The legislative session is in full swing in Mississippi, and as always, lawmakers have proposed a handful of somewhat unusual bills. Here’s a list of 10 that grabbed our attention.
Name the official state horse
A single piece of legislature proposing that the American Quarter Horse be named the state’s official state horse has been filed in the legislature by Sen. Rod Hickman, D-Macon. According to Senate Bill 2142, the American Quarter Horse “is well-suited for the intricate and quick maneuvers required for rodeo events.” The breed is currently ranked the most popular type of horse in the nation, as it is known as being the fastest in the world with a maximum speed of 55 miles per hour.
Establish a state color
Mississippi might soon have an official state color if House Bill 699 is passed. Rep. Greg Holloway, D-Hazlehurst, proposes making “the color blue as the state color of Mississippi.” In previous years, Mississippi has been identified using the colors red, gold, white, and blue, which are included in the state flag. With HB 699, the state’s official color would be officially declared and identified with blue.
Allow firework sales year-round
One lawmaker is looking to implement a handful of bills focused on the sale of fireworks, with HB 788 allowing fireworks to be sold year-round. The bill, authored by Rep. Steve Horne, R-Meridian, also outlines several regulations prohibiting those under the age of 12 from purchasing fireworks, as well as declares it unlawful to ignite or discharge fireworks within 600 feet of churches, hospitals, and schools. It would also be unlawful to light fireworks 75 feet from where they are sold or stored.
Two additional bills would require for the sale of fireworks to be located within a permanent structure instead of a temporary stand, with HB 792 specifying further regulations for fireworks being sold at wholesale and retail. HB 609 includes wording from both bills, stating that fireworks will be available for purchase year-round and be sold at a permanent building.
Prevent employers from forcing human microchip implantation
Sen. Kevin Blackwell, R-Southaven, is looking to get ahead of the curve as technology quickly advances with SB 2088, which would act as a protection to employees from forced human microchip implantation. The bill would define the purposes for microchips in the workplace and prohibit employers from requiring their employees to consent to microchip implantation in the future. SB 2088 would also require employers to accommodate employees who do not have a microchip implanted, as well as prevent any coercion or threats from occurring from the lack of.
Additional wording in the legislation states that employers would pay for all costs associated with implanting or removing a microchip if the employee agrees to receive an implant. Any information gathered from the microchip would also be disclosed to employees if used by employer.
Extend legal holidays
Employees may have more holidays each year with the passing of HB 123, which would require that “if any legal holiday falls on a Tuesday, then the day before such Tuesday shall be a legal holiday.” Additional wording from Rep. Orlando Paden’s, D-Clarksdale, includes that if any legal holiday falls on a Sunday, the next following day would be a legal holiday as well.
According to the bill, the legislation would apply to the following holidays: New Year’s Day, Robert E. Lee’s birthday and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, George Washington’s birthday, Confederate Memorial Day, National Memorial Day and Jefferson Davis’ birthday, Independence Day, Labor Day, Armistice or Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
Require high school students to pass citizenship test
Mississippi high school students may need to brush up on their U.S. history if SB 2067 passes, as the bill would require graduates to pass the Naturalization Test used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
In SB 2067, which was introduced by Sen. Angela Hill, R-Picayune, students would need to correctly answer at least 80 of the 100 listed questions to receive a diploma. Students who do not obtain a passing score would be allowed to retake the test three times to fulfill the required score. If passed, the requirement would begin for students who graduate from high school during or after the 2024-2025 school year.
Protect the right to use milk from owned farm animals
Farmers in Mississippi are looking to protect their right to use the milk from their animals with HB 685, which would exclude independent owners of any regulations regarding the use of milk or milk products for personal use. The bill from Rep. Dan Eubanks, R-Walls, specifies that no other provision would prohibit owners of goats, cows, and sheep from obtaining milk in its “raw or unadulterated form for the owner’s personal consumption or other personal use.”
The legislation further details that incidental sales of raw goat milk would only be legal if the milk is sold directly to the consumer on the same premises the milk is produced and as long as there are no more than nine goats on the property. If violated, those found guilty would be charged with a misdemeanor and may be fined no more than $500 and be confined in jail for less than 60 days.
Allow deer hunters to wear fluorescent pink vests
Legislation that would allow hunters to wear fluorescent pink vests as an alternative to fluorescent orange during deer hunting season has been filed in the House. If passed, HB 526, authored by Rep. Randy Rushing, R-Decatur, would enable hunters to wear at least 500 square inches of solid unbroken fluorescent pink or orange during any open gun season on deer. The requirement would not apply to a hunter while they are in a fully enclosed deer stand.
Require the identification of secondhand mattresses
Several legislators have discussed a concern about consumers unknowingly purchasing used mattresses in Mississippi. According to HB 412, individuals selling secondhand mattresses would be required to attach a specified tag indicating that the mattress had been used or contained secondhand materials.
The bill states that each mattress containing used material would be required to have a white cloth tag permanently secured to it that is no less than six square inches in size, will not flake, and is indelibly stamped or printed in English stating what materials are used in filling the mattress, that the mattress or material is secondhand, and indicate the original date of manufacture of the mattress. Those found guilty of a first offense would be fined $50. For a second offense, the individual would be fined $500. Each offender convicted for a third or subsequent offense would be fined $2,500.
Designate March as Mississippi Musicians Month
Lawmakers have proposed HB 365 to designate the month of March as “Mississippi Musicians Month” each year for the purpose of recognizing and celebrating the state’s musical heritage. The bill details that Mississippi has become recognized nationally as the “Birthplace of America’s Music,” as “there is no mainstream commercial musical genre that has not been influenced by Mississippi.”
The bill from Rep. Missy McGee, R-Hattiesburg, argues that Mississippi has produced more Grammy Award winners per capita than any other state, with notable musically inclined Mississippians that have had a global impact including Robert Johnson, Jimmie Rodgers, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Elvis Presley, Marty Stuart, and more.
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