The Legislative Report Header
February 26, 2021
The Legislative Report
Both the House and the Senate resumed business as usual this week. A variety of different appropriation bills were discussed in both chambers, but one bill stood out among the rest. HB 1439 was debated in the House this week as many representatives had questions about its impact on every citizen in Mississippi. If passed into law, HB 1439 will eliminate the state income tax and will seek to cut the grocery tax in half by 2026. According to House legislators, this will result in more money in the pockets of each individual tax payer. In order to make up for the lost revenue, the plan in HB 1439 would also increase the state’s current 7% general sales tax to 9.5% and sales tax on other goods such as cigarettes and alcohol will also increase. Representative Trey Lamar said that by leveraging the broad base of the sales tax, the state can generate more revenue than taxing people under the income tax method. The goal of this plan would be to eliminate the individual income tax by the ten-year mark. Recently, Speaker Philip Gunn has released a video through Twitter and Facebook in order to explain the different portions of the bill and its impact on Mississippi citizens. HB 1439 passed the House with a vote of 85-34.
Outside of HB 1439, there are other notable bills that impact education and are still alive. Below is a summary of those bills:

  • SB 2001 and HB 852 provide pay raises for teachers and assistant teachers across the state. SB 2001 has been referred to the House Education and Appropriations Committees while HB 852 has been referred to the Senate Education and Appropriations Committees.

  • SB 2149 would require the Mississippi Department of Education to hold school districts harmless when calculating average daily attendance for the 2020-2021 scholastic year. SB 2149 has been referred to the House Education Committee. 

  • SB 2305 and HB 1179 create the William F. Winter and Jack Reed, Sr., Teacher Loan Repayment Program. This program is designed to address the teacher shortage in the state by consolidating multiple unfunded repayment programs into one fully funded repayment program. SB 2305 has been referred to the House Education and Appropriations Committees while HB 1179 has been referred to the Senate Education and Appropriations Committees.
COVID-19 Vaccinations
covid-19
Governor Tate Reeves announced earlier this week that K-12 educators and first responders will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine beginning March 1, 2021. Both K-12 educators and first responders can sign up online for an appointment. To make an appointment, visit covidvaccine.umc.edu or call 877-978-6453.
Mississippi Department of Education
The Mississippi State Board of Education’s (SBE) monthly meeting, originally scheduled for February, 18, 2021, was held Thursday, February 25. The SBE opened the meeting by discussing the ACT WorkKeys in regards to amending the business rules of the Mississippi Statewide Accountability Standards under the College and Career Readiness Indicators. Ultimately, the board voted to allow the APA to have another look at other options outside of the silver level.

The SBE also voted to suspend strict compliance with several state laws, regulations, and policies due to the ongoing pandemic. The summaries of those suspensions are listed below:

  • License Extension — The SBE voted to suspend the renewal requirements for all MDE licenses that are set to expire on June 30, 2021 and granted a one-year extension for all license types with a current valid expiration date of June 30, 2021. These licenses would reflect the new expiration date of June 30, 2022. This extension will occur automatically as no application is necessary.

  • Superintendent Licensure — The SBE voted to allow prospective Mississippi superintendents of education meeting all other qualifications except the accountability rating documentation requirement, to be deemed eligible to receive an initial District Superintendent License. Those superintendents can begin practicing in that role should a Mississippi local School Board approve the appointment of the candidate. A one-year extension to a three-year initial alternative District Superintendent License, at the point of license expiration, was also granted.

  • Master Teacher Certification — The SBE approved a one-month extension to allow a licensed teacher who has acquired a Master Teacher certificate and who is employed by a local school board or the State Board of Education as a teacher and not as an administrator, to submit documentation to the State Department of Education.

  • 3rd Grade English Language Arts/Reading Assessment — The SBE voted to suspend the reporting requirements for the Mississippi Statewide Assessment and Retention information for school districts as required by the Literacy-Based Promotion Act. Districts will still be required to document interventions and supports for struggling students and communication with parents.

  • Early Childhood Collaborative — The SBE voted to allow an additional one-year suspension of the Effectiveness Evaluation Plan for the 2020–2021 school year for Early Learning Collaboratives. Programs will continue to conduct student assessments, but not the CLASS observation. Grantees shall remain eligible for funding in the 2021–2022 school year.

  • Cursive Writing Assessments — The SBE voted to allow a one-year suspension of the cursive writing assessment requirements.

  • Mississippi Speech-Language Therapy Scholarship — The SBE voted to allow an additional one-year suspension of the requirement for continued attendance at a physical school location for the 2020–2021 school year.

  • Mississippi Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship — The SBE voted to allow an additional one-year suspension of the requirement for continued attendance at a physical school location for the 2020–2021 school year.
Deadlines
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The current deadlines for legislation are:

  • Tuesday, March 2, 2021 — Deadline for committees to report general bills and constitutional amendments originating in other house.

  • Wednesday, March 10, 2021 — Deadline for original floor action on general bills and constitutional amendments originating in other house.

  • Thursday, March 11, 2021 — Deadline for reconsideration and passage of general bills and constitutional amendments originating in other house.

  • Friday, March 12, 2021 — Deadline to dispose of motions to reconsider general bills and constitutional amendments originating in other house.
SAVE THE DATE!
Legislative Update & School Law Review
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The Mississippi School Boards Association will hold the annual Legislative Update & School Law Review, virtually, on April 26-27, 2021.

Complete details coming soon!
Day at the Capitol
MSBA’s Day at the Capitol has been cancelled this year.
Questions?
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austin gilbert
Austin Gilbert
MSBA Policy Manager