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Senate Constituent Report | SCT Online

Senate Constituent Report | SCT Online
Written by publisher team

This week the Senate moved House bills on the floor and met the March 1 deadline for committees to pass general bills originating in the House of Representatives. To continue making Mississippi teachers’ salaries competitive and attractive, the Senate passed House Bill 530, the “Strategically Accelerating the Recruitment and Retention of Teachers, START), Act of 2022.” This bill added Senate language to raise teacher salaries by over $230 million across two years. Under the legislation, teachers would receive a $4,800 raise on average through the base pay salary schedule after a two-year phase-in. In addition to raises to teachers, the legislation added a $2,000 raise over two years for teachers’ assistants. The base salary schedule does not include any local supplements teachers receive or state supplements, like extra compensation to locate in critical needs areas or become a National Board-Certified Teacher.

House Bill 1006 was amended to create “the Mississippi Healthcare Workforce Development Program, the Mississippi Nursing Preceptor Grant Program, and the Mississippi Health Science Training Infrastructure Grant Program, whose goal is, “working with community colleges, institutions of higher learning and employers, to provide education and training to help Mississippians find employment in the nursing field.”

House Bill 1005 was amended to create the “Hospital Nurses and Respiratory Therapist Retention Loan Repayment Program,” for new nursing and respiratory therapist graduates to be administered by the State Financial Aid Board.” It would give up to $3,000 a year for three years to 150 new registered nurse applicants, 50 new licensed practical nurse applicants and 25 new respiratory therapist applicants working in a “general acute care hospital in the state.”

Passage of House Bill 1029 will create the seven-member appointed “Mississippi Broadband Commission,” to oversee the spending of $162 million in federal money for expansion of broadband internet service across the state.

House Bill 779 amends the Law Enforcement Death Benefits Trust Fund to extend the $100,000 line of duty death benefit to rural volunteer firefighters and covers COVID-19 related deaths. It also transfers $5 million from the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund to the Law Enforcement Officers and Fire Fighters Death Benefits Trust Fund.

House Bill 453 was amended to create the “COVID-19 Destination Marketing Organization Grant Program,” that would issue $10 million per year over three years to tourism agencies.

House Bill 1425 was amended to create the “Mississippi Water Infrastructure Grant Program Act of 2022.” It will set aside $750 million from the state’s $1.8 billion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funds to create within the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, the Mississippi Municipality and County Water Infrastructure Grant Program under which municipalities and counties may apply for reimbursement for investments in water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure.

Other bills passed included:

• House Bill 1408 increases salaries of sheriffs by $6,000.

• House Bill 1523 allows the City of Saltillo to authorize a 2-percent tourism tax on hotels, motels, and restaurants if voters approve the measure in November.

• House Bill 823 requires commercial electronic fence installers to purchase a $350 license from the state.

• House Bill 514 extends the prison-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation program at

the Bolivar County Regional Facility for up to 250 inmates “designed to reduce substance abuse by inmates, correct dysfunctional thinking and behavioral patterns, and prepare inmates to make a successful and crime-free readjustment to the community.”

• House Bill 515 extends the Prison Overcrowding Emergency Powers Act, that seeks to lower populations in part by “advancement of parole eligibility dates,” for reformed inmates who qualify.

The Senate honored the Mississippi State University baseball team with Senate Concurrent Resolution 514 for clinching the 2021 National Collegiate Athletic Association College World Series Title.

The Senate faces a Wednesday, March 9, 2022, deadline for original floor action on general bills and constitutional amendments originating in the House of Representatives. As always, I appreciate you allowing me to serve you.

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