After an unprecedented legislative session, the Mississippi House of Representatives and the State Senate adjourned sine die on Friday, October 2, 2020 in accordance with House Concurrent Resolution 69.
When HC 69 was passed earlier in the session, the Legislature was given six days to meet and pass bills related to the global pandemic of COVID-19 (coronavirus)before October 10. The final two days were used this week to appropriate the remainder of the CARES Act funds received from the federal government.
House Bill 1812 (authored by Gulf Coast Appropriations Committee Chair John Read) appropriated $10 million to the Wireless Communication Commission for upgrades to their network. The WCC controls the Mississippi Wireless Information Network, a public safety radio communication platform used by first responders and emergency personnel. HB 1812 passed the House unanimously by a vote of 116-0, passed the Senate and has been sent to the Governor for signing.
House Bills 1809 and 1810 created the Rental Assistance Grant Program and appropriated $20 million to fund the program. Landlords can apply for grants up to $30,000 to cover losses incurred due to the pandemic when evictions were suspended. Both bills passed with bipartisan support.
Additionally, two more pieces of legislation passed that appropriated CARES funds to hospitals. House Bill 1813 appropriated $4 million to the MS Department of Health to reimburse specialty hospitals affected by COVID-19. Senate Bill 3060 appropriated $10 million for hospitals to use on Intensive Care Units, including additional beds and adding negative pressure rooms.
Senate Bill 3059 appropriated $10 million to the Mississippi Veterans Affairs Board for use in state veterans’ homes, which were greatly impacted by the pandemic. SB 3059 passed the House unanimously by a vote of 115-0.
Senate Bills 3058 and 3061 (cosponsored by Philip Moran R-Pass Christian, Kiln, DeLisle) both appropriated funds to farmers who suffered losses due to the pandemic. This included $3 million set aside for poultry farmers and another $500,000 for sweet potato farmers. Both bills passed by votes of 115-0.
This concluded the 2020 Legislative Session. The session was originally set to end on May 3, but after the global pandemic and resulting shutdowns, it became a nine-month session. The 2021 Legislative Session will convene in about three months.