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Key bills survive first deadline in Mississippi Legislature

Tuesday was the biggest deadline so far for the Legislature, as bills needed to be approved by committees in the originating chamber.

Here are some of the bills that are alive, one that survives as a joint resolution and the others that didn't make the first cut:

Still alive

House Bill 344 would increase the state's gasoline tax and is sponsored by state Rep. Robert Johnson III (D-Natchez). It has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and likely won't make it to the full House for a vote.

HB 957 would rewrite the state's education funding formula, known as the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, with a base student cost and financial weights for low income, gifted, English language learners and gifted students. It was sponsored by House Speaker Philip Gunn (R-Clinton) and is already in the hands of the Senate.

HB 1058 would establish an Office of Shared Services with the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration to handle accounts payable and payable functions from occupational licensing boards and commissions. The bill is sponsored by state Rep. John Read (R-Gautier).

Senate Bill 2482 would prohibit elected officials from appearing in publicly-funded television advertisements during election years and is sponsored by state Sen. John Polk (R-Hattiesburg), who chairs the Senate Accountability, Efficiency, Transparency Committee. A similar bill by state Rep. Mark Baker (R-Brandon) died in committee.

SB 2608, sponsored by state Sen. Sally Doty (R-Brookhaven), would allow public and non-profit hospitals to collect debts against a debtor's state income tax refund. A debtor would have 30 days to respond to the Mississippi Department of Revenue to ask for a hearing to dispute the finding.

SB 2623, sponsored by Senate Education Committee chairman Gray Tollison (R-Oxford), would expand the state's education scholarship account program from just children with special needs to all children in the state. A version by state Rep. Charles Busby (R-Pascagoula) died in the House.

Bring on the clones

HB 127, sponsored by Hank Zuber (R-Ocean Springs), would limit the introduction of general (non-revenue) bills to even-numbered years. This would reduce the amount of time required for the Legislature to meet. Zuber let the bill die and the same measure will be considered by the rules committee as a joint resolution that would amend the rules of both houses.

See you next session

HB 98 would've allowed direct sales and shipments of wine to state residents and was authored by state Rep. Charles Busby (R-Pascagoula). It died in committee.

HB 251 would've eliminated any employee convicted of job-related felonies from the state's retirement system known as the Public Employees' Retirement System. The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Randy Rushing (R-Decatur). Senate Bill 2107 is similar and was sponsored by Tollison. Both died in committee.

HB 360 would've prevented state agencies from dividing up competitive contracts to get around state purchasing laws and is sponsored by state Rep. Jerry Turner (R-Baldwyn). Died in committee.

HB 411 would've requirde the phasing out of state graduation testing and its replacement with the ACT test. State Rep. Gary Chism (R-Columbus) is the bill's sponsor. A similar bill, HB 24, was sponsored by state Rep. Tom Miles (D-Forest). Both died in committee.

The Legislature won't be considering any change in the state's sales tax disbursements to cities after Tuesday's deadline. House Bill 691, authored by House Speaker pro temp Greg Snowden (R-Meridian), would've increased the amount of sales tax revenue that goes to municipalities from the present rate 18.5 percent to 20 percent by 2020. A similar bill by Rushing was also filed. Both died in committee.

HB 1480 would've dispersed use tax revenues, which now remain in the state's general fund, to cities at the same rate as the sales tax (now 18.5 percent). Died in committee.

HB 1519 would've scaled back the state's Certificate of Need program that regulates the building of hospitals, clinics and surgical centers. Died in committee.

SB 2101 would've allowed certified nurse practitioners to practice without a collaborating physician if they have 3,600 hours of clinical practice. Two similar bills from the House — HB 338 and HB 994 — would do the same thing. All four died in committee

HB 1292 would create a debtor's prison in Mississippi for those who don't pay fines, fees and assessments. State Rep. Adrienne Wooten (D-Ridgeland) sponsored the bill. Died in committee.

HB 130 would designate the Bible as the state's official book and was authored by state Rep. Tom Miles (D-Forest). Died in committee.

HB 464 would mandate that the state's three NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision schools — Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Miss — would have to retain 33 percent of bowl revenues and provide them for graduating seniors. State Rep. Omeria Scott (D-Laurel) sponsored the bill and it will likely return next session. Died in committee.

HB 591 would've designated venomous snakes as dangerous to humans. Died in committee.

HB 592 would've designated Queen of the South as the state's second official song and was sponsored by state Rep. Tom Weathersby (R-Florence). Died in committee.

SB 2025 would designate Meet My Mississippi by Patricia Neely-Dorsey as the state's official poem. Died in committee.

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