2020 Legislative Update: Week 9
The  ninth week of the 2020 legislative session proved to be the busiest thus far.  Committee meetings to discuss House bills wrapped up early in the week because of Tuesday's general bill deadline.  After Tuesday, all general bills that were not passed out of committee died before reaching the House calendar. 

The House convened Wednesday through Friday to discuss legislation that made it out of committee. The bills that were considered dealt with a variety of topics.

House Bill 1208 , or the Mississippi Hemp Cultivation Act, would legalize the cultivation, processing and transportation o f the hemp plant. Industrial hemp is a distinct strain of the cannabis plant that can be refined into commercial items,  such as  paper, textiles and clothing. Proponents of the bill  said that the production of hemp would help farmers and be a boost for the state's economy .  Opponents of the bill argued that  regulation and enforcement could be difficult because of its close resemblance to marijuana. The bill passed the House with a vote of 104-10.

Another greatly debated bill was  House Bill 730 , which would allow municipalities with a population of less than 2,50 0 residents to conduct special elections at one central polling place.  If enacted into law, it would only apply to special elections. Both general elections and primaries would still be held at regular voting precincts.  Proponents of the bill said it would help smaller communities save money in special elections .  O pponents argued that the law could potentially hinder people by showing up at their regular votin g precinct to cast their ballot instead of the temporary polling place. 

An  amendment  to the bill  was added  calling for a  notice  to be placed in front of the regular precincts informing voters of the  change.   The bill passed the House as amended by a vote of 94-21 .
Several bills on the floor this week covered the sale of alcohol across the state. 

House Bill 917  would allow for the sale of light spirit products, which by definition contain no more than 4% of alcohol.  These products would be regulated in the same way as beer and light wine.  HB 917 passed by a vote of 82-28 and has been sent to the Senate. 

House Bill 4  would  increase the maximum number of package retailer's permits a person may own from one to three.  Debate ensued when opponents argued that  this change could potentially impact small business owners around the state, while proponents noted that other states have similar laws and that the change would increase healthy economic competition.  The bill had a vote on the floor of 57-55, but a motion to reconsider was entered and a point of order was raised asking if the bill required a three-fifths majority instead.

House Bill 978   would increase the penalties for the crime of hazing, including failing to report hazing. This bill comes after a string of hazing-related deaths among U.S. college students in recent years.   The bill passed the House by a vote of 96-18 and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.

A number of noncontroversial bills also passed through the House this week, including a bill creating the "Future of Mississippi Agriculture Act of 2020" ( HB 1566 ), a bill allowing freestanding emergency rooms to be established near recently closed rural hospitals ( HB 752 ), a bill requiring inspection of amusement and carnival rides ( HB 999 ) and  a bill  allowing active duty highway patrolmen to teach driver's education programs ( HB 1503 ).

Floor debate will continue on these general bills until the March 12 d eadline.  Other v isitors this week included  singer-songwriter and Mississippi native Paul Overstreet, opera conductor William Garfield Walker,  the Susan G. Komen
Foundation,  realtors from across the state,  students from Obama Magnet Elementary School, Canopy Children's Solutions and the Mississippi Association of Nurse Practitioners.



Tuesday, March 10th
7 AM - 7 PM

Gazette Publishing Company, LLC
South Mississippi Author P. Anne Battiste recently published her first book that is titled, "THE LEGACY PAPERS: The Thompson-Eugene Family And Our River Road Connection."  In this book, P. Anne traces the roots of her Negro family back to the year of 1761 by starting with known facts about her ancestors Millie Williams and Native American Charlie Thompson who were both born prior to the American Civil War that started on April 12, 1861. In the book, Battiste follows the footsteps of one of their daughters, her great-great grandmother Mary Thompson, from St. Rose Louisiana to nearby St John the Baptist Parish where she meets, marries and starts her own family with Jacques Eugene during reconstruction on the antebellum San Francisco Plantation, which is situated on the River Road.

In THE LEGACY PAPERS, P. Anne Battiste observes the resiliency of the American Negro who pursued freedom for themselves, for their people and future generations. In the chapter titled, "Family & Country," Battiste rehearses the plights and strides of Negroes who endured life under Slave Codes, Black Codes and Jim Crow laws in the south.  In a single sentence, she links the conflicts encountered in 1760 by Richard Allen, the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, who paid $2,000 for his freedom and opened a day school for African American children while maintaining his home on the route of the Underground Railroad to NFL Quarterback Colin Kaepernick who took a national knee on the football field in 2016 to protest police brutality against all African Americans in the country, and the seemingly un-prosecuted blue-on-black murders in those majority-minority communities in the country. As such, Battiste believes his continued efforts on behalf of Blacks, which has cost him his NFL career qualifies him to be recognized as a modern-day-abolitionist!

P. Anne Battiste is a native of Gulfport, Mississippi. More specifically, she is proud a product of the majority-minority west Gulfport neighborhood of Gaston Point! In addition to her recent work, Battiste hosts (PODCAST) WHY DOES IT MATTER, which was created to start dialogue among neighbors about hot topics and other issues relevant to minority-majority communities. The discussion can be heard weekly on ANCHOR by clicking on this link,  https://anchor.fm/patricia-silva-mujica/episodes/1-WHY-DOES-PRISON-REFORM-IN-MISSISSIPPI-MATTER--2-WHY-DOES-BEING-A-GIRL-DADDY-MATTER-eakn1i.

P. Anne Battiste has also had a near two decade history writing for the Sun Herald Newspaper as a freelance journalist. She was also privileged to write for South Mississippi Living Magazine for a season where she ultimately covered the "House of the Month" features. Battiste got her start in the media field by writing a monthly column for the Good News Newspaper, which was then owned by Ed Coorley. She started writing, however, as a young girl documenting information she would learn from time-to-time from family members about her biological father Edward Battiste who was not present in her life. P. Anne Battiste graduated Cum Laude from Tulane University in 2006 with her degree of Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She was ordained as a gospel evangelist in 1990 by North Gulfport Community Greater Bible Fellowship Church so as to qualify her to continue ministering to inmates in the Harrison County Detention Center at that time.

In 2010, P. Anne Battiste created The Gazette Publishing Company, LLC, as a Mississippi entity to begin a small community newspaper to inform residents about news that impacted them, and to encourage them to get involved where they lived. "The Gazette (At South MS)" had its run, and was successful in that it allowed Battiste to do what she intended. It was, however, short lived due to funding. Even so, Battiste maintained The Gazette Publishing Company, LLC,  as an active entity for the purposes of publishing books she would someday write. The the first book she published in September 2019 was "THE LEGACY PAPERS: The Thompson-Eugene Family And Our River Road Connection,"  and it is now available for purchase on Amazon.Com at  www.amazon.com/ dp / B07Y4MXZJP.

If you are a South Mississippi Writer with a BOOK IDEA and need assistance putting it in BOOK FORM, contact GAZETTE PUBLISHING COMPANY by emailing GazettePublishingLLC@Yahoo.Com #WhereWeWrite4U.
P. Anne Battiste is available for public speaking engagements or to host private book signings. Just INBOX  www.Facebook.Com/P. Anne Battiste/
or email GazettePublishingLLC@Yahoo. Com. 

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Sonya Williams Barnes