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Early Voting Bill Dies, Disenfranchising Crimes Remain: #MSLeg Roundup

A woman in black clothes speaks at a mic in the senate
Mississippi Sen. Angela Burks Hill, R-Picayune, killed a bill that would have restored voting rights to some formerly incarcerated people convicted of nonviolent crimes after declining to bring it up for a vote for an April 2, 2024, legislative deadline. AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File

School boards and charter schools could have to create and implement cardiac emergency response plans that school employees would use when a person goes into cardiac arrest or has a medical emergency on school grounds or during a school event if a new bill in the Mississippi Legislature becomes law.

Under Senate Bill 2349, administrators would have to work with local emergency service providers to implement the cardiac emergency response plan into the school’s protocols. Each school would have to create a cardiac emergency response team that would respond to people undergoing life-threatening medical conditions while on school grounds or at a school-sponsored event or sport.

“You work with drills, updating it once a year so that everybody knows what to do in a school system,” Sen. Nicole Boyd, R-Oxford, said on the Senate floor on March 6.

The Senate passed S.B. 2349 by a 52-0 vote on March 6. The House unanimously passed an amended version of the bill on April 4 that corrected a grammatical error and added that schools and boards of education can accept money, gifts and donations of supplies.

Runoff Election Date Change

Mississippi could move its primary runoff elections to take place four weeks after a primary election instead of the current three weeks under Senate Bill 2144.

“This is to allow our circuit clerks and everyone else to have time to get the previous election certified and get ballots printed,” Sen. Jeremy England, R-Vancleave, said on the Senate floor on March 7.

The Senate passed the bill on March 7 by a 49-0 vote. The House passed an amended version of the bill on April 4 by a 108-3 vote with a revised title. S.B. 2144 heads back to the Senate for approval.

Free Museum, State Park Admission for Foster-Care Kids

Children in the foster-care system and their family members could soon gain free admission to publicly funded state parks and museums under Senate Bill 2244.

The bill also applies to kids under the age of 21 who are either in the legal custody of the Mississippi Department of Child Protective Services, live in residential child-care agencies or were adopted out of foster care.

The Senate passed S.B. 2244 on March 12 with a 52-0 vote. The House unanimously passed an amended version of the bill that corrected a small clerical error on April 4. S.B. 2244 goes back to the Senate for consideration.

Voting Rights, Gun Control Bills Die

Several bills the Mississippi Free Press has reported on previously also died on deadline last week.

Mississippi will not have early, in-person voting after House Apportionment and Elections Committee Chairman Rep. Noah Sanford, R-Collins, let the bill die in committee without a vote. Voters would have been able to cast their ballot in person up to 15 days before an election under the failed Senate Bill 2580.

Formerly incarcerated people convicted of certain disenfranchising crimes will not be able to regain voting rights after a bill the House passed died without a vote in the Senate Constitution Committee, led by Sen. Angela Burks Hill, R-Picayune. Mississippi’s old white supremacist leaders placed a provision in the Mississippi Constitution in 1890 that made certain nonviolent crimes they believed Black people were more likely to commit than white people disenfranchising crimes. After the state adopted that law as part of its constitution, along with other provisions like poll taxes and literacy tests, James K. Vardaman, one of its drafters, said “Mississippi’s constitutional convention of 1890 was held for no other purpose than to eliminate the n–ger from politics.”

A bill that would have prevented polling places from closing within 60 days of an election died in the Senate Elections Committee.

An effort to adopt fines for unhoused people who sleep, sit or set up personal property within 1,000 feet of sidewalks, parks, roads, schools, libraries or residential facilities failed after Senate Bill 2500 died in the House Judiciary A Committee.

Downtown Jackson will not be the home of a new casino after the sponsor of the bill, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Lamar, R-Senatobia, decided against bringing it up for a vote in his own committee.

The House Judiciary A Committee and the House Universities and Colleges Committee killed a bill that would have required police chiefs and police officers at colleges, universities and the Pearl River Valley Water Supply to complete 20 hours of continuing education courses.

Mississippi will not ban machine-gun conversion devices because Senate Bill 2627 died in the House Judiciary B committee.

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