On Tuesday, March 17, the Mississippi House of Representatives suspended the legislative session until April 1 at 2 p.m., or a date mutually agreed upon by Speaker of the House Philip Gunn and Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann, if necessary. This suspension is out of an abundance of caution for the legislative members and staff due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before the House could adjourn, several items needed to be taken up in relation to the suspension. Because the general bill deadline had already passed, a resolution was needed to suspend the rules and allow for a general bill to be introduced.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 561 called for a suspension of the rules and for the introduction of a bill to authorize leave with pay for local government and local school district employees. There is a statute that allows for state employees to receive benefits during certain circumstances, but the statute did not permit the same for local government employees.
House Bill 1647 was then introduced authorizing local governmental entities and school districts to grant administrative leave with pay during certain emergencies. The bill passed with a bipartisan vote of 118-2 and was sent to the Senate for consideration.
The second resolution taken up was House Concurrent Resolution 65. The resolution extends the session by 30 days, allows for reconvening on April 1 or upon determination by the House and Senate and adjusts the session deadlines to conform with the extended schedule. HC 65 passed by a vote of 82-38 and was taken up by the Senate on Wednesday morning.
Prior to these actions, on Monday I filed a suspension resolution to exempt our public schools from state testing requirements for the year, and I was glad to see the State Board of Education consider our recommendations to not count them this year. The State Board of Education also chose to honor the recommendation of Governor Reeves and dismissed school until April 17.
Please remember to consider the recommendations that have been made to keep social distance and don’t go anywhere that you don’t have to until all of this passes.
Things are changing day-by-day and even hour-by-hour so please continue to follow my Facebook page on a daily basis. I will do my best to update you on what’s going on from my perspective as your State Representative.
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to serve you. If you have any questions or concerns feel free to reach out to me via social media, firstname.lastname@example.org or 601-468-7886.