Dear fellow Republican,
This legislative session was a historic one with Republicans controlling both the House and the Senate for the first time in 140 years and you can be proud of the legislation that has been signed into law. Mississippians are fortunate to have leaders like Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, and Speaker Philip Gunn, who have shown a commitment to conservative, pro-business, pro-family policies.
The legislature has passed multiple bills that will make Mississippi a more business-friendly state. The inventory tax, long a burden on businesses in Mississippi, will be replaced with an income tax credit which will be phased in over the next few years. Mississippi is one of just nine states that still have an inventory tax. Workers compensation reform will create a new, balanced system for workers compensation which may reduce employers’ premiums for workers’ compensation insurance, while unemployment fraud reform is designed reduce instances of unemployment fraud and creates an entrepreneurial mentoring program for unemployed Mississippians.
Two new pieces of legislation will help Mississippians gain access to health care, while also having a positive effect on the local economy. The Health Care Industry Zone Act will provide incentives for health-care-related businesses to create new full time jobs in areas where hospitals exist, while the Office of Mississippi Physician Workforce at the University of Mississippi Medical Center has been established to increase the number of medical residency programs offered throughout the state.
Dual enrollment legislation will allow high school dropouts and potential dropouts to earn work skills certification at community colleges while completing their high school education.
The Sunshine Act will give agency heads flexibility in the hiring of outside counsel when necessary and it will also bring transparency to the Attorney General’s process of hiring outside counsel.
New legislation will also protect children in Mississippi, including the unborn. The Child Protection Act requires immediate reporting by health care practitioners, clergy members, teaching or childcare providers, law enforcement officers or commercial image processors when faced with a reasonable suspicion that a sex crime against a minor has occurred. The measure also requires preservation of DNA evidence resulting from abortions performed on children under 14 years of age where there was a suspicion of sexual assault. And HB 1390 will require all physicians performing in abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a local hospital; a necessity to protect life in case of an emergency during an abortion.
New voter ID legislation, implementing the ballot initiative supported by 62 percent of Mississippi voters last fall, will reduce voter fraud throughout the state.
And both the House and Senate successfully completed legislative redistricting this year. The new maps in both Houses are significantly more compact then those drawn 10 years ago, feature fewer split precincts while protecting communities of interest, increasing the number of majority-minority districts, and accounting for population shifts in the state over the past decade.
Finally, the budget was written and adopted without the fanfare of years past. Lawmakers agreed to a budget of more than $5.5 billion that is responsible and saves money for future reserves, while increasing K-12 education spending at the same time. Last year Republicans campaigned on a promise to live within their means in Jackson, just as families in Mississippi have been doing for years- and the Fiscal Year 2013 budget does just that.
This session has been a long one, but thanks to the hard work of Gov. Bryant, Lt. Gov. Reeves, Speaker Gunn, and your Republican Senators and Representatives, we have made great progress over the past four months.