WOW! The fifth week of the 2021 Legislative Session was the busiest by far. Committees wrapped up their deliberations by Tuesday. Wednesday, the House Chamber welcomed the entire membership of the House of Representatives. COVID-19 is still a large concern of everyone in the legislature. Representatives were challenged to wear masks, social distance and wash our hands often. The bills that were considered dealt with a variety of topics. HB997 would remove the Department of Revenue (DOR) from being the wholesale distributor of alcoholic beverages within the state. Private companies will be allowed to hold wholesale permits to be issued to private companies. The Department of Revenue currently operates the Beverage Control Warehouse for the State of Mississippi. Privatizing the control of the alcoholic beverages across the state will cut costs for DOR and provide opportunities for job growth. The bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 104-3. Another bill that would change alcohol laws was HB1135. The bill would create a delivery service permit to allow the holder to contract for the delivery of alcoholic beverages from a licensed retailer to a consumer. HB 1135 passed the House by a vote of 71-38. One greatly debated bill was HB1315. The primary reason for this bill is to cut state regulations and shrink State Government. The bill would repeal occupational licenses for art therapists, auctioneers, interior designers and wigologists. Proponents of the bill noted that these professions pose no real threat to public safety, while those opposed argued that this repeal would lead to a lack of oversight in these industries. HB1315 passed by a vote of 74-36, and the bill is now being held on a motion to reconsider. The final version of this bill will look different. HB1302 was debated fully. The bill would authorize optometrists who have passed educational requirements and have professional experience, under an ophthalmologist, to perform certain procedures to treat eye diseases. Proponents of the bill suggested these procedures are already being taught in optometry schools and would allow easier access to this medical procedure by rural patients. Opponents debated that these procedures should be performed by licensed an ophthalmologist. The compromise of phasing in the procedures over 3 years, while looking at the data gathered was a major factor in my decision to favor this bill. The bill passed 90-25. HB1303 would allow nurse practitioners, who have met certain experience requirements to practice primary care without a collaborative agreement with a licensed physician. The bill passed by a vote of 78-38. HB122 would authorize expungement for up to three felony convictions if 15 years have passed since a person’s last felony conviction. Various felonies such as violent crimes, arson and trafficking would not be eligible for expungement. The bill passed by a vote of 78-42 and is now being held on a motion to reconsider. Thank you for allowing me to be your Representative. Please pray for me to make the right decisions for District 19 and Mississippi. God bless, Randy.
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