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From the Desk of the Chairwoman


Welcome to our Week 8 Review! The eighth week proved to be one of the busiest weeks of the 2020 Regular Session and we’re excited to provide this review.

This newsletter will give you insight and updates on the status of some very important bills, including SB 2257. Representative Dortch also sat down to discuss the purpose behind his proposed TANF reforms.

We welcomed students, faculty, staff and alumni of Mississippi Valley State University to the Capitol and had the opportunity to discuss the pressing needs of our HBCUs in Mississippi. We also have highlights from the 55th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama.

Please remember to share this newsletter with members in your community. Also, stay in touch with us via FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Give us a follow and share our updates with your personal network.

Thank you for allowing us to serve you!

Senator Angela Turner Ford
Chair, Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus

Weekly Updates

From the Senate

Senators spent the eighth week attending committee meetings and speaking with constituents seeking help for various reasons, including securing legislation to aid their causes.

The senate welcomed Mississippi Valley State University President Jerryl Briggs Sr., and a host of campus leaders during Mississippi Valley State Day at the Capitol, on Tuesday, February 25, 2020.

From the House:

Committees met frequently during the eighth week of the legislative session, as Tuesday’s deadline to have House Bills out of their corresponding committees quickly approaches.

  • After Tuesday, March 3, no additional general bills will be added to the House calendar for consideration. Members will also meet in session for longer periods of time to discuss the bills that have made it out of their respective committees.

Senate Bill 2257:

  • The bill will authorize the State Auditor’s office to examine tax returns of individuals who receive federal benefits like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid.
  • Proponents of the bill say that the State Auditor requested the bill to comply with a federal mandate, but tax returns are not necessary for this type of audit and the bill would unfairly target poor Mississippians. After much debate, SB 2257 passed 76-45 and has been returned to the Senate. The Caucus heavily opposed the bill on the House floor.

House Bill 1259:

  • The bill would have allowed proprietary schools to submit certain debts owed to them to the Department of Revenue for collection through a setoff against the debtors’ Mississippi income tax refund.
  • HB 1259 failed by a vote of 56-61.

Several bills did pass through the House relatively uncontested.

  • House Bill 1253 is a bill that designates the State Fire Academy as an authorized medical first responder training program. The bill passed unanimously by a vote of 121-0 and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.
  • House Bill 1559 creates a special fund in the State Treasury called the “Victims of Human Trafficking and Commercial Exploitation Fund.” This special fund will go towards assisting specialized human trafficking and sexual exploitation shelters. Currently, there is only one shelter of this type in the state. The bill passed with a vote of 90-20.
  • House Bill 1371 would make various changes to the Division of Driver Services in the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. Some of these changes would include modernizing driver’s license kiosks around the state and updating the license renewal website to make the process more streamlined and transparent. The bill passed after a bipartisan vote of 117-3 and has been sent to the Senate.

On the Issues

Representative Jarvis Dortch has introduced several pieces of legislation during the 2020 Legislative Session that address long overdue, necessary TANF reform. Here he explains why we need the reform.

Rep. Dortch discusses the purpose behind proposed TANF reforms.

Your Caucus in Action

Caucus members paid homage during the 55th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama. The event included a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Pictured below are Caucus Chair Senator Angela Turner Ford and Vice Chair Representative Kabir Karriem.

Representatives Zakiya Summers joined the Boys & Girls Club of Central Mississippi at the grand opening of Firestone in Brandon, MS. BGC-Central MS received a $1000 donation.
Senator Derrick Simmons stops for a photo with Mississippi Valley State University students LaShon Brooks, Brandon McCall, III (SGA President), Arlencia Barnes (Miss MVSU) and University President Dr. Jerryl Briggs.
Rep. Summers with representatives from Keep Mississippi Beautiful and First Lady Reeves.

MLBC In the News

Bill dubbed an ‘attack on poor people’ passes out of House 

Caucus Members of the Week

Senator Derrick T. SimmonsSenator Simmons is a trial lawyer and is affiliated with the American Bar Association, National Bar Association, Mississippi Bar, Magnolia Bar, District of Columbia Bar and Greenville Rotary Club. Senator Simmons is a Mason, life member of NAACP, and life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Senator Simmons also sits on the Mississippi Technology Alliance Liaison Committee.

Senator Simmons was born December 12, 1976 in Greenville, MS. He is married to the former CuWanda Flowers and is of the Baptist faith. They have two children, Derrick, Jr. (“DJ”) and Carter Jace.

Committee Membership:

  • Enrolled Bills – Chair
  • Constitution – Vice-Chair
  • Corrections
  • Finance
  • Insurance
  • Interstate and Federal Cooperation
  • Judiciary, Division A
  • Judiciary, Division B
  • Ports and Marine Resources
  • Wildlife, Fisheries and Park
Representative Alyce G. Clark

Representative Clarke is affiliated with Alpha Kappa Alpha, Alcorn Alumni, Jack & Jill of America, Inc., MS Public Health Association, Regional Association of Drug Free Schools and Communities and State PTA.

Representative Clarke was born in Yazoo City and is married to Lee William Clarke, Jr. She is of the Baptist faith.

Committee Membership:

  • Appropriations
  • Banking and Financial Services
  • Drug Policy
  • Education
  • Gaming
  • Universities and Colleges
  • Youth and Family Affairs


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