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By Representative Price Wallace
This is the third week of the 2022 Legislative Session. The deadline for introducing general bills and constitutional amendments was on Monday night, and committees will now begin discussing these bills in meetings. Although most work is still happening in committees, several pieces of legislation reached the House floor this week.
Senate Bill 2095, or the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act, was introduced to the House on Wednesday. The bill is a follow-up to Initiative 65, which was passed by Mississippi voters in November 2020 but was struck down by the Mississippi Supreme Court over a technicality in the ballot initiative process. SB 2095 outlines a medical marijuana program that will treat conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, ALS, Crohn’s Disease, glaucoma and seizures, to name a few. After a committee amendment was adopted by the House, the program will be overseen by the Department of Health, and eligible patients with a registry ID card will be able to purchase no more than six MCEUs (Medical Cannabis Equivalency Units) a week and no more than 28 MCEUs a month. Several House members introduced amendments to SB 2095, but all except the committee amendment failed. The final bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 105-14, and the bill has been returned to the Senate.
On Thursday, House Bill 770, or the Mississippi Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, was introduced to the House. The bill would require employers to pay employees the same amount for the same work done regardless of sex or gender. Equal pay is currently protected under federal law, but HB 770 would allow someone to file a suit in state court instead of going through the federal court. Mississippi is currently the only state without an equal pay law on the books. The bill passed overwhelmingly by 114-6 and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.
House Bill 813 would create the Mississippi Study on the Affordability of Insulin. Under the bill, the State Health Officer of the Department of Health would be required to conduct a study about the affordability of insulin for diabetes patients in the state and report the findings of the study to the Legislature by December 31, 2022. After adopting a committee amendment, the bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 113-5 and has been sent to the Senate.
The House passed House Concurrent Resolution 21 which authorizes a joint session of the Legislature next Tuesday evening to hear Governor Tate Reeves’s annual State of the State address. The address will take place on the south steps of the Capitol.
House Concurrent Resolution 8 also passed this week. HC 8 honors the Mississippi State Baseball team and congratulates them on winning the 2021 NCAA National Championship in June. The team is expected to visit the Capitol in a few weeks and will be presented with the concurrent resolution at that time.
Next week, committees will meet even more frequently as the Legislature approaches the next deadline. After Tuesday, Feb. 1, no additional bills will be added to the House calendar for consideration, and members will meet in session for longer periods to discuss the bills that have made it out of committees.
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