Welfare, other reform bills survive key deadline in Mississippi Legislature

Steve Wilson
Posted: Mar 23, 2016 10:21 AM
Welfare, other reform bills survive key deadline in Mississippi Legislature
Photo by Creative Commons

DEAD OR ALIVE: Another deadline passed Tuesday in the Mississippi Legislature.

Another deadline arrived Tuesday in the Mississippi Legislature, with committee action required on bills that originated in the other chamber. Any bill from the other house that didn’t receive committee approval is dead.

March 30 is the next deadline for floor action on bills from the other chamber, as the session winds down to its scheduled end on April 24.

Here’s a list of the bills of interest that either survived or died:

Civil Asset Forfeiture reform

A civil asset forfeiture reform bill, the Asset Forfeiture Transparency Act, was approved by the Senate Accountability, Efficiency, Transparency Committee on Tuesday and is headed to the full Senate for a vote. House Bill 1410 would require the state’s Commissioner of Public Safety to maintain a searchable database of all property and cash seized by state and local law enforcement agencies. ALIVE

Related: Civil asset forfeiture reform could be on tap for Mississippi

Welfare reform

An ambitious welfare reform package, known as the Act to Restore Hope, Opportunity and Prosperity for Everyone, was approved by the Senate Medicaid Committee on Monday. HB 1116 got a boost on March 17 when Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer arrived to meet with Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, House Speaker Philip Gunn and other leaders about how a similar welfare reform, with work requirements for able-bodied benefit recipients, helped get people off the welfare rolls and onto the tax rolls in Kansas.

“It’s actually something that everyone agreed on in 1996 with the Clinton welfare reforms,” Colyer told Mississippi Watchdog. “Forty-two states have waived out of those reforms. What we’re talking about is able-bodied adults having a simple work requirement. They asked us to visit with them and share our experience.”

Kansas tracked its welfare recipients after the work requirement and the results were startling. Their incomes increased 127 percent and 60 percent found work within 12 months of leaving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program  program.

HB 1116 also would strengthen anti-fraud protections on the SNAP and Temporary Assistance to Needy Family programs. ALIVE

Related: Mississippi welfare reform is halfway home

Jackson Airport takeover

Despite vocal opposition, Senate Bill 2162 passed Tuesday out of two House committees — Judiciary A, and Ports, Harbors and Airports — and is headed to the full House for a vote. The bill would create a nine-member board to manage Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport to replace the five-member board appointed by the mayor of Jackson. The bill was amended to require that five of the commissioners come from Jackson, with one appointed by Jackson’s mayor and one appointed by the City Council. The key change was a Jackson residency requirement on two of the governor’s picks and the lieutenant governor’s. With the head of the state’s National Guard and the director of the Mississippi Development Authority also sitting on the board, it’d give the governor the power to appoint four of the nine commissioners.  ALIVE

Related: Suburbs want say on Jackson airport’s operation

Parental Involvement and Accountability Act

HB 4, known as the Parental Involvement and Accountability Act, died in the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday. The controversial bill would have required teachers to grade parents’ involvement with their children’s education. DEAD

Related: Mississippi House passes bill requiring teachers to grade parents

Election reform

HB 797 would overhaul the state’s election system. It was approved by the Senate Elections Committee on Tuesday with an amendment that would end the practice of elected officials being able to to convert their leftover campaign cash into personal income when they leave office. ALIVE

Related: Mississippi campaign finance overhaul targets unitemized expenses

Related: Mississippi campaign finance laws allow golden parachute for politicians

Charter school expansion

HB 1044 would allow students in failing districts to cross district lines to attend charter schools. It was approved by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday. SB 2161, which would expand charter schools to non-failing districts, was approved by the House Education Committee last week. ALIVE

Related: A few tweaks, but it’s wait until next year for major school choice reforms in Mississippi

Contact Steve Wilson at swilson@watchdog.org. Get regular updates on Mississippi through our Facebook or Twitter accounts.