- Associated Press - Friday, April 22, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi legislators grabbed national attention during their 2016 session by voting to let workers cite their own religious objections to same-sex marriage to deny services to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people.

House Bill 1523 (https://bit.ly/1Mq4DyE ), signed by Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, becomes law July 1. It generated support from conservative groups such as the American Family Association and the Family Research Council, and was sharply criticized by Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT civil rights group. More than 90 Mississippi authors and several performers condemned the measure, with comedian Tracy Morgan and singer Bryan Adams canceled shows in the state because of it.

The governor said critics are overreacting.

“All the sudden, we have one guy from the 1980s that canceled a concert and we all want to talk about that,” Bryant said Wednesday in a jab at Adams.

Here’s a checklist of what happened during the 3-1/2-month session.

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WHAT LEGISLATORS DID

CONTINENTAL TIRE - House Bill 1 (https://bit.ly/22RlLja ) was passed in February during a special session within the regular session, and it became law immediately. It provides hundreds of millions of dollars of state money and incentives for German firm Continental AG to build a tire plant in Hinds County.

TAX CUT - Senate Bill 2858 (https://bit.ly/1QI7AdY ), awaiting consideration by Gov. Phil Bryant, would phase out Mississippi’s $260-million-a-year corporate franchise tax. It would also cut $145 million in income taxes, raising the threshold for paying state income taxes to $10,000. Those reductions would begin in 2018. Mississippi also would lower taxes on self-employment, cutting $10.2 million over three years beginning in 2017.

BUDGET - Legislators set a nearly $6.4 billion budget for fiscal 2017, which begins July 1. It cuts spending for most programs and gives the same amount of money to a K-12 funding formula as in fiscal 2016.

JACKSON AIRPORT - Senate Bill 2162 (https://bit.ly/1RnU1x1 ) will replace the current five-member board appointed by Mayor Tony Yarber with a nine-member Jackson Metropolitan Airport Authority. State officials and two suburban counties would appoint a majority, but five of nine members would have to live in Jackson. Bryant said he will sign it, and it will become law July 1.

APPOINTED SUPERINTENDENTS - Senate Bill 2438 (https://bit.ly/1RpuTs3 ), signed by Bryant, becomes law July 1. It requires all school superintendents to be appointed, beginning in 2019. Those elected in 2015 will serve their current four-year terms.

ACHIEVEMENT SCHOOL DISTRICT - House Bill 989 (https://bit.ly/1p25v2d ), awaiting consideration by the governor, would create a statewide school district that would take control of poorly performing school districts or individual schools. If Bryant signs the bill, the first schools could be taken over in 2017.

CHARTER SCHOOLS - Senate Bill 2161 (https://bit.ly/1RxqDdc ), signed by Bryant, becomes law July 1. It will allow some students to attend charter schools outside their home districts.

GUNS IN CHURCH - House Bill 786 (https://bit.ly/1ZIUFLb ) became law when the governor signed it April 15. It will allow places of worship to designate members to undergo firearms training and carry guns to protect the congregation. It also will allow people to carry guns in holsters without a concealed weapons permit.

ABORTION - House Bill 519 (https://bit.ly/1PpUWLo ) becomes law July 1. It outlaws a procedure called dilation and evacuation unless an abortion is required to prevent irreversible physical impairment to the pregnant woman. It prohibits abortions extracting a live fetus in pieces using instruments such as clamps and forceps.

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WHAT THEY DIDN’T DO

TRANSPORTATION - The House and Senate had little open debate about finding new sources of funding for highways and bridges, giving up on efforts because Republicans balked at fuel tax increases.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE - House Bill 797 (https://bit.ly/1VJrxUV ) was killed on a voice vote in the House on the final days of the session. It would have required more extensive disclosure of how campaign money is spent. It also would have restricted the use of campaign funds for personal expenses.

STATE FLAG - About a dozen bills proposed either removing the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag or punishing government entities that refuse to fly the current banner. All of the bills died.

SCHOOL FUNDING - Legislators did not rewrite the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, a K-12 budget formula that has been fully funded only twice since it became law in 1997, despite closed-door talks on possible changes.

VACCINATIONS - A Senate committee killed House Bill 938 (https://bit.ly/1VJslsU ), which would have expanded medical exemptions to some of the strictest childhood vaccination requirements in the nation.

DIVORCE - Senate Bill 2418 (https://bit.ly/26fNoH4 ), which would have added domestic violence as a reason for divorce, died late in the session when it was sent back for more negotiations and never re-emerged. The state retains 12 reasons for divorce, including adultery and habitual drunkenness.

CAPITOL COMPLEX - Senate Bill 2525 (https://bit.ly/1Rmfmak ) would have created a regional board and an advisory committee to work with the city of Jackson on infrastructure improvements, eventually routing a larger share of Jackson sales tax collections back to the city. It died during final negotiations.

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Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: https://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .


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