The Mississippi legislature convened for the 2021 regular session January 5. Two weeks in and legislators are still finalizing drafts of bills to be introduced and preparing for committee meetings. The first big deadline of the session was January 13, the deadline to request bills be drafted. January 18 was the final day to file a general bill for the 2021 session.
The entire legislature already passed one bill, HB 1, codifying the decision of the Mississippi voters to make the “In God We Trust” flag the official flag of the state of Mississippi. The Senate passed a $1000 teacher pay raise, which is now awaiting a decision in the House. Speaker Philip Gunn met with Farm Bureau county presidents on a Zoom call on January 15 and indicated the House would have to wait and see what the revenue and state budget looks like before passing this legislation, which would cost the state almost $70 million a year.
With COVID-19 still rampant in the state, the session will look different this year. The legislature shut down the page program, along with Capitol tours and trade association days. All of these measures are in place to try to reduce the number of people under the dome and encourage social distancing. Capitol visitors are being screened for COVID-19 symptoms and are given a sticker to show they have been screened. Leadership on both sides of the Capitol are also encouraging less committee meetings and less legislation filed. This is scheduled to be a 90-day session, but there is talk of shortening it to 75 days.
Your Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation policy team will be at the Capitol monitoring legislation and working with elected leaders to ensure farmers, ranchers, rural Mississippians, and Farm Bureau members’ interests are protected. We will keep you up to date with information biweekly in Farm Country Notes. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your regional manager or the public policy staff if you have any questions or concerns about the session in Jackson.