Legislative Update (6/18/20)
Thursday, June 18, 2020
Posted by: Kelly Riley
State Economist Dr. Darrin Webb informed the Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) this past Monday that the national economic outlook is brighter than originally expected. Following this report, the JLBC reduced the state’s revenue estimate by about $300 million for the upcoming fiscal year which begins July 1. Next year’s cuts should be smaller than originally anticipated and legislators plan to dip into the state’s Rainy Day Fund to cover any shortfalls in the current fiscal year which expires on June 30.
Senate Education met Wednesday and passed SB 3044, the Equity in Distance Learning Act. This general bill authorizes MDE to provide guidance, technical support and financial reimbursement to schools to provide distance learning and online services. Allocations will be made to schools based on 2019-2020 ADA. While the intent is for the legislature to appropriate $150 million from the state’s Coronavirus relief funds, that funding would be provided in a separate appropriation bill. SB 3044 requires schools to equip every student with a grade-appropriate device, as recommended by MDE, before incurring other eligible expenses. The full Senate passed SB 3044 earlier today with two amendments, so the bill now heads to the House for consideration.
As you may recall, Governor Reeves nominated Nancy Collins to serve on the State Board of Education and she has been attending meetings since January. A nurse by trade, Collins served in the Mississippi State Senate from 2012-2016, but lost her reelection bid to Senator Chad McMahan due in large part to her support of vouchers and her efforts to make significant changes to the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS). Senate Education held her confirmation hearing this morning and tabled her nomination, thereby killing it. Lt. Governor Hosemann will now make a new appointment to the State Board.
Wednesday was the deadline for floor action on general bills originating in the other chamber. Here is a quick update on several of the bills we are tracking:
- HB 666 requires districts to provide Gifted Education for students in Grades 7 and 8. It is headed to conference.
- As passed the Senate, SB 2286 expanded the Early Learning Collaboratives. The House passed a strike all amendment for SB 2286 replacing the bill’s language with the Community Schools language from HB 1139 that had died on the calendar. SB 2286 now heads back to the Senate for that chamber to either agree with the House amendment or invite conference on the bill.
- The House did not amend SB 2594, so it now heads to Governor Reeves for his consideration. The bill amends current law governing the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act (i.e., SPED vouchers) and strengthens the accountability of this program and its funding.
- SB 2511 is due from Governor Reeves by June 23. The bill revises the entry requirements for teacher prep programs to include a 21 ACT or 3.0 GPA or passing the Praxis Core.
- SB 3013 and HB 1751 both provide CARES Act funding to schools, community colleges and universities for COVID-19 expenses. Conference has been invited on both bills, so a compromise should be reached between the two.
Changing the state flag continues to be discussed at the capitol. Click here for a statement from the MPE Board of Directors regarding the flag which we shared with Governor Reeves, Lt. Governor Hosemann, and Speaker Gunn earlier today.
Click here for our bill tracking spreadsheet which reflects action as of 3:00 this afternoon. July 2 is the deadline for each chamber to concur in amendments made by the other chamber on general bills or to invite conference on those bills.