Article by Jimmie B. Reynolds, III Featured Author
Posted June 2018
The 2018 Regular Legislative Session adjourned Sine Die on March 28, 2018. There were 2,789 bills introduced this past session, of which 329 became law.
Before listing some of the bills that made it through the 2018 Regular Legislative Session, I wanted to list a few of the numerous legislative items that your Bar has been successful in advocating for over the years and measures we continue to support.
The establishment of Mississippi Court of Appeals and the Administrative Office of Courts.
The establishment of the Mississippi Electronic Courts E-Filing system.
Support for Drug and Youth Courts, and continued adequate funding.
The passage of an Ad Valorem Tax exemption for the Mississippi Bar Center which is owned by the Mississippi Bar Foundation.
The establishment of the Mississippi Civil Legal Assistance Fund, which provides monies for legal services for the poor. In establishing this Fund, the State recognized the importance of providing funding for civil legal aid to the poor. The fund levies a $5 filing fee on all civil cases filed in Mississippi and receives some funding through criminal assessments. The Fund has generated over $8.6 million since its inception.
Pay raises for Appellate and Trial Judges.
Pay raises for District Attorneys and Assistant District Attorneys.
Pay raises for Court Reporters.
Crime and sentencing reforms in House Bill (HB) 585. This law was based on the recommendations of the bi-partisan Criminal Justice Task Force to promote clarity and consistency in criminal sentencing and control corrections costs.
The elimination of the sunset provision in the enabling statutes of The Mississippi Bar. The elimination of this provision demonstrated the good working relationship that the Bar has forged with the Legislature over the years.
The yearly endeavor of ensuring that the Courts receive adequate funding.
Yearly effort advocating for support of adequate funding for the Legal Services Corporation, Washington, D.C. with Mississippi’s Congressional Delegation and support of its critical mission to our fellow citizens.
The Bar continues its support for the establishment of a Statewide County Court System.
The Bar continues its support the establishment of a Statewide Public Defender System for indigent defense in criminal cases.
Below are a few of the bills that you may find of interest which were passed during the 2018 Regular Session.2 The Bar not only advocates for certain measures, but also plays defense a good deal of the time while monitoring and acting on bills that could adversely affect the Judiciary or the Bar in general. The Bar works closely with the Court throughout the session towards these goals. I would be remiss if I did not mention the time and effort that Chief Justice Waller gives each year. To read the bills in full, please visit the 2018 Legislative Session Bill Status webpage. The new laws will become effective July 1, 2018, unless otherwise noted:
HB 387: Re-entry council; implement certain recommendations thereof. (Gipson) This law is an extension of HB 585, the crime and sentencing reform bill passed in 2014. Among other changes, the bill provides that incarceration will not automatically follow the nonpayment of fines, restitution, or court cost and sets forth a standard for the determination of indigence.
HB 801: Children; authorize emergency placement in home of a relative. (Gipson)This law authorizes children to be placed in the home of a friend or relative in emergency placement because of sudden unavailability of their primary caregiver.
HB 1091: Wrongful death claims; clarify that such can be opened outside an estate. (Blackmon) This law clarifies that an action of wrongful death may be brought outside of an estate. Its goal is to provide a less expensive and cumbersome way of bringing a wrongful death action.
HB 1239: Appeals to circuit court from county or municipal judgements; revise process regarding. (Baker) This law simplifies the appeals process by getting rid of the old bill of exceptions law. The bill was originally crafted by attorneys John Howard Shows and James A. Peden, Jr.
HB 1306: Construction Dispute Resolution Agreements; declare void if held outside the state. (Bell 21st) This law requires that any contractor agreement entered into with a resident or someone domiciled in Mississippi be adjudicated in Mississippi according to Mississippi law.
HB 1338: Mississippi Business Corporation Act; revise bank merger process to be consistent with and revise provisions regarding banks in Mississippi that offer open-end credit. (Zuber) This law revises provisions regarding the bank merger process to make them consistent with the Mississippi Business Corporation Act.
HB 1584: Appropriations; Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and trial judges’ services. (Read) This law has a final Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 action of $43,665,573 ($570,732 over FY 2018).
SB 2044: Special judges; expand authority of Chief Justice to appoint. (Fillingane) (Effective 3/19/18) This law allows the Chief Justice to appoint special judges in county courts. The Chief Justice already has this authority in circuit and chancery courts.
SB 2138: Code of Judicial Conduct; immunity for members of a special campaign committee. (Hopson) (Effective on passage) This law provides that the members of any special committee created under the authority of the Mississippi Code of Judicial Conduct have immunity from civil suit for any conduct arising out of the performance of their official duties. Special committees are formed during election years and may issue advisory opinions regarding allegations of ethical violations in campaigns for judicial office.
SB 2197: Criminal immunity; provide for persons when requesting assistance for medical emergency due to alcohol consumption. (Watson) This law grants immunity to a person who seeks assistance for a medical emergency due to alcohol consumption if the person reporting did not illegally provide alcohol to the person with the medical emergency, cooperated with medical assistance and law enforcement and remained at the scene until emergency medical assistance arrived.
SB 2473: Residential Landlord/Tenant Act; revise to give more protections to landlords. (Hill) This law makes numerous changes to The Landlord and Tenant Act and Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.
SB 2508: Personal property; revise definition of when used in any statute. (Parks) This law clarifies that the term “personal property” includes cash, deposit accounts and promissory notes.
SB 2527: Insurance; prohibit civil liability against a person or entity for reporting insurance fraud. (Carmichael) This law prohibits civil liability against a person or entity for furnishing information concerning insurance fraud.
SB 2668: Financial institutions; provide the order of priority to access a safe deposit box upon death of lessee. (Doty) This law provides the order of priority by which a financial institution must grant access to a safe-deposit box upon the death of the lessee. It also provides that a person seeking access to the safe-deposit box must provide to the financial institution certain documentation, and provides liability protections to financial institutions in certain instances.
SB 2958: Appropriation; Public Safety, Department of. (Clarke) Of particular interest this law provides a FY 2019 increase of $713,497 over FY 2018 for the Medical Examiner’s Office. The Office received an additional PIN3 and realignment of some staff salaries.
If you have not already, I would encourage you to join and become actively involved in one of the sixteen Sections of The Mississippi Bar. I receive numerous requests throughout the legislative session for the Bar to look at a particular amendment or piece of legislation. More often than not, I refer these requests to the appropriate Bar Section for their review. Legislators and staff sincerely appreciate and rely on the expertise and advice offered by Sections.