This was the tenth week of the 2021 Legislative Session.
Wednesday was the deadline for the House to discuss general Senate bills. Any Senate bills that did not make it off the calendar and before the House died. The deadline to discuss Senate appropriations and revenue bills will occur next Tuesday, March 16. More than 80 Senate bills were discussed on the floor, including the following:
Senate Bill 2765, or the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act, was the source of much debate on the House floor this week. The bill would have created an alternative to the medical marijuana program in Initiative 65 that was voted on by Mississippians in November 2020. During discussion, several amendments were offered, and a few members raised points of order and other parliamentary inquiries. Eventually, SB 2765 was laid on the table, and the bill died on the calendar. Similar language to SB 2765 was added to “Harper Grace’s Law” (HB 119) in the Senate late on Thursday.
Another greatly debated bill in the House this week was Senate Bill 2727. The bill would have revised the way members of the board of the Department of Archives and History are chosen. Since its inception in 1902, board members have chosen their own successors in the seat, which are then subject to Senate confirmation. SB 2727 would have given board appointments to the governor and the lieutenant governor. The bill failed by a vote of 17-105.
Senate Bill 2119 would authorize the sale and purchase of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine in the state without a prescription. Since 2010, Mississippi has required a prescription to purchase medicines containing these stimulants. SB 2119 passed by a bipartisan vote of 117-3, and it has been sent to the governor for his signature. The House passed a similar bill (HB 479) earlier in the session, but it has since died in committee.
A few bills passed the House with unanimous support including a bill that would authorize a veteran to establish proof of military service for Veteran Driver’s License Designation in person at a DPS driver’s license station (SB 2294); a bill that would give the option to combine a concealed carry weapons permit with a driver’s license or other identification card (SB 2253); and a bill that would allow the Department of Education to grant teaching licenses to teachers who already possess the equivalent from another state (SB 2267).
The calendar also included several House bills that were passed earlier in the session, sent to the Senate and are now back before the House. With this process, the representatives will vote on whether to concur with the changes the Senate made, or to invite conference for possible further revisions before becoming law or dying.