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Sign Language Now Fulfills Mississippi’s High School Foreign Language Requirements: #MSLeg Roundup

Two men speak to each other over a podium in the Mississippi State Capitol.
Mississippi state Sen. David Parker, R-Olive Branch, right, answers a question from state Sen. Rod Hickman, D-Macon, left, during floor action in the Senate chamber, Tuesday, April 9, 2024, at the Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson, Miss. AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

High-school students will soon be able to take sign-language classes to fulfill their foreign language requirement under a bill Gov. Tate Reeves signed into law on April 15.

The State Board of Education will have to create a sign-language curriculum to supply to schools under Senate Bill 2339.

“Whatever language a child or young adult might choose to become proficient in, whether that be sign language or a language from another country, it will be beneficial to their learning and their ability to communicate with other people and, hopefully, advance their education,” Sen. David Parker, R-Olive Branch, told Sen. Rod Hickman, D-Macon, on the House floor on March 6.

Free College Transcripts for Foster-Care Kids

Children who are or were in the legal custody of the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services could get free transcripts from universities and community colleges under a bill Gov. Reeves signed into law on April 19.

Senate Bill 2244 says the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning and the community colleges’ board of trustees will have to enact policies to allow eligible children to get free transcripts. Former and current foster-care children can also get into state parks and museums for free under the new law.

Cardiac Emergency-Response Plan

K-12 schools will have to implement cardiac emergency-response plans and establish emergency-response teams to oversee the program under a bill Gov. Reeves signed into law on April 19.

Senate Bill 2349 says schools will work with local emergency services providers to develop a plan in the event that someone goes into cardiac arrest on campus or at a school-sponsored athletic event.

“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.

Medicaid Expansion in Conference

Medicaid expansion is still alive as House and Senate lawmakers continue negotiating to reach a plan both chambers can agree on. The House passed a full Medicaid expansion plan earlier this session that could cover 200,000 people, while the Senate passed a more restrictive plan that could cover 80,000 people or fewer. The Senate plan would not take effect unless the federal government approved strict work requirements.

Religious leaders and other groups supporting Medicaid expansion held rallies at the Capitol last week urging the Legislature to expand the program.

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