The 2022 Mississippi Legislative Session is now complete and the NGAMS legislative committee and staff is happy to report another very successful year for our Service members. Please check out our “Successes” under this tab for a full accounting of the new laws from previous years.
For the current year, through the efforts of the Legislative Committee, the members of the NGAMS, the Director of Legislative Affairs and Economic Development for the Adjutant General, and our leadership in the Mississippi Legislature, we had an incredibly successful legislative session. The following proposals have passed and been signed into law.
First, we are ecstatic to announce that we obtained an increase of the Mississippi Military Department budget. Over the past six years we have seen an increase in the budget for five of those years. Further, the Mississippi Military Department gained $2,000,000 in additional appropriation for planning, construction, repair, renovation, replacement, furnishing and equipping readiness centers around Mississippi. Another $1,000,000 was obtained to extend of the military equipment storage depot at Camp Shelby. Under the American Rescue Plan Act $10,931,000 was obtained to repair for the purpose of completing capital projects at Mississippi National Guard buildings and grounds. $6,000,000 was awarded to assist in paying the costs associated with land acquisition, site development and construction, furnishing and equipping of new buildings and facilities for, and the relocation of, the Mississippi Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby to an area fronting Highway 49. Finally, an additional $2,000,000 per year was provided to offset the educational expenses of our Service members.
We are also excited to report the following successes in the nonrevenue bills.
House Bill 1486 amends Section 63-1-208 and revises Mississippi’s Commercial Driver’s License Qualification Standards by requiring the Commission of Public Safety to implement test waivers for certain current and former military service members. Currently applicants for a Mississippi commercial driver’s license or CDL must pass a knowledge test and a practical driving skills test. Under House Bill 1486 the Commission will implement test waivers for certain former and current military service members as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reviewed the training provided by each branch of service and determined that the programs of instruction are more thorough and comprehensive than current required training. The bill also provides waivers for certain endorsement tests to include hazardous materials, tanker vehicle, and passenger vehicle endorsements.
Military service members obtaining their commercial driver’s license through these waivers will not be required to obtain a commercial driver learner’s permit. In addition, service members will not be required to meet the requirements of the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration’s Entry Level Drivers Training regulations. Members of the Mississippi National Guard, Reserve, and Active-Duty branches of service will be included in the military service members who qualify for the waivers. The waivers will also be available to separated Service members up to one year following their separation.
Why this matters to us: This change is a benefit of service. This bill allows Service members to utilize their military training to obtain a civilian career and save them time, money and abolishes the requirement for duplicate training.
Amends Section 33-7-119, to remove an arbitrary provision requiring the state retirement of a member of the Mississippi National Guard upon reaching age 64. Members of the Mississippi National Guard, whether officer or enlisted, will now be able to serve as long as they are able to maintain federal recognition.
Why this matters to us: The current law is inconsistent with the federal guidelines and places the Mississippi National Guard at a disadvantage as we are unable to retain qualified and experienced officers due to an arbitrary rule. The new law allows the Mississippi National Guard to better manage its ranks and better serve our members.
Amends section 33-11-1, to authorize the adjutant general, on behalf of the state, to convey back to a public entity real property on behalf of the state that is in the best interest of the Mississippi military department and convey to any public entity upon such terms and conditions as the adjutant general may deem advisable
Why this matters to us: There is currently no statutory authority for the adjutant general to transfer property from the Mississippi National Guard back to the original public entity that owned it. The change in the statute allows the Mississippi National Guard to return property no longer utilized for training to avoid unnecessary costs of maintenance and upkeep.
As we state each year, every one of these statutory changes is tied to a personal story of at least one of our Service members, family members, or retirees. It is our honor to work on their behalf. However we cannot protect and serve you if you are not a member and if you are not involved. Join today, attend the conferences, and find a place where you can serve in our organization. Your future and the future of your Mississippi National Guard depends on it.