Mississippi new laws: Tax cut, teacher pay raise, state song

June 30, 2022 GMT
Flanked by lawmakers and educators, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signs the teacher pay raise bill during a ceremonial bill signing, March 31, 2022, at Madison Central High School in Madison, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Flanked by lawmakers and educators, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signs the teacher pay raise bill during a ceremonial bill signing, March 31, 2022, at Madison Central High School in Madison, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Flanked by lawmakers and educators, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signs the teacher pay raise bill during a ceremonial bill signing, March 31, 2022, at Madison Central High School in Madison, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Flanked by lawmakers and educators, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signs the teacher pay raise bill during a ceremonial bill signing, March 31, 2022, at Madison Central High School in Madison, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Flanked by lawmakers and educators, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signs the teacher pay raise bill during a ceremonial bill signing, March 31, 2022, at Madison Central High School in Madison, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Several new laws take effect in Mississippi on Friday, which is also the first day of the new state budget year.

TEACHER PAY

In the new budget year, teachers will receive raises that average about $5,100, and assistant teachers will receive $2,000. Mississippi’s average teacher salary in 2019-20 was $46,843, according to the Southern Regional Education Board. The national average was $64,133.

TAX CUT

Mississippi will reduce its income tax over four years. Starting in 2023, the 4% income tax bracket will be eliminated. The following three years, the 5% bracket will be reduced to 4%. After the first year, the tax-free income levels will be $18,300 for a single person and $36,600 for a married couple.

EQUAL PAY

Mississippi is becoming the final state to enact a law requiring equal pay for equal work by women and men. Critics said the new law is harmful because it will allow an employer to pay a woman less than a man based on the pay history that workers bring into new jobs.

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ELECTION SPENDING

State and local election offices are banned from accepting donations from outside groups for election operations. Mississippi joins other Republican-led states in setting a ban in reaction to donations that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made across the U.S. in 2020.

RURAL EMERGENCY ROOMS

The state Department of Health could issue up to five licenses for free-standing emergency rooms in rural areas.

STATE SONG

A new law designates “One Mississippi,” by singer-songwriter Steve Azar, as one new state song. It also creates a committee to recommend additional state songs from various genres. The state is ditching “Go, Mississippi,” which had been the state song since 1962. It uses the tune of “Roll With Ross,” the 1959 campaign jingle of segregationist Gov. Ross Barnett.

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NEW LAWS ENACTED EARLIER THIS YEAR

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill Feb. 2 to legalize medical marijuana for people with debilitating conditions. It became law immediately, but opening the first dispensaries will take months. In November 2020, Mississippi voters approved a medical marijuana initiative. The state Supreme Court overturned it six months later by ruling it was not properly on the ballot because the initiative process was outdated.

ABORTION OPPONENTS

The “Pregnancy Resource Act” authorizes people or businesses to claim tax credits after making donations to crisis pregnancy centers. The centers try to dissuade women from having abortions and provide supplies such as diapers and baby clothing.

TEACHING ABOUT RACE

In March, Reeves signed a bill banning schools, community colleges or universities from teaching that any “sex, race, ethnicity, religion or national origin is inherently superior or inferior.” It became law immediately. Several Black lawmakers said the limitations could squelch honest discussion about the harmful effects of racism.

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