On Wednesday at the Capitol, Governor Phil Bryant signed four different bills into law. The include: The Criminal Justice Reform, School Safety Act, Landowner Protection Act and Tourism Promotion Act. He was joined by other lawmakers and business people.

Criminal Justice Reform

The first bill signed by the Governor on Wednesday morning was the Criminal Justice Reform Act or, HB 1352. The legislation will expand the use of drug courts in the state and reduce any barriers someone leaving the state’s prison system may face when trying to secure employment. It also allows for more people with nonviolent offenses to apply for a one-time exponent to improve their chances to find work.

The bill was sponsored by Representative Jason White.

School Safety Act

The School Safety Act, or HB 1283, was designed to give students, teachers and administrators the tools they need in the event of an active shooter attack. The legislation would allow school administrators to use things like “active shooter drills” to prepare students and staff in the event that one happens. This is similar to fire drills, tornado drills etc.

The bill was authored by Rep. Mark Baker and was met with some concern in both the House in Senate. Some were concerned that these drills would be too abrasive for some students to participate in and several amendments were offered to change that.

One amendment that did pass, was made by Rep. Paden and addressed regulatory mental health screenings of school students and administrators.

Landowner Protection Act

The Landowner Protection Act, SB 2901, was created with the intention of protecting a landowner or business owner from frivolous lawsuits.

The bill was authored by Senator Harkins, with several other contributors. The authors say the intent of the bill is to protect property owners from liability in the event a criminal act takes place on their property by a third party.

There were disagreements between lawmakers as to whether or not the bill was sound enough as was originally conceived.

Most Republicans were in favor of the bill conceptually.  However, trial lawyer interests lobbied hard and muddied the water in the later stages of debate in the House and Senate.

Tourism Promotion Act

Finally, the Governor singed the Tourism Promotion Act, SB 2193. This bill, supported by the Mississippi Tourism Association, created a permanent funding source for tourism in the state.

It specified that 1% of total revenue collected from restaurant and hotel sales tax revenues statewide was dedicated to marketing beginning in fiscal year 2020. These funds will be used to enhance available tourism advertising dollars at Visit Mississippi (MDA).

The funding dedication will increase to 2% of total revenue in fiscal year 2021 and to 3% in fiscal year 2022 collected from restaurant and hotel sales tax revenues statewide. For each year thereafter, this dedication will remain at 3%.