By Speaker of the House Philip Gunn
The week of April 4 marked the final week of the 2022 Legislative Session. Legislators completed the last day on Tuesday, April 5, after working past the initial deadlines to negotiate the more than $7 billion state budget. Many monumental pieces of legislation made it through the process this year during the session. Bills passed by the Legislature that have been signed by myself and Lieutenant Governor Hosemann are awaiting the Governor’s signature or have already been signed.
The most significant tax cut in state history will be realized thanks to House Bill 531, the Mississippi Tax Freedom Act. Each year, $525 million will be cut until the year 2026. As a result, Mississippi will have the fifth-best marginal tax rate of states with a personal income tax by that time. In addition, this legislation provides a path for the total elimination of the income tax at some point in the future.
Mississippi teachers will be getting their largest pay raise in state history under House Bill 530, the Strategically Accelerating the Recruitment and Retention of Teachers (START) Act of 2022. The average pay raise for teachers is $5,140, and teacher assistants will get a bump of $2,000. As a result, starting salary for Mississippi teachers is now well above both the regional and national averages, which puts us in a competitive position. We hope to keep our dedicated, hard-working Mississippi teachers in Mississippi and, at the same time, recruit talented teachers both from in and out of state to help fill teacher shortages in various parts of the state.
During the 2022 Session, the Mississippi Legislature appropriated $1.5 billion in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) for water, sewer, broadband, healthcare, and various other projects needs across the state.
Under the Mississippi Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, no employee can pay women less for doing the same amount of work as a man. Before this session, Mississippi did not have any equal pay laws on the books. This effort was a long time coming and is an issue that has been worked on diligently by legislators on both sides of the Capitol Rotunda for many years.
Other items of note:
• Redistricting – New lines were drawn for Congressional, State Senate, and State House districts, which uphold the “one person, one vote” principle. Each State House district contains approximately 24,000 people.
• The Pregnancy Resource Act provides a $3.5 million tax credit to support the work of nonprofits that operate as crisis pregnancy centers.
• Under Parker’s Law, a person giving or selling fentanyl that leads to the recipient’s death could serve 20 years behind bars.
• The Broadband Accessibility Act will expand internet coverage to Mississippians with little to no internet access, including the many rural parts of our state.
• The Bill Kinkade FAITH Scholarship Program will provide financial assistance for postsecondary education to all current and former foster children who entered the program on or after age 13.
• Mississippians will now have a new state song. “One Mississippi,” by country artist and Greenville native Steve Azar, will be Mississippi’s contemporary state song. The law also creates the Mississippi State Songs Study Committee, which will decide on official state songs in other genres.
• Passed early in the session, the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act outlines a medical marijuana program that will treat conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s, ALS and epilepsy, to name a few.
The Mississippi House of Representatives adjourned sine die on the evening of Tuesday, April 5, thus concluding the 2022 Legislative Session, which was the third session in the four-year term.