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Mississippi legislature: Week 13 recap

The story of the week, and of the session, was agreement between the House and Senate on income tax reform.

While both chambers started in vastly different places at the beginning of the session, lawmakers sent Gov. Tate Reeves tax relief that will eliminate the 4 percent income tax bracket in year one, which is the first $5,000 of taxable income, and will then reduce the 5 percent rate to a flat 4 percent rate over the next three years.

The average family will not pay taxes on the first $36,600 of income and will save $834, while a single worker will not pay taxes on the first $18,300 of income and will save $417. When fully phased in, Mississippi will be one of just 10 states with a flat tax and will have the fifth lowest rate among the 41 states with an income tax.

Lawmakers are headed to overtime next week to finish their remaining business. While Sine Die was originally scheduled for April 3, a resolution that was introduced today will push the final day to April 10.

Also, this week:

– One of the goals of the session for virtually everyone in Jackson, teacher pay raises, were signed by Reeves this week. With this, teachers will see an average raise of over $5,000, while teacher assistants will receive a raise of about $2,000. The starting salary for a teacher with a Bachelor’s Degree will be over $41,000.

– Revitalization of the initiative process appears to be on life support, with the House and Senate having differences on the number of signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. The House proposal would need about 100,000 signatures to be placed on the ballot. It would be about 240,000 with the Senate.

– Waiting for the end of the session, lawmakers adopted new legislative maps that will be in effect for the 2023 election.

House Bill 1509, which will prohibit any government entity in Mississippi from mandating COVID-19 vaccines, is headed to the governor. The language also prohibits any school, public or private, from requiring the vaccine, and allows any employee, public or private, to claim a religious exemption to the vaccine.

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