nd Amendment legislation and added the language to SB 2394. Originally intended to reduce the fees for concealed carry permits, SB 2394 would also exempt active-duty military and service-disabled veterans from concealed carry permit fees. A concealed carry permit would still be required for reciprocity with other states.

Senate Bill 2619 also passed the House and would exempt active military, veterans, and retired law enforcement from the training requirements to obtain enhanced carry permits. It also seeks to nullify any federal ammunition bans like the recent bans considered by the BATFE.

Both SB 2394 and 2619 must be approved by the Senate before going to the Governor.

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Gov. Bryant to sign special needs education voucher bill into law

In an effort to meet special needs students’ educational requirements and increase graduation rates (currently 22.5% compared to 74.5% for all others), the House and Senate have concurred on Senate Bill 2695 sending it to Gov. Bryant for signing into law.

The bill will provide $6,500 scholarships, sometimes called “vouchers,” to participating students to be used by parents to acquire education that is oriented to the specific needs of their special needs student. The program will be open to 500 students in the 2015-2016 school year; 250 vouchers will be given on a first-come, first-served basis and 250 vouchers will be awarded by lottery.

A similar bill failed to pass the House in 2014. Rep. Carolyn Crawford of Pass Christian vowed to bring the bill back for the 2015 legislative session and, working with Sen. Nancy Collins, pushed the bill to the governor.

Arizona and Florida are the only other two states that have similar programs which are called Educational Savings Accounts.

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Gov. Bryant signs Compact for a Balanced Budget, texting ban

Gov. Bryant signed several bills into law recently including the Compact for a Balanced Budget and a bill prohibiting texting while driving.

Senate Bill 2389, the Compact for a Balanced Budget, enters Mississippi into the interstate compact that calls for a Constitutional Convention to ratify a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Governor outlawed texting while driving by signing House Bill 389 which specifically states, “An operator of a moving motor vehicle is prohibited from writing, sending, or reading a text message and from accessing, reading or posting to a social networking site using a hand-held mobile telephone [or other portable electronic communication device] while driving said motor vehicle.” Mississippi already had a law prohibiting those 16 and under from texting while driving but this law expands the ban to all drivers. Phone calls are not impacted.

Other recently signed bills:

  • House Bill 215 allows temporary medical licenses to be issued to out-of-state doctors in state for military, National Guard, or Reserve duty.
  • House Bill 257 requires/allows HIV testing of adults accused of sexual assault on a child prior to any conviction.
  • Senate Bill 2127 provides in-state tuition rates for non-residents eligible for veterans education assistance.

The new laws become effective July 1st.

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Vehicle inspection stickers about to go away

The House voted 112-7 in favor of eliminating the vehicle inspection sticker. Those favoring some type of inspection say that, since there is no support for a more thorough and expensive inspection process, it makes sense to eliminate the sticker. Gov. Phil Bryant must sign the repeal to become law.

The Sun Herald asks, “Will Phil Bryant sign bill to eliminate inspection stickers?

State Sen. Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula says, “Yes:”

The bill repeals the annual inspection (MS Code § 63-13-1 through 63-13-29) but leaves in place MS Code § 63-7-59 which prohibits mirror tinting and requires light transmittance of 28% or more on the windshield and front two side windows.

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Lt. Gov. proposes alternative tax cut plan

The House and the Senate have passed competing tax cut proposals:

  • The Senate passed  SB 2839 that would eliminate the corporate franchise tax over 10 years and provide breaks for small businesses and eliminate the 3% bracket on personal income taxes.
  • The House passed HB 1629 bill eliminating the personal income tax altogether within 15 years conditioned upon a 3% or better “growth trigger.”

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves has offered a compromise: implement the Senate plan over 10 years and then eliminate the state’s 4 percent income tax bracket over the next 5 years for individuals and businesses with no growth triggers.

The Senate Finance Committee has passed the compromise but the Speaker of the House Philip Gunn has not yet considered it.

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