2018 Equality Legislative Agenda

EXTENDING EQUALITY TO ALL MISSISSIPPIANS

Supporting protections for all Mississippians regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, familial status or immigrant status in all facets of societal life is true hospitality and the right thing to do. Mississippians should not face discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, health care, state government programs, or education. Religion should never be used as a tool of discrimination. In our continued fight for equality for all, the ACLU of MS will again advocate for the Mississippi Civil Rights Act with two additional pieces of legislation that strengthen current law. HB 545 is designed to protect all Mississippians from discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, immigrant status, disability, gender identity, and sexual orientation. We are also asking the legislature to add sexual orientation and gender identity protections for current and future state employees (HB 596/SB 2489) and to those seeking housing (HB 597).


Here are the Equality/Equal Access bills we're tracking this legislative session:

Support

HB 5 - Motor vehicle license plates; increase number of special that may be issued to a person with a disability which limits ability to walk

Description: Additional license plate tags for citizens with disabilities

Our Position: This bill allows for more disability license plates be provided for a person with disabilities and their families, making it easier for that person with disabilities to have access to transportation. We support this measure because it gives those with disabilities and families of those with disabilities more flexibility in their transportation options. 

HB 33 - undocumented students; allow to attend college at in-state tuition rates subject to certain conditions.

Description: Allow undocumented immigrants in-state tuition

Our Position: This bill would allow that certain undocumented students be eligible for in-state tuition provided that they can prove residency. We support this bill because everyone should have equal access to education, regardless of immigration status. 

HB 96 - Mississippi State Workforce Investment Board; expand membership to include a woman and require gender equity in certain workforce development systems

Description: Establishing gender equality on workforce board

Our Positon: We support this bill because it is a step toward gender equity and equal pay. 

HB 125 - School curriculum; require voter education as a component of the U.S. Government course.

Our Position: This bill would create a component of curriculum that would inform students about the voting process and about their voting rights. We support education initiatives that inform students of their rights. 

HB 146 - Health; State Health Officer shall develop program to close the gap in health status of gender and racial groups.

Our Position: This bill takes steps to diminish the health disparities among racial groups in Mississippi. We support this bill because it works toward racial and gender equity. 

HB 202 - Disabilities, persons with; modernize terminology used to refer to.

Our Position: This bill would have replaced certain offensive terminology used in the legislature to refer to those with disabilities. All human beings deserve the right to be treated with respect.

HB 545 - Mississippi Civil Rights Act

Description: Establishes state civil rights protections for all Mississippians

Our Position: A part of our 2018 Legislative Agenda, the Mississippi Civil Rights Act would mandate that all citizens of Mississippi be given the same fundamental human rights, offering protections for them when those rights are violated.

HB 596 & SB 2489 - State employees protections

Description: State service employees; prohibit sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination of.

Our Position: As part of our 2018 Legislative Agenda, we are advocating for this bill to extend protections to LGBT state employees inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity. We believe that Mississippians should not fear firing from their place of employment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 
 
HB 597 - Housing protections
 
Description: Mississippi Home Corporation Act; prohibit sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination from occurring in connection with.
 
Our Position: As part of our 2018 Legislative Agenda, this bill will add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in the housing sector, preventing discrimination against the LGBTQ community.
 
HB 618 - Religious Freedom Act; repeal along with Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act.
 
Description: A repeal of HB 1523
 
Our Position: This law repeals 2016's HB 1523, the most egregious anti-LGBT law in the United States. We support any effort to overturn this discriminatory law. 
 
HB 717 - Equal pay for equal work; require for employees of opposite sex in the same work establishment.
 
Our Position: This bill requires that all workers be paid the same amount for the same type of work, regardless of their gender. We support this bill because equality means that workers should be paid the same wage for the same work.
 
HB 864 & HB 1257 - The Evelyn Gandy Fair Pay Act; create.
 
Description: Creates equal pay for equal work, closing the gender wage gap.
 
Our Position: This legislation will make it illegal for employers to use gender as a means for deciding wage, prohibiting wage discrimination in the workplace.
 
HB 1075, 1462 & SB 2576 - Sexual orientation; add to hate crimes for enhanced penalties.
 
Description: Additional Hate Crimes
 
Our Position: This bill would add to sexual orientation as criteria for application of the hate crime law. This bill is a step in the right direction for LGBT equality.
 
SB 2489 - State Employee Protection from Discrimination
 
Description: Amendment adds sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in 
 
Our Position: This bill adds sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes for state employees. Adding these protections would help to protect these Mississippians from housing discrimination. This bill stands for equal rights for all Mississippians.
 
SB 2511 - Mississippi Pay Equity Act; prohibit wage discrimination based on gender.
 
Description: Gender-based pay discrimination
 
Our Position: This legislation would require that all employees be paid an equal wage for equal work, regardless of gender. This bill is consistent with our focus area of equality for all Mississippians, as it would prohibit wage discrimination in the workplace.
 
SB 2828 - "Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act"; repeal.
 
Description: Repeal of HB 1523
 
Our Position: This law repeals 2016's HB 1523, the most egregious anti-LGBT law in the United States. We support any effort to overturn this discriminatory law.
 
SB 2829 - Protection against discrimination; expand for housing and state employment.
 
Description: Expand state protections
 
Our Position: This bill expands state protections to add sexual orientation and gender identity in the sectors of housing and state employment. No one should have to fear eviction or termination of employment due to living as their true self. 
 
SB 2933 - Mississippi Civil Rights Act
 
Description: Create state civil rights protections
 
Our Position: The Mississippi Civil Rights Act mandates that all citizens of Mississippi be given the same fundamental human rights, offering protections for them when those rights are violated. Mississippians should not be forced to seek redress in federal courts when they are wronged at home.
 

Oppose

HB 45 - Abortion; provide that inducing or performing is unlawful.

Our Position: This bill criminalizes legal abortion.  This legislation would make an abortion, even at the earliest stage of pregnancy, an act of wrongful death. A woman should have the right to control her health choices, and those choices should not be criminalized

HB 107 - Pledge of Allegiance; fine schools that fail to recite daily within the first hour of class.

Our Position: This bill requires that all students stand and recite the pledge of allegiance. We oppose this bill because it is a direct violation of First Amendment free speech rights. 

HB 130 - Holy Bible; designate as the official state book of Mississippi.

Our Position: This legislation violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The recognition of any sacred book of a designated religion is a government endorsement of that religion.

HB 226 - Abortion; prohibit after heartbeat is detectable.

Our Position: This bill criminalizes legal abortion.  This legislation would make an abortion illegal at first detectable heartbeat, which is at around 6-7 weeks. Many women don’t even realize they are pregnant within such a short time period. A woman should have the right to control her health choices, and those choices should not be criminalized.

HB 472 - Public benefits; require drug testing for all recipients of state or local funded benefits.

Description: Mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients 

Our Position: Recipients of public benefits already struggle with economic hardship. Creating a mandate for drug testing to receive economic assistance is an unfair standard to apply to citizens in need. Such a bill runs afoul of the basic tenants of the Preamble to US Constitution, securing individual liberties and promoting the general welfare.

HB 100 & HB 1409 - Public schools; require moment of quiet reflection each day and classroom display and daily recitation of Ten Commandments.

Description: Require the display of the 10 Commandments

Our Position: These bills require a period of prayer to begin each school day. Requiring school prayer in public schools is a violation of the First Amendment. HB 1409 also forces classrooms to display and recite the 10 commandments, which is a violation of the Establishment Clause. These bills are in direct opposition to free speech rights. 

HB 1506 - Illegal immigration; strengthen enforcement provisions to prevent.

Description: Mandated cooperation with ICE

Our Position: This bill forces local police forces to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which puts heavy financial burdens on local law enforcement agencies. This bill also requires that schools check students’ immigration statuses, in violation of Department of Justice and Department of Education guidelines. Immigration enforcement is the sole purview of the federal government. This legislation is outside the scope of Article X of the US Constitution.

HB 1508 - "The Mississippi First Higher Education Act"; enact to remove affirmative action, multiculturalism and sanctuary of illegal aliens.

Description: Remove affirmative action from higher education admittance and hiring

Our Position: This bill prohibits diversity hiring in institutions of hiring learning in Mississippi, as well as prohibiting Affirmative Action policies in school admittance. This bill is ill-conceived and discriminatory. This bill works to undermine policies that promote racial and cultural equity. 

HB 1510, SB 2903, & SB 2905 -  - Gestational Age Act; create

Description: Limits abortions to 15 weeks 

Our Position: This bill criminalizes legal abortion.  This legislation would make an abortion illegal after 15 weeks. The current time limit is 20 weeks. A woman should have the right to control her health choices, and those choices should not be criminalized.

SB 2071 - Refugee resettlement contractors; responsible for crimes committed by refugees they sponsor.

Our Position: This is an anti-refugee bill that would hold resettlement organizations, employers, and sponsors in civil liability if crimes are perpetrated by the refugees. We oppose this bill because it is a blatant attempt to criminalize our immigrant community.  

SB 2066 - Immigration workforce violations; employers using temporary workers held accountable.

Our Position: This is an anti-immigration bill that would require all contractors, subcontractors, and third parties to independently verify that their workers are not undocumented, leading to racial profiling of employees. 

SB 2143 - Abortion; prohibit an abortion of an unborn human individual with a detectable heartbeat.

Our Position: This bill criminalizes legal abortion.  This legislation would make an abortion illegal at first detectable heartbeat, which is at around 6-7 weeks. Many women don’t even realize they are pregnant within such a short time period. A woman should have the right to control her health choices, and those choices should not be criminalized.

SB 2148 - Mississippi Unborn Infants Dignity Act; enact.

Our Position: This bill is designed to criminalize doctors who, in the process of performing an abortion, discard fetal tissue instead of performing a burial. This is yet another tool to deny women in the state of Mississippi the right to control their own health care decisions, therefore putting Mississippi women at risk.

SB 2149 - Refugee resettlement; impose civil liability on sponsor organizations under certain circumstances.

Our Position: This is an anti-refugee bill that would hold resettlement organizations liable if crimes are perpetrated by the refugees. We oppose this bill because it is a blatant attempt to criminalize our immigrant community.  

SB 2155 - Illegal immigration; Attorney General to seek federal reimbursement of costs incurred by state.

Our Position: This legislation seeks to have federal reimbursement for actions outside of the jurisdiction of the state. Immigration enforcement is not a function of state government.

SB 2565 - Abortion facility required to have CON and "Mississippi Unborn Infants Dignity Act"; enact.

Description: Burial of fetal tissue

Our Position: This legislation requires aborted fetal tissue to be buried, instituting another hurdle between a woman and her right to choose to terminate her pregnancy. Criminal charges would be brought against clinics that did not properly bury fetal tissue. 

SB 2616 - Unborn Children with Down Syndrome Abortion Ban Act; enact.

Description: Prevention of abortion because the fetus has Down Syndrome 

Our Position: This bill criminalizes abortion that is undertaken if the fetus is found to have Down Syndrome. A woman should have the right to control her health choices, and have the right to terminate her pregnancy for any reason. 

Stay informed

ACLU of Mississippi is part of a network of affiliates

Learn more about ACLU National