On Oct. 1 – 2, 2020, the Mississippi Legislature went back into Session. These days were used to direct and redirect money of the COVID19 federal funds. This will be a brief summary of the bills passed and their funding. The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is being stored by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) to supply the State. We have not had proper storage to handle the supply. This has been a struggle. HB1808 appropriated $40 million for a building to handle the PPE and added expenses incurred because of the pandemic. HB1810 Established the Rental Assistance Grant Program. This is to help with rental payment for renters and losses for landlords. Afterward, HB1809 was passed to fund the Act and vested funds in an account of the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) for dispersal. The appropriation was $20 million. An appropriation from the Budget Contingency Fund was made to the Department of Health. In HB1813, $4,000,000 was made available for the purpose of reimbursing Specialty Hospitals in Mississippi for COVID19 expenses. SB3055 created the Mississippi ICU Infrastructure Act. This gives hospitals the ability to convert more available beds to ICU standards. Along with the millions previously assigned to the hospitals, in SB3060, $10 million has been set aside for this investment to relieve ICU restrictions. In a move to eliminate a need for a “Special Session”, we passed SB3056. This bill allows the State Drug Schedule to update automatically, when medicines are made available for COVID19. SB3057 gives school districts the ability to use appropriated money on licenses to use equipment and services for a period of no more than one year. We supported the Mississippi Wireless Information Network (MSWIN) with the COVID19 funds. Upgrading this system, gives us a more reliable communication system from Tishomingo County to the Gulf Coast. SB3063 gives MDA the authority to provide funds to Certified Ambulatory Centers, Community Foundations and Food Pantries. This closes some of the gaps left in previous appropriations. It gives us an opportunity to fund Volunteer Fire Departments, Civic Programs to help COVID19 victims, rural community development organizations, etc., to bring the funds to the people who need help. To reach critical areas in farming, the Mississippi Agriculture Stabilization Act was enacted. SB3061 realigned agriculture moneys for this purpose. Some small business codes were missed, when bills were passed to make available. We were supplied these numbers by the Mississippi Bureau of Revenue. HB1811 brought forward those codes and HB1814 made funds available for those small business left out of the original bills. On Dec. 15, 2020, if COVID19 funds are left in any of the appropriation accounts, they will be moved to the Employment Security Trust Fund. They will replace money paid out as claims for unemployment. This will keep Mississippi from increasing the employer and employee amounts paid into the trust fund from paychecks.
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God bless, Randy.