Legislature Passes Small Biz Relief, Hears Distance Learning Plan

This evening, a bipartisan group of lawmakers came to an agreement on a plan to use a portion of Mississippi’s $1.25-billion CARES Act funding to provide relief to small businesses hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Legislators worked late into the night to fast-track the bill and get badly needed financial assistance to businesses in short order. See the conference report passed tonight by the House and Senate.

Earlier in the day, legislators heard from education officials and tech experts about ways to solve Mississippi’s broadband challenges, which have hindered distance learning in rural areas of the state. State Superintendent Dr. Carey Wright laid out a comprehensive proposal to provide home internet access and computer devices for all public school students and professional development and technical support for all teachers. The plan is estimated to cost $250-million in the initial year and $100-million in each of the next two years.  Watch video of the hearing here. Legislators are considering all sectors affected by the pandemic as they craft their relief plans, including health, mental health, and business, in addition to education.

If you’re looking for a fun and productive activity for tomorrow (Thursday) evening, we highly recommend the Mississippi Collective’s Virtual Happy Hour. They’ve had a steady stream of really stellar millennial legislators join an equally impressive group of attendees for an hour of candid, insightful, and often funny commentary on life in the Mississippi Legislature. Rep. Zakiya Summers is on tap this Thursday – that’s tomorrow – at 5:30 p.m. Don’t want to be seen? Join with “audio only.” But don’t miss it. We’re pretty sure you’ll come away feeling much more relaxed about providing input to your lawmakers.  Get your Zoom link here.

There are lots of rabbits to chase in this legislative session, but we are keeping close tabs on all the activity so that we can report to you. Stay tuned! We’ll let you know when we need your help to keep public schools top-of-mind when legislators craft their plan. Together, we’ve got this!