Here's a quick look at the bills that are still alive that we're tracking. For a bill to be on the 'calendar' means that the house of origin is ready to vote on it. If it passes on the floor, then it goes to the other house and through the same committee process.

Criminal Justice Reform

Support

HB 387, SB 2848 – Re-entry reforms

Status: HB 387 died on House Calendar.

SB 2848: Died on House Calendar.

Our Position: These bills create reentry opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals, reduce the state’s reliance on incarceration, and greatly decrease the risk of recidivism. They would prohibit city, county, and circuit courts from incarcerating or detaining a person because of inability to pay fines and fees. Being poor is not a crime, and no one should have to face jail time simply because they can’t afford to pay court costs. This legislation also would also allow parolees to have visits by their parole officers at their job, instead of missing work.

SB 2841 - Re-entry and employability; implement mechanisms to provide.

Status: Passed as Amended in Senate. Sent to House.

Our Position: This bill expands access to alternative sentencing through drug courts and other specialty courts. It also reduces the chances of someone having their license suspended merely because they’re unable to afford fines and fees. Finally, this bill would provide protections for employers in order to remove disincentives for hiring people with a felony record. 

 

HB 419 - Mental health courts; authorize to be established throughout the state.

Status: Passed House; Sent to Senate

Our Position: This bill would authorize the establishment of mental health courts throughout the state, which we support as a means to address underlying issues of crime, better serve public safety, and reduce counterproductive over-reliance on incarceration. Jails should not be used to warehouse people suffering with mental illness.

 

HB 434 - Appropriation; Administration Office of Courts to provide funding for mental health courts.

Status: Died on House Calendar.

Our Position: Without funding, the legal authorization for establishing mental health courts would be merely symbolic. This bill would provide funding and deliver it via the independent Administrative Office of Courts. Therefore, we support this bill.

 

HB 668Vagrants and tramps; revise and repeal laws regarding.

Status: Passed House; Sent to Senate.

Our Position: Although we initially opposed this bill, as introduced, because there were serious constitutional implications raised by language essentially criminalizing homelessness, the committee substitute removed that language. Therefore, we support this bill in its current version, which is a clean repeal of our state’s vagrancy laws – the cornerstone of Black Codes enacted after the Civil War ended.

 

HB 1092 - Privacy; restrict use of certain technologies for gaining access to communications and personal information.

Status: Died on House Calendar.

Our Position: This bill would ensure the people of MS are not subject to secret surveillance that has been revealed throughout the country in recent years. Stingrays are often used without a warrant and it has even been revealed that law enforcement has misled judges and defendants to avoid constitutional challenges. This bill restores court oversight by requiring a warrant before the government uses a Stingray, thus protecting Mississippians' sacred right to privacy and right to be free from unreasonable searches.

 

HB 1094 - Drug policy reciprocity; authorize.

Status: Died on House Calendar.

Our Position: Many states have rightly begun to decriminalize marijuana use, and many have legalized medical marijuana. People with valid prescriptions in their home states shouldn't be harassed by Mississippi law enforcement for their lawful possession of prescribed medication.

 

HR 7 - House Rules; amend to require a racial impact statement for all legislation to be attached to each bill.

Status: Referred to Rule Committee

Our Position: A part of our 2018 Legislative package, this resolution requires that a racial and ethnic impact statement that examine how proposed legislation related to the criminal justice system will affect certain populations. This is necessary because our criminal laws, even if passed with absolutely zero racial animus, result in drastically disproportionate impact, which is just as devastating as if the effects were intended. The Magnolia State incarcerates blacks at 3.5 times the rate of whites.

 

SB 2129 – Technical Violations

Status: Died on Senate Calendar.

Description: Removes the reference that designates an arrest for a new criminal offense as a technical violation

Our Position: This bill would ensure that people are not automatically sent back to prison for small violations.

 

Oppose

HB 59 - Offenders convicted of a crime of violence; strike reference that such offenders are eligible for parole.

Status: Passes as Amended in House. Sent to Senate.

Our Position: We should be expanding parole, not narrowing it. Mississippi has an incarceration rate higher than any country on Earth.

 

HB 61 - DOC; authorize to transfer disruptive technical violation center offender to general population under certain circumstances.

Status: Passed House. Sent to Senate.

Our Position: While MDOC needs to maintain order at TVCs, this bill fails to narrowly define "disruption," and probationers and parolees should only be removed from TVCs in exceptional circumstances.

 

HB 243 - Littering violations; increase penalties for.

Status: Died on House Calendar.

Our Position: Increasing penalties in an attempt to increase deterrence is a flawed philosophy. If we want to decrease littering, we won't do it by increasing the sentence tenfold.

 

HB 541 – The Mississippi Anti-Gang Act; create.

Status: Died on House Calendar.

SB 2868 – Delinquency of a minor; provide that those who cause minors to sell drugs or join gangs contribute to.

Status: Passed Senate. Sent to House.

Our Position: While the ACLU of MS understands the need by lawmakers and state law enforcement leadership to ensure that our communities are safe, the Anti-Gang law is unnecessary and overbroad. The ACLU of MS, therefore, opposes HB 541 as ineffective and prone to result in racial bias and over-incarceration of non-violent offenders. 

 

HB 1264, SB 2585 - Terroristic threat; create offense of.

Status: HB 1264 passed House; Sent to Senate - Referred to Jud B Committee.

Status: SB 2585 passed Senate. Sent to House 

Description: An act to create the offense of making a terroristic threat is a felony punishable by imprisonment not to exceed 10 years

Our Position: Protecting crude and upsetting speech is an essential component of democracy. Creating a new crime is unnecessary and creates a slippery slope likely to lead to costly litigation protecting a fundamental right to free speech. This bill is also unnecessary as laws already on the books address hurtful speech.


Equality

Oppose

HB 1510 – Gestational Age Act, create

Status: Passed House; Sent to Senate.

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.


Voting

Support

HB 774 - Voter enfranchisement; create joint legislative study committee on.

Status: Passed House. Sent to Senate.

Description: Bipartisan committee to study voter disenfranchisement

Our Position: This committee will study the possibility of rewriting disenfranchisement laws for non-violent offenses. The likely outcome of this committee would be to create smart policies around non-violent felony disenfranchisement.


What Can You Do to Help Support or Oppose a Bill?

Contact your legislator to express your support or opposition to a bill. Download our "How To Talk So Your Mississippi Legislator Will Listen" one-pager below for more tips.

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