Legislative committees — Where bills go to die? What’s dead and what’s still alive?

Published 1:21 pm Thursday, February 2, 2023

Tuesday, Jan. 31, was the deadline to pass bills out of committee in the Mississippi Legislative chamber where they originated.

Bills that would have strengthened the state’s Open Meetings Act died in committee without a hearing.

Companion bills HB633 and SB2204 would have allowed a court hearing to possibly invalidate a public body’s action if the vote occurred during a meeting that violated the Open Meetings Act.

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SB2667 would have clarified that the Legislature is subject to the Open Meetings Act. This was called into question in 2022 after the state Ethics Commission ruled that the act did not necessarily apply. The commission’s decision came in a case where a Mississippi Free Press reporter was not allowed to attend a meeting of the House Republican Caucus. The reporter contended that since a majority of House members would be present, it constituted a quorum, and since official business would be discussed, the meeting should have been open to the public.

Stephanie Patton, a newspaper publisher and president of the Mississippi Press Association, expressed her disappointment.

“We are disappointed these important pieces of legislation were not given more careful consideration in the Legislature,” she said. “It’s more important than ever that the media and the public in general let their legislators know that the business of state government is the business of the people.”


Some of the bills introduced by Southwest Mississippi legislators also failed to survive committees.

Republican House members Becky Currie and Vince Mangold, both of Lincoln County, co-sponsored the Mississippi Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act (HB1127) with 15 other representatives. Created to prohibit providing gender transition procedures to minors, SAFE proved not to be safe from an early death behind committee doors.

Two other bills authored by Currie did not make it out of committee — HB320, which would authorize court-ordered support for unmarried pregnant women; and HB1146, the Mississippi Fatherhood Initiative Fund, which would have distributed grants to local governments and nonprofits that make parenting resources available to fathers.

Sen. Jason Barrett, another Brookhaven Republican, also lost some bills to committee deaths. SB2240 would have established a misdemeanor warrant management system. SB2241 was intended to prohibit registered sex offenders from being employed as first responders.

A companion bill to the House’s SAFE Act, The Mississippi Help Not Harm Act, SB2760, was also co-sponsored by Barrett, with 24 other senators.

Many bills did pass committee, however, and are still alive in the Legislature. Some of those authored by the Lincoln County lawmakers are:

  • SB2495 (Barrett, co-sponsor) — allow MDOC inmate to serve all/part of sentence in county requested by a sheriff or board of supervisors
  • SB2358 (Barrett, co-sponsor) — prohibit ballot harvesting
  • SC546 (Barrett) — concurrent resolution commending and congratulating the Brookhaven Academy girls softball team and Coach Lisa Covington for winning their second consecutive MAIS 5A state championship
  • HR32 (Currie, Mangold, co-sponsors) — resolution honoring the life and legacy of Army Air Force veteran Staff Sgt. Cecil Rhodes, of Brookhaven
  • HB772 (Currie, co-sponsor) —designate Mississippi Opal as the Official State Gemstone
  • HB279 (Currie) — prohibit TikTok on state-issued devices
  • HB1110 (Currie, co-sponsor) — create Second Amendment Financial Privacy Act to prohibit financial institutions from using a firearms code to discriminate against a customer, etc.
  • HB912 (Mangold, co-sponsor) — authorize manufacture and possession of firearm suppressors in Mississippi, and prohibit enforcement of federal laws on such