House & Senate Committees Take Up Education Bills

Legislative committees met this week to begin debating bills that passed the opposite chamber prior to the pause in the session necessitated by the pandemic. 

HB 1165, which passed the House as a mandate that computer science be taught, passed the Senate Education Committee as a vehicle to use for a distance learning initiative. Chairman DeBar indicated that the current language of the bill will not be retained. New language likely will be added in conference to address Mississippi’s digital divide – a vast inequity in access to computer devices and internet connectivity.

The House Education Committee took up several bills yesterday, but none that we are tracking. They have another meeting scheduled for Monday afternoon. Bills that have not yet seen second-round action include SB 2511, which amends the licensure statute to address Mississippi’s teacher shortage; SB 2594, which tightens up the ESA voucher program; SB 2286, which expands the Early Learning Collaborative pre-k program; and SB 2001, the teacher pay raise.

The House passed HB 1700, the K-12 appropriation bill for the 2020-2021 school year, but, at this point the numbers are meaningless. The House leadership is using “level” funding (same funding schools got this year) as a placeholder until they learn more about the revenue picture when June numbers are released mid-month. Until then, it’s all speculation. Most agencies are expected to see budget cuts, as state revenue is down significantly due to pandemic-related job losses and business closures. 

Next week will be an important one for education legislation, so stay close to your inbox. We’ll let you know when we need your help. We’re glad we are in this together, because together – for the sake of Mississippi’s children, we’ve got this!