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News & Press: Legislative News

2019 Legislative Session Ends

Friday, April 5, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kelly Riley
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The 2019 Legislative Session concluded last Friday, March 29.  Click here for our latest bill tracking spreadsheet which reflects a number of bills signed into law by the governor.

 

Lt. Governor Inserts Additional Funds for Vouchers into DFA Bill

As shared in our second post last Thursday evening, the Lt. Governor inserted an additional $2 million in new funding for vouchers in SB 3049, the Department of Finance and Administration’s appropriation bill.  SB 3049 was held on a motion to reconsider last Thursday in both the Senate and the House. 

 

The House convened at 8:00 last Friday morning and a motion was quickly made to table the motion to reconsider that chamber’s vote on SB 3049.  The motion to table was an attempt keep the voucher funding in the bill and send it onto the governor.  Thus, legislators voting “yea” on a motion to table supported the voucher funding in the DFA bill, while those voting “nay” opposed the voucher funding.  The House voted on three different motions to table before the House leadership had twisted enough arms and garnered enough votes to send the bill to the governor with the voucher funding:

 

  • Click here to see the first House vote which failed by a vote of 51 yeas to 58 nays. 
  • Click here to see the second House vote which resulted in a 56-56 tie.  The following House members flipped and voted in favor of keeping the voucher funding in the bill on this second vote:  Randy Boyd of Mantachie, Steve Hopkins of Southaven, Randall Patterson of Biloxi, Price Wallace of Mendenhall, and Stacey Wilkes of Picayune.  Rep. Scott DeLano voted “Nay” on the first vote and voted “Present” on this second vote. Neither Rep. Michael Evans of Preston and nor Ray Rogers of Pearl voted the first time, but both voted “Nay” on the second vote.
  • Click here to see the third and final 55-51 vote which kept the voucher funding in the bill.  The following seven representatives flipped and did not vote this third time:  Credell Calhoun of Jackson (voted “nay” on the second vote), Scott DeLano of Biloxi (voted “Present” on the second vote), Kevin Horan of Grenada (voted “yea” on the second vote), Steve Horne of Meridian (voted “nay” on the second vote), William Shirley of Quitman (voted “nay” on the second vote), Gary Staples of Laurel (voted “nay” on the second vote), and Preston Sullivan of Okolona (voted “nay” on the second vote). 

 

(NOTE:  As of yesterday afternoon, April 4, none of these votes are posted online in the legislative bill tracking system.)

 

Word is that the Speaker pressured individual members and threatened funding for various projects in their districts until he had enough votes to keep the voucher funding in the bill.  Multiple votes such as those above are indicative of such tactics.

 

We don’t have a recorded vote in the Senate because Lt. Governor Tate Reeves, the presiding officer of that chamber, only took a voice vote and ignored senators’ calls for a roll call vote which would have recorded each senator’s vote on the issue. 

 

Several of our guests at last Saturday’s symposium asked how legislators could vote on a bill without knowing what was in it.  Click here for an insightful article by veteran capitol reporter Bobby Harrison which recaps developments surrounding the voucher funding, including who knew that the funding had been inserted into the DFA bill and the minimal time members had to review the bill. 

 

K-12 Appropriation and Notices of Nonrenewal

As reflected on our bill tracking spreadsheet, HB 1643 (the K-12 appropriation bill) is due from the governor by April 19.  In accordance with state law, school districts must give notice of nonrenewal on or before April 15 OR within 10 calendar days of the governor approving the appropriation bill, whichever date is later.  We will notify our members as soon as Governor Bryant signs HB 1643.

 

State Law Prohibits Strikes

Finally, there is a lot of talk, particularly on social media, suggesting that teachers go on strike.  As shared previously, state law (MISS. CODE ANN. Section 37-9-75) prohibits strikes, concerted work stoppages, and concerted refusals to perform duties.  Any certified teacher who does such shall be terminated and may not be reemployed as a teacher by any public school district in our state.  The law also provides that organizations may not promote strikes. This law was passed after the 1985 strike and it is purely retaliatory in nature, but it is the law.

 

As a professional association, MPE cannot advise our members to participate in an illegal activity.  We have a responsibility to educate our members as to the provisions of state law.  Our members will then make their own individual decisions. 

 

Rather than striking, we are urging our members to become more engaged and to hold their legislators accountable, especially via your votes in upcoming elections.  While some legislators don’t face opponents, they should still be accountable to you, their constituent, for their votes.  Have you called your senator and representative to share your thoughts, concerns, and comments? Click here for contact information for legislators.  Have you posted your thoughts – in a professional manner – on their social media accounts?  Do you have a bumper sticker on your car demonstrating your support for your preferred candidate?  Have you written a letter to the editor of your local paper with your thoughts on the pay raise or the deceptive tactics used by legislative leaders to insert additional funding for vouchers into the DFA bill?  Have you volunteered for your favorite candidate’s campaign? You have the right to do all of these things!

 

In the coming weeks, MPE will provide several resources to assist our members in strengthening their advocacy skills, including releasing our Advocacy Guide for Educators.  We will also compile a summary of critical legislative votes from the past four years for your reference in posing questions to candidates.  We will also have #BlueForMSteachers t-shirts and car decals available.  As always, we welcome your thoughts and comments. You may email them to Kelly@mpe.org.