Legislative Update (6/25/20)
Thursday, June 25, 2020
Posted by: Kelly Riley
We are in the final days of the 2020 Legislative Session, although a great amount of work remains to be finished. As of this afternoon, conference reports had only been filed on 36 of the 189 bills that are in conference. Conferees have been named on the following bills we are tracking:
- HB 666 requires districts to provide Gifted Education for students in Grades 7 and 8. (House Conferees – Bennett, McCarty, Read; Senate Conferees – DeBar, Hopson, Boyd)
- SB 2286 expands our state’s Early Learning Collaboratives (Senate Conferees – DeBar, Wiggins, McMahan; House Conferees have not been named)
- HB 1700 is the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriation bill for K-12 education (House Conferees – Read, Bennett, Ladner; Senate Conferees – Hopson, DeBar, Blackwell)
The following distance learning and/or COVID-19 bills are among those still under consideration:
- HB 1786 establishes the Technology Instruction and Digital Access to Learning (TIDAL) Grant Program to be administered by MDE. HB 1786 provides $200 million (subject to appropriations) for implementation. MDE would develop the methodology to determine the amount of grants, based on need. HB 1786 has passed the House, but has not been considered in the Senate. Legislators will most likely negotiate a compromise between HB 1786 and SB 3044.
- SB 3044, the Equity in Distance Learning Act, authorizes MDE to provide guidance, technical support and financial reimbursement to schools to provide distance learning and online services. SB 3044 provides for $150 million (via a separate appropriation bill) to be allocated to schools based on 2019-2020 ADA. SB 3044 has passed the Senate and is in the House Rules Committee. Legislators will most likely negotiate a compromise between HB 1786 and SB 3044.
- SB 3046, the COVID-19 Connectivity Act, establishes a grant program to expand broadband service to unserved and underserved areas of the state. It has passed the Senate, but has not been considered in the House.
Lt. Governor Hosemann informed senators this afternoon that most of the appropriation bills will be considered this Saturday. Legislators only have a few days to adopt the budget for the new fiscal year which begins next Wednesday, July 1. Click here for our current bill tracking spreadsheet which reflects action as of 12:00 noon today.
There has been a huge momentum at the capitol this week to change the state flag. Before lawmakers can vote to change the flag, they need to secure a two-thirds majority to suspend the rules to consider a bill to do so. University presidents lobbied legislators Wednesday, while coaches and athletic directors from the state’s eight public universities did the same yesterday. The Mississippi Economic Council is leading the effort on behalf of corporations and businesses throughout our state. If the flag is not addressed in the coming days, it will most likely be January before the issue will be considered again.
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 Reeves signs HB 1700. He approved several education bills this week, including HB 1176 (increase maximum speed of school buses transporting students to 65 mph on interstate highways) and SB 2511 (revise the entry requirements for teacher prep programs to include a 21 ACT or 3.0 GPA or passing the Praxis Core).