On Tuesday, deadline day to move all general bills received from the Senate out of committee and onto the House Calendar, the majority of House committees met and worked hard to clear their committee agendas of any bills.
Wednesday and Thursday, members covered a lot of ground on the House floor as they addressed numerous Senate bills, many mirroring previous House bills. Many of the Senate bills that passed adopted the “Strike-All Amendment” put in place by House members. When a “Strike-All Amendment” is adopted, the House language is inserted into the Senate version of the bill. In most instances, the language between the two chambers is identical, except for minor changes. However in other instances, the nature of the bill is changed more dramatically. In either case, the bill goes to “conference,” whereas three members from each chamber meet to reach a compromise on the wording of the bill.
Some of those bills taken up include:
Senate Bill 2829 (SB2829) authorizes the 15 community mental health centers in Mississippi to begin seeing primary care patients. Because access to healthcare in some areas of Mississippi is limited, this provision would allow mental healthcare physicians the authority to also treat patients for primary healthcare needs. Each clinic would have an opportunity to invest in this practice or refrain from it as no money is being appropriated. Members passed the bill unanimously.
Senate Bill 2394 (SB2394) allows corporations to purchase public lands sold or forfeited to the state for delinquent taxes. This legislation addresses, specifically in urban areas, condemned and run down properties. Purchase of these properties may help revitalize areas. The bill passed by a vote of 95-21.
House members addressed and passed four bills that specifically dealt with unions.
–Senate Bill 2689 (SB2689) prohibits local governments from limiting background checks by employers. This bill allows background checks by employers and will prevent any subdivision of government from putting in place something that will prevent employers from conducting those background checks. The bill passed by a vote of 73-43.
–Senate Bill 2473 (SB2473) creates the “Prohibition Against Employer Intimidation Act.” This act would prohibit organizations and individuals from harassing, making threats, damaging property of businesses. Members voted to pass the bill 69-52 after passing an amendment that prohibits treble (triple) damages.
–Senate Bill 2653 (SB2653) deals with mass picketing. It would forbid labor unions, unions or their agencies from mass picketing of a residence or place of business if doing so interferes with entering or exiting the residence or business. Members voted 68-53 to pass the bill.
–Senate Bill 2797 (SB2797) establishes the “Mississippi Employment Fairness Act.” It maintains that the state of Mississippi shall retain exclusive authority to require an employer to accept any provisions of a labor peace agreement or a project labor agreement. The bill passed by a vote of 78-41.
Mississippi House of Representatives