Our Country saw the biggest job increase ever of 2.5 million in May as the economy starts to recover from the coronavirus. Much of the gain came from those classified as temporary layoffs due to the coronavirus-related economic shutdown. The May gain was by far the biggest one-month jobs surge in U.S. history since at least 1939. I remain optimistic we will continue to see positive employment numbers through the summer.

Many small businesses received the $2,000 COVID-19 Relief Payment last week. The Department of Revenue have distributed over 9,000 payments so far. Businesses and individuals eligible for this payment do not need to take any action in order to receive it. The Department of Revenue will issue the payments to eligible business based on tax returns filed with our office and other information verified by other state agencies. For more information on the COVID-19 Relief Payments, visit www.dor.ms.gov under Recent News. If you are considering applying for the Back to Business Mississippi Grant, administered by the Mississippi Development Authority, visit https://www.backtobusinessms.org/. Small businesses are eligible for up to $25,000 through the Back to Business Mississippi Grant.

Last week marked the deadline for House appropriations and revenue bills to be introduced and passed. Most legislation came from the Appropriations and Ways and Means Committees, while some general bills from the Senate were also introduced. 

Although much of the state’s budget was discussed last week, several appropriations bills were introduced before the House. These four bills will help defray COVID-19 related expenses by appropriating funds to different state agencies: the Department of Health (HB 1749), the Department of Finance and Administration (HB 1750 and HB 1752), and the Department of Education (HB 1751). All four bills passed with bipartisan support and were sent to the Senate for consideration.

House Bill 1746 was one of the bills introduced by the Ways and Means committee. The bill would temporarily reduce the rates of the Oil and Gas Severance Tax. HB 1746 passed unanimously by a vote of 111-0 and has been sent to the Senate. 

The House Education Committee brought several Senate bills out of committee and onto the House floor this week. Examples of these bills include Senate Bill 2508 would extend the repealer on provisions of the Mississippi Critical Teacher Shortage Act of 1998; Senate Bill 2283 would revise school districts’ provisions related to conflict-of-interest of employees and administrators; and Senate Bill 2511 would revise some licensure requirements for teachers. Each of these bills passed unanimously when presented. 

Committees will continue to meet to discuss Senate bills. Over the next few weeks, more Senate bills will make their way out of House committees and onto the House floor for discussion. The same process will take place in the Senate as they review bills that passed through the House. The deadline for original floor action on general bills from the Senate is Wednesday, June 17.

Please contact me if I can help you or if you have a question/comments. I’m using my Facebook page to post regular updates. You may email me at jsteverson@house.ms.gov, call me at 662.837.0194 or message me on Twitter and Facebook. I thank you for allowing me the honor to represent you in the Mississippi House of Representatives.

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