Mississippi legislators wrapping up work for 3-month session

Published 7:30 am Thursday, April 1, 2021

Mississippi legislators will end their three-month session on Thursday, and that will give Republican Gov. Tate Reeves a few days to sign or veto dozens of bills they passed.

One bill would prohibit certain types of restraints from being used on imprisoned women during pregnancy, labor and delivery. House Bill 196 specifies that pregnant inmates cannot be assigned to top bunks, and it says that a baby born to an imprisoned woman may remain with her for three days unless a medical provider has a reasonable belief that this would harm the newborn.

One of the bill’s sponsors, Democratic Rep. Zakiya Summers of Jackson, said Wednesday that she hopes Reeves will sign the bill into law. She said it would help bring “dignity and respect” to women facing difficult circumstances.

“We know that the environment that women are in behind bars has an impact not just on them but also on their children, their families,” Summers said.

Reeves generally does not say whether he will sign bills until he and his staff have had a chance to review them.

Another bill awaiting his consideration is House Bill 374, which designates a list of new specialty license plates that the state could sell. One of the new designs would feature the new state flag that voters approved in November, with a magnolia encircled by stars and the phrase, “In God We Trust.” The extra fee that people pay for the state flag license plate would go to the state Department of Archives and History.

If Reeves signs the bill, the new state flag license plate will replace a specialty license plate that had been available since 2019, featuring a flag designed by Jackson artist Laurin Stennis. Many people saw the Stennis flag as an unofficial alternative to a Confederate-themed state flag that legislators retired last year.

Mississippi would criminalize “revenge porn,” if Reeves signs Senate Bill 2121. The bill would would set penalties for people who share intimate visual material of another person without that person’s permission and with the intent to cause harm. The material could include pictures shared during a relationship that were only intended to be seen by the recipient. It could also include images of someone being molested.
Republican Sen. Jeremy England of Vancleave said 46 states already outlaw the sharing of such material. He says Mississippi prosecutors are requesting a law in this state.