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Legislators approve final version of religious practices bill

JACKSON — Mississippi lawmakers yesterday passed the final version of a bill that says state and local governments cannot put a substantial burden on religious practices, a measure that sparked debate about possible discrimination against gay people and other groups. An early version of the bill, considered weeks ago, was similar to one that Arizona’s Republican governor, Jan Brewer, vetoed ...

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Bryant says he will sign new abortion-restricting bill

JACKSON — Gov. Phil Bryant said yesterday that he looks forward to quickly signing a bill that would ban abortion at 20 weeks, the midpoint of a full-term pregnancy. “This measure represents a great effort to protect the unborn in Mississippi,” Bryant said in a statement after House Bill 1400 passed the House 91-20 and the Senate 41-10. The bill ...

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House, Senate agree to teacher pay-raise plan

JACKSON — A teacher pay-raise plan calls for Mississippi public school teachers to get two across-the-board pay raises worth $2,500 and then be eligible for merit payments in 2016-2017. House and Senate negotiators agreed to the plan yesterday. The full House and Senate must still both pass House Bill 504 and send it to Republican Gov. Phil Bryant before it ...

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House votes for medicinal marijuana oil legislation

Mississippi lawmakers have voted to make the use of marijuana legal— kind of. The Mississippi House of Representatives voted yesterday to make a medicinal marijuana oil legal in the state under tightly controlled circumstances. The House voted 112-6 to pass the final version of House Bill 1231. The Senate still must approve the agreement before it goes to Gov. Phil ...

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Senate gives final approval of anti-union legislation

JACKSON — Bills that aim to restrict union organizing and picketing practices in Mississippi, as well as limit governments’ abilities to pressure employers to use unionized workers, are on their way to Gov. Phil Bryant. The Senate gave final passage yesterday to the three bills, on mostly party-line votes. Senate Bill 2473 would make it illegal to coerce a business ...

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New school start-date legislation signed by Bryant

JACKSON — Mississippi schools won’t be forced to start the academic year in late August, as they had been expecting to do. Gov. Phil Bryant yesterday signed Senate Bill 2571. It negates a previous law that would’ve delayed the start of the school year until at least the third Monday in August. Gulf Coast tourism officials had pushed for the ...

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Legislators up budget estimates for 2014 and 2015

JACKSON — Top Mississippi lawmakers are increasing the estimate of how much money state government can spend this year and next. The Joint Legislative Budget Committee made the changes today after hearing that the state economy has performed well the past several months. Committee members added nearly $150 million to the estimate for fiscal 2014, which ends June 30, and ...

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New welfare drug-testing bill signed into law by Bryant

JACKSON — Gov. Phil Bryant has signed a welfare drug-testing bill, requiring those who test positive to get treatment in order to get cash. He said it would help people who are “trapped in a dependency lifestyle.” House Bill 49 will become law July 1. When it takes effect, anyone who applies for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families will have ...

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State's sheriffs to finally get pay raise with new law

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Mississippi sheriffs will get their first pay raise in several years, starting July 1. Gov. Phil Bryant has signed House Bill 1409, which collapses eight population-based pay brackets into five. Sheriffs in counties with fewer than 15,000 people will make $75,000 a year, while those in counties ranging from 15,000 to 34,000 people will make $80,000. In ...

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House rejects Senate's teacher pay raise legislation

JACKSON — House and Senate negotiators will meet to discuss differences in their pay raise proposals for Mississippi public school teachers. The move comes after the House rejected a Democratic attempt to agree to the Senate’s pay raise proposal by a 71-50 vote yesterday. Democrats argued that the House should accept the Senate plan because there’s a chance that House ...

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