Bellow is a statement from the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus:
We are almost a full week into the administration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Immediately, we saw our new president implement much-needed policy changes to set our nation on a path forward.
Of note, Congress is at work to finalize the next round of relief funding to help American families and businesses. We're excited about this because we know African American families and businesses across the state of Mississippi have struggled over the last nine months to make ends meet.
As we await the new funding, we are currently in the process of preparing a series of virtual town hall meetings to let our constituents know they can take advantage of federal resources. Specifically, we'll discuss the latest Paycheck Protection Program rollout and unemployment assistance. It's important to us that you are properly positioned to receive the help that you need.
In the past week, we've come to face new challenges related to COVID-19. In an effort to lower the risk of transmission, both the Senate and House are opting to meet virtually. Though this is new for us, trust that we are still hard at work for you as we navigate this legislative session and adapt to the changes in the legislative process.
Please be sure to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for up-to-date information on legislation and other decisions happening at your state Capitol.
Angela Turner Ford, MS Senator (D-16)
Chair of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus
On a unanimous vote, the Senate passed Senate Bill 2001 to give $1,000 raises to teachers and increase starting pay to $37,000.
- Teacher's assistants would also receive a $1,000 increase to make their minimum salaries $15,000. The increase would climb to $1,110 for teachers who have less than three years' experience.
- The bill must now get House approval.
The Senate passed House Bill 69 to enable the Veterans Affairs Board to increase salaries for needed healthcare services workers.
Committee meetings continue, and a safety procedure to lessen the chance of COVID-19 exposure or infections was approved by senate leadership.
- Instead of physically attending committee meetings, senators can view those held in rooms 216 and 409 live-streamed over the Web. As part of the committee debate process, when necessary, Senators may respond by Zoom video conferencing, which is now in place.
Speaker Philip Gunn announced new chairmanships of several House Committees:
- Insurance Chairman: Hank Zuber (R-Ocean Springs)
- Banking and Financial Services Chairman: Jerry Turner (R-Baldwyn)
- Drug Policy Chairman: Lee Yancey (R-Brandon)
- Rules Chairman: Rob Roberson (R-Starkville)
- Medicaid Vice-Chairman: Clay Deweese (R-Oxford)
The Speaker also announced new safety protocols that will be implemented starting next week.
All committee meetings and sessions will happen via teleconference, available to the public on the Legislature website.
The House is scheduled to return to in-person sessions on Wednesday, February 3, after the deadline to pass bills out of committee.
House Resolution 12, which was introduced on Friday morning, creates a temporary House rule determining quorum on meetings happening remotely.
The resolution passed unanimously by a voice vote and made it possible for the House to conduct business by teleconference.
The Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus releases its 2021 Legislative Priorities