Monday, February 8th, 2021
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Week 5 Mississippi
Legislative Overview
Week 5 was the by far the busiest week of the 2021 Mississippi Legislative Session. Committee meetings to discuss House bills wrapped up early in the week because of Tuesday’s general bills deadline. The House convened in person on Wednesday for the first time in two weeks to discuss the legislation that made it to the calendar. The bills that were considered dealt with a variety of topics.

House Bill 997 would remove the Department of Revenue from being a wholesale distributor of alcoholic beverages within the state and allow for wholesale permits to be issued to private companies. The Department of Revenue currently operates the Alcoholic Beverage Control warehouse in Gluckstadt, Mississippi. The bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 104-3 and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.

Another bill that would change alcohol laws was House Bill 1135. The bill would create a delivery service permit to allow the holder to contract for the delivery of alcoholic beverages from a licensed retailer to a consumer. House Bill 1135 passed the House by a vote of 71-38.

One greatly debated bill was House Bill 1315. The bill would repeal occupational licenses for art therapists, auctioneers, interior designers, funeral home directors and wigologists. Proponents of the bill noted that these professions pose no real threat to public safety and have no need for state regulation, while those opposed argued that this repeal would lead to a lack of oversight in these industries. House Bill 1315 passed by a vote of 74-36, and the bill is now being held on a motion to reconsider.

House Bill 1302 was another source of much debate among House members. The bill would authorize optometrists who have passed educational requirements and have professional experience to perform certain procedures to treat eye diseases. Proponents of the bill stated that the proposed procedures are already being taught in optometry schools and are allowed in neighboring states. Opponents of the bill debated that these procedures should be performed by licensed physicians who specialize in ophthalmology. The bill passed 90-25 and has been sent to the Senate. I voted for the passage of this bill (more details below).

House Bill 1303 would allow advance practice registered nurses, or nurse practitioners, who have met certain experience requirements to practice primary care without a collaborative agreement with a licensed physician. The bill passed the House by a vote of 78-38. I voted in passage of this bill (more details below).

House Bill 122 would authorize expungement for up to three felony convictions if 15 years have passed since a person’s last felony conviction. Various felonies such as violent crimes, arson and trafficking would not be eligible for expungement. The bill passed by a vote of 78-42 and is now being held on a motion to reconsider.

A number of noncontroversial bills also passed through the House this week, including a bill naming the firing range at the MS Law Enforcement Officers’ Training Academy after Lieutenant Colonel Pat Cronin (House Bill 9); a bill authorizing the sale of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine without a prescription (House Bill 479); a bill authorizing the Department of Corrections to provide hospice care to terminally-ill patients (House Bill 1174); and a bill exempting law enforcement officers from concealed firearms permit fees and renewal fees (House Bill 886).

Floor debate will continue on these general bills until the February 11th deadline. After that, discussion will move to appropriation and revenue bills, as well as bills originating in the Senate. 
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Civil Rights Leaders from the Mississippi Delta
Below are some of the notable leaders and icons from the Mississippi Delta that I would like to celebrate this Black History Month. I know there are many unsung heroes and it is not my intention to leave any pioneers out. However, the people below made a significant generational impact on the future of Mississippians and all Americans. The Mississippi Delta was noted for being one of the harshest places to live for Black Americans during the civil rights era. These revolutionaries not only survived but thrived, despite the challenges. I am grateful for their many sacrifices. We have made significant strides in our march for equality and there is still a long way to go. I am grateful for the path they paved so my walk can be easier.
Fannie Lou Hamer of Ruleville, Mississippi
Willie "Po Monkey" Seaberry of Merigold, Mississippi
Amzie Moore of Cleveland, Mississippi
Riley B. King of Indianola, Mississippi
Isiah T. Montgomery founder of Mound Bayou, MS
Dr. Aaron Henry of Clarksdale, Mississippi
Safety After Vaccination
Today, Monday, February 8th, I received my second Moderna vaccination. Vaccination is a big step forward in Covid-19 control, but protective steps after vaccination are still advised. Even though you may not be sick, you may still be able to transmit Covid-19 to those who are not vaccinated. Keep wearing masks and social distancing after vaccination.
House Bill 1302 and 1303
House Bill 1302 gives optometrist the right to perform surgical procedures that only licensed physicians are allowed to perform. I voted to give optometrists the authority to perform "certain" eye care surgeries. I have full faith and confidence in the training optometrists will receive during additional optician training; furthermore, it can be repealed in the event it is found to be harmful in anyway to Mississippians who go through the procedure.

Additionally, House Bill 1303 is also a scope expansion for services offered. House Bill 1303 will allow nurse practitioners to practice without a collaboration with a licensed physician. The practice of medicine is precise and risky. I believe nurse practitioners and optometrists alike understand these challenges. Therefore, I voted to allow our medical field to be broaden by limiting the oversight of qualified medical profession. To read House Bills 1302 and 1303 please click the following: House Bill 1302 and House Bill 1303.

***Remember, both these bills still have to get through Senate Committee vote and then the full Senate Floor vote.
Mississippi is number 2 in Lynchings Per Capita
We have to confront hard truths about our past. Lynching is one of the hardest truths in Mississippi's history. Black Mississippians lived in terror for their lives during and after Reconstruction (1865-1877). The rise of terror groups like the Ku Klux Klan and others took the liberty Black Americans had been newly granted. Violence and fear was used as a mechanism to relegate black people to second class citizenry. This is fact that is hard to hear but one we must accept and a wound we must heal. To learn more about Mississippi's lynching history, please CLICK HERE.
Please text me at 662-522-1400 for additional questions or inquiries.