2023 Regular Session
To: Military Affairs
By: Representatives Roberson, Tullos, Hulum, Stamps
AN ACT TO PROVIDE THAT REFERENCES IN THE MISSISSIPPI CODE TO "ARMED FORCES" OR "UNIFORMED SERVICES" SHALL INCLUDE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES SPACE FORCE; TO AMEND SECTIONS 23-15-673, 33-1-1, 37-135-31, 49-7-351 AND 73-50-1, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, IN CONFORMITY THERETO; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Wherever the term "Armed Forces" or "Uniformed Services" shall appear in the Mississippi Code of 1972, the term shall be construed to include members of the United States Space Force.
SECTION 2. Section 23-15-673, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-673. (1) For the purposes of this subarticle, the term "absent voter" shall mean and include the following persons if they are absent from their county of residence and are otherwise qualified to vote in Mississippi:
(a) Any enlisted or commissioned members, male or female, of the United States Army, or any of its respective components or various divisions thereof; any enlisted or commissioned members, male or female, of the United States Navy, or any of its respective components or various divisions thereof; any enlisted or commissioned members, male or female, of the United States Air Force, or any of its respective components or various divisions thereof; any enlisted or commissioned members, male or female, of the United States Marines, or any of its respective components or various divisions thereof; or any persons in any division of the armed services of the United States; or any persons who are members of the United States Space Force, who are citizens of Mississippi;
(b) Any member of the Merchant Marine and the American Red Cross who is a citizen of Mississippi;
(c) Any disabled war veteran who is a patient in any hospital and who is a citizen of Mississippi;
(d) Any civilian attached to and serving outside of the United States with any branch of the Armed Forces or with the Merchant Marine or American Red Cross, and who is a citizen of Mississippi;
(e) Any trained or certified emergency response provider who is deployed during the time period authorized by law for absentee voting, on election day, or during any state of emergency declared by the President of the United States or any Governor of any state within the United States;
(f) Any citizen of Mississippi temporarily residing outside the territorial limits of the United States and the District of Columbia;
(g) Any citizen of Mississippi enrolled as a student at the United States Naval Academy, the United States Coast Guard Academy, the United States Merchant Marine Academy, the United States Air Force Academy or the United States Military Academy.
(2) The spouse and dependents of any absent voter as set out in paragraphs (a) through (g) of subsection (1) of this section shall also be included in the meaning of absent voter and may register to vote and vote an absentee ballot as provided in this subarticle if also absent from the county of their residence on the date of the election and otherwise qualified to vote in Mississippi.
(3) For the purpose of this subarticle, the term "election" shall mean and include the following sets of elections: special and runoff special elections, preferential and general elections, first and second primary elections or general elections without preferential elections, whichever system is applicable.
SECTION 3. Section 33-1-1, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
33-1-1. In this chapter, and in Chapters 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 of this title, the words:
(a) Military forces of the state shall mean the organized militia, the state retired list, the state reserve list, and the Mississippi State Guard, and all other components of the militia of the state which may hereafter be organized.
(b) Organized militia shall mean the Mississippi National Guard, including the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard, and the Mississippi State Guard when organized, and shall be deemed to include any unit, component, element, headquarters, staff or cadre thereof, as well as any member or members.
(c) Mississippi National Guard shall mean that part of the organized militia of this state which is organized, equipped and federally recognized under the provisions of the laws of the United States and of the State of Mississippi relating to the National Guard.
(d) Army National Guard shall mean the members of federally recognized units and organizations of the Mississippi National Guard which are a reserve component of the United States Army.
(e) Air National Guard shall mean the members of federally recognized units and organizations of the Mississippi National Guard which are a reserve component of the United States Air Force.
(f) Military shall include Army, Air and Naval Forces and the United States Space Force.
(g) Military fund shall mean any and all monies appropriated by the Legislature for the support of the militia and such other revenues as may be received or collected by the military department.
(h) Federal recognition or federally recognized shall mean acknowledgment by the Secretary of the Air Force or the Secretary of the Army that an individual has been appointed to an authorized grade and position vacancy appropriate to his qualifications in the Air National Guard, or the Army National Guard, and that he meets the prescribed federal requirements for such grade and position; or that the particular unit or organization has been recognized by the Secretary of the Air Force or the Secretary of the Army as a component of the Air National Guard or Army National Guard of the United States.
(i) Unit or organization shall mean a single military organization having a mission, function, and a structure prescribed by competent authority.
(j) Active state duty shall mean active military duty in other than a training status in or with a force of the organized militia or with the Adjutant General's Department, upon the orders of the Governor.
(k) State training duty shall mean military duty in a training status authorized under Title 32 of the United States Code, Annotated, and regulations issued thereunder.
(l) Service of the United States or active service of the United States shall mean any active military duty in the Armed Forces of the United States except duty for training purposes.
(m) Officer shall include commissioned officers and warrant officers of the militia of this state unless otherwise specified.
(n) Enlisted man shall be understood to designate members of the militia of this state other than officers and warrant officers.
(o) Gender–words importing the masculine gender only shall apply to female as well as male.
SECTION 4. Section 37-135-31, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
Interstate Compact on Educational
Opportunity for Military Children
Section 1. It is the purpose of this compact to remove barriers to educational success imposed on children of military families because of frequent moves and deployment of their parents by:
A. Facilitating the timely enrollment of children of military families and ensuring that they are not placed at a disadvantage due to difficulty in the transfer of education records from the previous school district(s) or variations in entrance/age requirements.
B. Facilitating the student placement process through which children of military families are not disadvantaged by variations in attendance requirements, scheduling, sequencing, grading, course content or assessment.
C. Facilitating the qualification and eligibility for enrollment, educational programs, and participation in extracurricular academic, athletic, and social activities.
D. Facilitating the on-time graduation of children of military families.
E. Providing for the promulgation and enforcement of administrative rules implementing the provisions of this compact.
F. Providing for the uniform collection and sharing of information between and among member states, schools, and military families under this compact.
G. Promoting coordination between this compact and other compacts affecting military children.
H. Promoting flexibility and cooperation between the educational system, parents, and the student in order to achieve educational success for the student.
Section 2. As used in this compact, unless the context clearly requires a different construction:
A. "Active duty" means full-time duty status in the active uniformed service of the United States, including members of the National Guard and Reserve on active duty orders pursuant to 10 USC, Sections 1209 and 1211.
B. "Children of military families" means school-aged children, enrolled in Kindergarten through 12th Grade, in the household of an active duty member.
C. "Compact commissioner" means the voting representative of each compacting state appointed pursuant to Article VIII of this compact.
D. "Deployment" means the period one (1) month prior to the service members' departure from their home station on military orders through six (6) months after return to their home station.
E. "Educational records" means those official records, files, and data directly related to a student and maintained by the school or local education agency, including, but not limited to, records encompassing all the material kept in the student's cumulative folder such as general identifying data, records of attendance and of academic work completed, records of achievement and results of evaluative tests, health data, disciplinary status, test protocols, and individualized education programs.
F. "Extracurricular activities" means a voluntary activity sponsored by the school or local education agency or an organization sanctioned by the local education agency. Extracurricular activities include, but are not limited to, preparation for and involvement in public performances, contests, athletic competitions, demonstrations, displays and club activities.
G. "Interstate Commission on Educational Opportunity for Military Children" means the commission that is created under Article IX of this compact, which is generally referred to as the Interstate Commission.
H. "Local education agency" means a public authority legally constituted by the state as an administrative agency to provide control of and direction for Kindergarten through 12th Grade public educational institutions.
I. "Member state" means a state that has enacted this compact.
J. "Military installation" means a base, camp, post, station, yard, center, homeport facility for any ship, or other activity under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense, including any leased facility, which is located within any of the several states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Marianas Islands, and any other U.S. Territory. Such term does not include any facility used primarily for civil works, river and harbor projects, or flood control projects.
K. "Nonmember state" means a state that has not enacted this compact.
L. "Receiving state" means the state to which a child of a military family is sent, brought, or caused to be sent or brought.
M. "Rule" means a written statement by the Interstate Commission promulgated pursuant to Article XII of this compact that is of general applicability; implements, interprets, or prescribes a policy or provision of the compact, or an organizational, procedural, or practice requirement of the Interstate Commission and has the force and effect of statutory law in a member state; and includes the amendment, repeal, or suspension of an existing rule.
N. "Sending state" means the state from which a child of a military family is sent, brought, or caused to be sent or brought.
O. "State" means a state of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Marianas Islands, and any other U.S. Territory.
P. "Student" means the child of a military family for whom the local education agency receives public funding and who is formally enrolled in Kindergarten through 12th Grade.
Q. "Transition" means: (i) the formal and physical process of transferring from school to school or (ii) the period of time in which a student moves from one school in the sending state to another school in the receiving state.
R. "Uniformed services" means the Army, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, as well as the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Public Health Services.
S. "Veteran" means a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable.
Section 3. A. Except as otherwise provided in subsection B, this compact shall apply to the children of:
1. Active duty members of the uniformed services as defined in this compact, including members of the National Guard and Reserve on active duty orders pursuant to 10 USC, Sections 1209 and 1211;
2. Members or veterans of the uniformed services who are severely injured and medically discharged or retired for a period of one (1) year after medical discharge or retirement; and
3. Members of the uniformed services who die on active duty or as a result of injuries sustained on active duty for a period of one (1) year after death.
B. The provisions of this interstate compact shall only apply to local education agencies as defined in this compact.
C. The provisions of this interstate compact shall not apply to the children of:
1. Inactive members of the National Guard and Military Reserves;
2. Members of the uniformed services now retired, except as provided in subsection A;
3. Veterans of the uniformed services, except as provided in subsection A; and
4. Other U.S. Department of Defense personnel and other federal agency civilian and contract employees not defined as active duty members of the uniformed services.
EDUCATIONAL RECORDS AND ENROLLMENT
Section 4. A. Unofficial or "hand-carried" education records. In the event that official education records cannot be released to the parents for the purpose of transfer, the custodian of the records in the sending state shall prepare and furnish to the parent a complete set of unofficial educational records containing uniform information as determined by the Interstate Commission. Upon receipt of the unofficial education records by a school in the receiving state, the school shall enroll and appropriately place the student based on the information provided in the unofficial records pending validation by the official records, as quickly as possible.
B. Official education records/transcripts. Simultaneous with the enrollment and conditional placement of the student, the school in the receiving state shall request the student's official education records from the school in the sending state. Upon receipt of this request, the school in the sending state will process and furnish the official education records to the school in the receiving state within ten (10) days or within such time as is reasonably determined under the rules promulgated by the Interstate Commission.
C. Immunizations. Compacting states shall give thirty (30) days from the date of enrollment or within such time as is reasonably determined under the rules promulgated by the Interstate Commission for students to obtain any immunization(s) required by the receiving state. For a series of immunizations, initial vaccinations must be obtained within thirty (30) days or within such time as is reasonably determined under the rules promulgated by the Interstate Commission.
D. Kindergarten and First Grade entrance age. Students shall be allowed to continue their enrollment at the grade level in the receiving state commensurate with their grade level (including kindergarten) from a local education agency in the sending state at the time of transition, regardless of age. A student who has satisfactorily completed the prerequisite grade level in the local education agency in the sending state shall be eligible for enrollment in the next highest grade level in the receiving state, regardless of age. A student transferring after the start of the school year in the receiving state shall enter the school in the receiving state on their validated level from an accredited school in the sending state.
PLACEMENT AND ATTENDANCE
Section 5. A. Course placement. When the student transfers before or during the school year, the receiving state school shall initially honor placement of the student in educational courses based on the student's enrollment in the sending state school and/or educational assessments conducted at the school in the sending state if the courses are offered. Course placement includes, but is not limited to, honors, International Baccalaureate, advanced placement, vocational, technical, and career pathway courses. Continuing the student's academic program from the previous school and promoting placement in academically and career challenging courses should be paramount when considering placement. This does not preclude the school in the receiving state from performing subsequent evaluations to ensure appropriate placement and continued enrollment of the student in the course(s).
B. Educational program placement. The receiving state school shall initially honor placement of the student in educational programs based on current educational assessments conducted at the school in the sending state or participation/placement in like programs in the sending state. Such programs include, but are not limited to, (i) gifted and talented programs, and (ii) English as a second language (ESL). This does not preclude the school in the receiving state from performing subsequent evaluations to ensure appropriate placement of the student.
C. Special education services. In compliance with the federal requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 USC, Section 1400 et seq., the receiving state shall initially provide comparable services to a student with disabilities based on his/her current Individualized Education Program (IEP) and in compliance with the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 USC, Section 794, and with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 USC, Sections 12131-12165, and the receiving state shall make reasonable accommodations and modifications to address the needs of incoming students with disabilities, subject to an existing 504 or Title II Plan, to provide the student with equal access to education. This does not preclude the school in the receiving state from performing subsequent evaluations to ensure appropriate placement of the student.
D. Placement flexibility. Local education agency administrative officials shall have flexibility in waiving course/program prerequisites or other preconditions for placement in courses/programs offered under the jurisdiction of the local education agency.
E. Absence as related to deployment activities. A student whose parent or legal guardian is an active duty member of the uniformed services, as defined by the compact, and has been called to duty for, is on leave from, or has immediately returned from deployment to a combat zone or combat support posting, shall be granted additional excused absences at the discretion of the local education agency superintendent to visit with his or her parent or legal guardian relative to such leave or deployment of the parent or guardian.
Section 6. A. Eligibility for enrollment.
1. Special power of attorney, relative to the guardianship of a child of a military family, and executed under applicable law, shall be sufficient for the purposes of enrollment and all other actions requiring parental participation and consent;
2. A local education agency shall be prohibited from charging local tuition to a transitioning military child placed in the care of a noncustodial parent or other person standing in loco parentis who lives in a jurisdiction other than that of the custodial parent; and
3. A transitioning military child, placed in the care of a noncustodial parent or other person standing in loco parentis who lives in a jurisdiction other than that of the custodial parent, may continue to attend the school in which he/she was enrolled while residing with the custodial parent.
B. Eligibility for extracurricular participation. State and local education agencies shall facilitate the opportunity for transitioning military children's inclusion in extracurricular activities, regardless of application deadlines, to the extent they are otherwise qualified.
Section 7. In order to facilitate the on-time graduation of children of military families, state and local education agencies shall incorporate the following procedures:
A. Waiver requirements. Local education agency administrative officials shall waive specific courses required for graduation if similar coursework has been satisfactorily completed in another local education agency or shall provide reasonable justification for denial. Should a waiver not be granted to a student who would qualify to graduate from the sending school, the local education agency shall provide an alternative means of acquiring required coursework so that graduation may occur on time.
B. Exit exams. States shall accept: (i) exit or end-of-course exams required for graduation from the sending state, (ii) national norm-referenced achievement tests, or (iii) alternative testing, in lieu of testing requirements for graduation in the receiving state. In the event the above alternatives cannot be accommodated by the receiving state for a student transferring in his or her senior year, then the provisions of Article VII, subsection C shall apply.
C. Transfers during senior year. Should a military student transferring at the beginning or during his or her senior year be ineligible to graduate from the receiving local education agency after all alternatives have been considered, the sending and receiving local education agencies shall ensure the receipt of a diploma from the sending local education agency, if the student meets the graduation requirements of the sending local education agency. In the event that one (1) of the states in question is not a member of this compact, the member state shall use best efforts to facilitate the on-time graduation of the student in accordance with subsections A and B of this Article.
Section 8. A. Each member state shall, through the creation of a State Council or use of an existing body or board, provide for the coordination among its agencies of government, local education agencies, and military installations concerning the state's participation in, and compliance with, this compact and Interstate Commission activities. While each member state may determine the membership of its own State Council, its membership must include at least: (i) the State Superintendent of Education, (ii) the superintendent of a school district with a high concentration of military children, (iii) one (1) representative from a military installation, (iv) one (1) representative each from the legislative and executive branches of government, and other offices and stakeholder groups the State Council deems appropriate. A member state that does not have a school district deemed to contain a high concentration of military children may appoint a superintendent from another school district to represent local education agencies on the State Council.
B. The State Council of each member state shall appoint or designate a military family education liaison to assist military families and the state in facilitating the implementation of this compact.
C. The Governor of each member state shall appoint or designate a compact commissioner responsible for the administration and management of the state's participation in the compact and who is empowered to establish statewide policy related to matters governed by this compact.
D. The compact commissioner and the military family education liaison designated herein shall be ex officio members of the State Council, unless either is already a full voting member of the State Council.
INTERSTATE COMMISSION ON EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY
FOR MILITARY CHILDREN
Section 9. The member states hereby create the Interstate Commission on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. The activities of the Interstate Commission are the formation of public policy and are a discretionary state function. The Interstate Commission shall:
A. Be a body corporate and joint agency of the member states and shall have all the responsibilities, powers, and duties set forth herein and such additional powers as may be conferred upon it by a subsequent concurrent action of the respective Legislatures of the member states in accordance with the terms of this compact.
B. Consist of one (1) Interstate Commission voting representative from each member state who shall be that state's compact commissioner and who is empowered to establish statewide policy related to matters governed by this compact.
1. Each member state represented at a meeting of the Interstate Commission is entitled to one (1) vote;
2. A majority of the total member states shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, unless a larger quorum is required by the bylaws of the Interstate Commission;
3. A representative shall not delegate a vote to another member state. In the event the compact commissioner is unable to attend a meeting of the Interstate Commission, the Governor or State Council may delegate voting authority to another person from the state for a specified meeting; and
4. The bylaws may provide for meetings of the Interstate Commission to be conducted by telecommunication or electronic communication.
C. Consist of ex officio, nonvoting representatives who are members of interested organizations. Such ex officio members, as defined in the bylaws, may include, but not be limited to, members of the representative organizations of military family advocates, local education agency officials, parent and teacher groups, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Education Commission of the States, the Interstate Agreement on the Qualification of Educational Personnel, and other interstate compacts affecting the education of children of military members.
D. Meet at least once each calendar year. The chairperson may call additional meetings and, upon the request of a simple majority of the member states, shall call additional meetings.
E. Establish an executive committee, whose members shall include the officers of the Interstate Commission and such other members of the Interstate Commission as determined by the bylaws. Members of the executive committee shall serve a one-year term. Members of the executive committee shall be entitled to one (1) vote each. The executive committee shall have the power to act on behalf of the Interstate Commission, with the exception of rule-making, during periods when the Interstate Commission is not in session. The executive committee shall oversee the day-to-day activities of the administration of the compact, including enforcement and compliance with the provisions of the compact, its bylaws and rules, and other such duties as deemed necessary. The U.S. Department of Defense shall serve as an ex officio, nonvoting member of the executive committee.
F. Establish bylaws and rules that provide for conditions and procedures under which the Interstate Commission shall make its information and official records available to the public for inspection or copying. The Interstate Commission may exempt from disclosure information or official records to the extent they would adversely affect personal privacy rights or proprietary interests.
G. Public notice shall be given by the Interstate Commission of all meetings, and all meetings shall be open to the public, except as set forth in the rules or as otherwise provided in the compact. The Interstate Commission and its committees may close a meeting, or portion thereof, when it determines by two-thirds (2/3) vote that an open meeting would be likely to:
1. Relate solely to the Interstate Commission's internal personnel practices and procedures;
2. Disclose matters specifically exempted from disclosure by federal and state statute;
3. Disclose trade secrets or commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential;
4. Involve accusing a person of a crime or formally censuring a person;
5. Disclose information of a personal nature where disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
6. Disclose investigative records compiled for law enforcement purposes; or
7. Specifically relate to the Interstate Commission's participation in a civil action or other legal proceeding.
H. For a meeting, or portion of a meeting, closed pursuant to the provisions of subsection G, the Interstate Commission's legal counsel or designee shall certify that the meeting may be closed and shall reference each relevant exemptible provision. The Interstate Commission shall keep minutes, which shall fully and clearly describe all matters discussed in a meeting and shall provide a full and accurate summary of actions taken, and the reasons therefor, including a description of the views expressed and the record of a roll call vote. All documents considered in connection with an action shall be identified in such minutes. All minutes and documents of a closed meeting shall remain under seal, subject to release by a majority vote of the Interstate Commission.
I. The Interstate Commission shall collect standardized data concerning the educational transition of the children of military families under this compact as directed through its rules, which shall specify the data to be collected, the means of collection and data exchange, and reporting requirements. Such methods of data collection, exchange, and reporting shall, insofar as is reasonably possible, conform to current technology and coordinate its information functions with the appropriate custodian of records as identified in the bylaws and rules.
J. The Interstate Commission shall create a process that permits military officials, education officials, and parents to inform the Interstate Commission if and when there are alleged violations of the compact or its rules or when issues subject to the jurisdiction of the compact or its rules are not addressed by the state or local education agency. This subsection shall not be construed to create a private right of action against the Interstate Commission or any member state.
POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE INTERSTATE COMMISSION
Section 10. The Interstate Commission shall have the following powers:
A. To provide for dispute resolution among member states.
B. To promulgate rules and take all necessary actions to effect the goals, purposes, and obligations as enumerated in this compact. The rules shall have the force and effect of statutory law and shall be binding in the compact states to the extent and in the manner provided in this compact.
C. To issue, upon request of a member state, advisory opinions concerning the meaning or interpretation of the interstate compact, its bylaws, rules, and actions.
D. To enforce compliance with the compact provisions, the rules promulgated by the Interstate Commission, and the bylaws, using all necessary and proper means, including, but not limited to, the use of judicial process.
E. To establish and maintain offices, which shall be located within one or more of the member states.
F. To purchase and maintain insurance and bonds.
G. To borrow, accept, hire, or contract for services of personnel.
H. To establish and appoint committees, including, but not limited to, an executive committee as required by Article IX, subsection E, which shall have the power to act on behalf of the Interstate Commission in carrying out its powers and duties hereunder.
I. To elect or appoint such officers, attorneys, employees, agents, or consultants, and to fix their compensation, define their duties, and determine their qualifications and to establish the Interstate Commission's personnel policies and programs relating to conflicts of interest, rates of compensation, and qualifications of personnel.
J. To accept any and all donations and grants of money, equipment, supplies, materials, and services and to receive, utilize, and dispose of them.
K. To lease, purchase, accept contributions or donations of, or otherwise to own, hold, improve, or use any property, real, personal, or mixed.
L. To sell, convey, mortgage, pledge, lease, exchange, abandon, or otherwise dispose of any property, real, personal, or mixed.
M. To establish a budget and make expenditures.
N. To adopt a seal and bylaws governing the management and operation of the Interstate Commission.
O. To report annually to the Legislatures, Governors, judiciary, and state councils of the member states concerning the activities of the Interstate Commission during the preceding year. Such reports shall also include any recommendations that may have been adopted by the Interstate Commission.
P. To coordinate education, training, and public awareness regarding the compact, its implementation, and operation for officials and parents involved in such activity.
Q. To establish uniform standards for the reporting, collecting, and exchanging of data.
R. To maintain corporate books and records in accordance with the bylaws.
S. To perform such functions as may be necessary or appropriate to achieve the purposes of this compact.
T. To provide for the uniform collection and sharing of information between and among member states, schools, and military families under this compact.
ORGANIZATION AND OPERATION OF THE INTERSTATE COMMISSION
Section 11. A. The Interstate Commission shall, by a majority of the members present and voting, within twelve (12) months after the first Interstate Commission meeting, adopt bylaws to govern its conduct as may be necessary or appropriate to carry out the purposes of the compact, including, but not limited to:
1. Establishing the fiscal year of the Interstate Commission;
2. Establishing an executive committee and such other committees as may be necessary;
3. Providing for the establishment of committees and for governing any general or specific delegation of authority or function of the Interstate Commission;
4. Providing reasonable procedures for calling and conducting meetings of the Interstate Commission and ensuring reasonable notice of each such meetings;
5. Establishing the titles and responsibilities of the officers and staff of the Interstate Commission;
6. Providing a mechanism for concluding the operations of the Interstate Commission and the return of surplus funds that may exist upon the termination of the compact after the payment and reserving all of its debts and obligations; and
7. Providing "start-up" rules for initial administration of the compact.
B. The Interstate Commission shall, by a majority of the members, elect annually from among its members a chairperson, a vice chairperson and a treasurer, each of whom shall have the authority and duties as may be specified in the bylaws. The chairperson or, in the chairperson's absence or disability, the vice chairperson shall preside at all meetings of the Interstate Commission. The officers so elected shall serve without compensation or remuneration from the Interstate Commission provided that, subject to the availability of budgeted funds, the officers shall be reimbursed for ordinary and necessary costs and expenses incurred by them in the performance of their responsibilities as officers of the Interstate Commission.
C. Executive Committee, officers, and personnel.
1. The executive committee shall have such authority and duties as may be set forth in the bylaws, including, but not limited to: (a) managing the affairs of the Interstate Commission in a manner consistent with the bylaws and purposes of the Interstate Commission; (b) overseeing an organizational structure within and appropriate procedures for the Interstate Commission to provide for the creation of rules, operating procedures, and administrative and technical support functions; and (c) planning, implementing, and coordinating communications and activities with other state, federal, and local government organizations in order to advance the goals of the Interstate Commission.
2. The executive committee may, subject to the approval of the Interstate Commission, appoint or retain an executive director for such period, upon such terms and conditions, and for such compensation as the Interstate Commission may deem appropriate. The executive director shall serve as secretary to the Interstate Commission, but shall not be a member of the Interstate Commission. The executive director shall hire and supervise such other persons as may be authorized by the Interstate Commission.
D. The Interstate Commission's executive director and its employees shall be immune from suit and liability, either personally or in their official capacity, for a claim for damage to or loss of property or personal injury or other civil liability caused or arising out of or relating to an actual or alleged act, error, or omission that occurred, or that such person had a reasonable basis for believing occurred, within the scope of Interstate Commission employment, duties, or responsibilities, provided that such person shall not be protected from suit or liability for damage, loss, injury, or liability caused by the intentional or willful and wanton misconduct of such person.
1. The liability of the Interstate Commission's executive director and employees or the Interstate Commission representatives, acting within the scope of their employment or duties for acts, errors, or omissions occurring within such person's state, may not exceed the limits of liability set forth under the constitution and laws of that state for state officials, employees, and agents. The Interstate Commission is considered to be an instrumentality of the states for the purposes of any such action. Nothing in this subsection D shall be construed to protect such person from suit or liability for damage, loss, injury, or liability caused by the intentional or willful and wanton misconduct of such person.
2. The Interstate Commission shall defend the executive director and its employees and, subject to the approval of the Attorney General or other appropriate legal counsel of the member state represented by an Interstate Commission representative, shall defend such Interstate Commission representative in any civil action seeking to impose liability arising out of an actual or alleged act, error, or omission that occurred within the scope of Interstate Commission employment, duties, or responsibilities, or that the defendant had a reasonable basis for believing occurred within the scope of Interstate Commission employment, duties, or responsibilities provided that the actual or alleged act, error, or omission did not result from intentional or willful and wanton misconduct on the part of such person.
3. To the extent not covered by the state involved, member state, or the Interstate Commission, the representatives or employees of the Interstate Commission shall be held harmless in the amount of a settlement or judgment, including attorney's fees and costs, obtained against such persons arising out of an actual or alleged act, error, or omission that occurred within the scope of Interstate Commission employment, duties, or responsibilities, or that such persons had a reasonable basis for believing occurred within the scope of Interstate Commission employment, duties, or responsibilities, provided that the actual or alleged act, error, or omission did not result from intentional or willful and wanton misconduct on the part of such persons.
RULE-MAKING FUNCTIONS OF THE INTERSTATE COMMISSION
Section 12. A. Rule-making authority. The Interstate Commission shall promulgate reasonable rules in order to effectively and efficiently achieve the purposes of this compact. Notwithstanding the foregoing, in the event the Interstate Commission exercises its rule-making authority in a manner that is beyond the scope of the purposes of this compact, or the powers granted hereunder, then such an action by the Interstate Commission shall be invalid and have no force or effect.
B. Rule-making procedure. Rules shall be made pursuant to a rule-making process that substantially conforms to the "Model State Administrative Procedure Act," of 1981 Act, Uniform Laws Annotated, Vol. 15, p. 1 (2000) as amended, as may be appropriate to the operations of the Interstate Commission.
C. Not later than thirty (30) days after a rule is promulgated, any person may file a petition for judicial review of the rule provided that the filing of such a petition shall not stay or otherwise prevent the rule from becoming effective unless the court finds that the petitioner has a substantial likelihood of success. The court shall give deference to the actions of the Interstate Commission consistent with applicable law and shall not find the rule to be unlawful if the rule represents a reasonable exercise of the Interstate Commission's authority.
D. If a majority of the Legislatures of the compacting states rejects a rule by enactment of a statute or resolution in the same manner used to adopt the compact, then such rule shall have no further force and effect in any compacting state.
OVERSIGHT, ENFORCEMENT, AND DISPUTE RESOLUTION
Section 13. A. Oversight.
1. The executive, legislative, and judicial branches of state government in each member state shall enforce this compact and shall take all actions necessary and appropriate to effectuate the compact's purposes and intent. The provisions of this compact and the rules promulgated hereunder shall have standing as statutory law;
2. All courts shall take judicial notice of the compact and the rules in any judicial or administrative proceeding in a member state pertaining to the subject matter of this compact which may affect the powers, responsibilities, or actions of the Interstate Commission; and
3. The Interstate Commission shall be entitled to receive all service of process in any such proceeding and shall have standing to intervene in the proceeding for all purposes. Failure to provide service of process to the Interstate Commission shall render a judgment or order void as to the Interstate Commission, this compact, or promulgated rules.
B. Default, technical assistance, suspension, and termination.
If the Interstate Commission determines that a member state has defaulted in the performance of its obligations or responsibilities under this compact, or the bylaws or promulgated rules, the Interstate Commission shall:
1. Provide written notice to the defaulting state and other member states of the nature of the default, the means of curing the default, and any action taken by the Interstate Commission. The Interstate Commission shall specify the conditions by which the defaulting state must cure its default;
2. Provide remedial training and specific technical assistance regarding the default;
3. If the defaulting state fails to cure the default, the defaulting state shall be terminated from the compact upon an affirmative vote of a majority of the member states, and all rights, privileges, and benefits conferred by this compact shall be terminated from the effective date of termination. A cure of the default does not relieve the offending state of obligations or liabilities incurred during the period of the default;
4. Suspension or termination of membership in the compact shall be imposed only after all other means of securing compliance have been exhausted. Notice of intent to suspend or terminate shall be given by the Interstate Commission to the Governor, the majority and minority leaders of the defaulting state's Legislature, and each of the member states;
5. The state which has been suspended or terminated is responsible for all assessments, obligations, and liabilities incurred through the effective date of suspension or termination, including obligations the performance of which extends beyond the effective date of suspension or termination;
6. The Interstate Commission shall not bear any costs relating to any state that has been found to be in default or which has been suspended or terminated from the compact, unless otherwise mutually agreed upon in writing between the Interstate Commission and the defaulting state; and
7. The defaulting state may appeal the action of the Interstate Commission by petitioning the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or the federal district where the Interstate Commission has its principal offices. The prevailing party shall be awarded all costs of such litigation including reasonable attorney's fees.
C. Dispute resolution.
1. The Interstate Commission shall attempt, upon the request of a member state, to resolve disputes that are subject to the compact and that may arise among member states and between member and nonmember states.
2. The Interstate Commission shall promulgate a rule providing for both mediation and binding dispute resolution for disputes as appropriate.
1. The Interstate Commission, in the reasonable exercise of its discretion, shall enforce the provisions and rules of this compact.
2. The Interstate Commission may by majority vote of the members initiate legal action in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or, at the discretion of the Interstate Commission, in the federal district where the Interstate Commission has its principal offices to enforce compliance with the provisions of the compact, its promulgated rules and bylaws against a member state in default. The relief sought may include both injunctive relief and damages. In the event judicial enforcement is necessary, the prevailing party shall be awarded all costs of such litigation including reasonable attorney's fees.
3. The remedies herein shall not be the exclusive remedies of the Interstate Commission. The Interstate Commission may avail itself of any other remedies available under state law or the regulation of a profession.
FINANCING OF THE INTERSTATE COMMISSION
Section 14. A. The Interstate Commission shall pay or provide for the payment of the reasonable expenses of its establishment, organization, and ongoing activities.
B. The Interstate Commission may levy on and collect an annual assessment from each member state to cover the cost of the operations and activities of the Interstate Commission and its staff, which must be in a total amount sufficient to cover the Interstate Commission's annual budget as approved each year. The aggregate annual assessment amount shall be allocated based upon a formula to be determined by the Interstate Commission, which shall promulgate a rule binding upon all member states.
C. The Interstate Commission shall not incur obligations of any kind prior to securing the funds adequate to meet the same nor shall the Interstate Commission pledge the credit of any of the member states, except by and with the authority of the member state.
D. The Interstate Commission shall keep accurate accounts of all receipts and disbursements. The receipts and disbursements of the Interstate Commission shall be subject to the audit and accounting procedures established under its bylaws. However, all receipts and disbursements of funds handled by the Interstate Commission shall be audited yearly by a certified or licensed public accountant and the report of the audit shall be included in and become part of the annual report of the Interstate Commission.
MEMBER STATES, EFFECTIVE DATE, AND AMENDMENT
Section 15. A. Any state is eligible to become a member state.
B. The compact shall become effective and binding upon legislative enactment of the compact into law by no less than ten (10) of the states. The effective date shall be no earlier than December 1, 2008. Thereafter it shall become effective and binding as to any other member state upon enactment of the compact into law by that state. The Governors of nonmember states or their designees shall be invited to participate in the activities of the Interstate Commission on a nonvoting basis prior to adoption of the compact by all states.
C. The Interstate Commission may propose amendments to the compact for enactment by the member states. No amendment shall become effective and binding upon the Interstate Commission and the member states unless and until it is enacted into law by unanimous consent of the member states.
WITHDRAWAL AND DISSOLUTION
Section 16. A. Withdrawal.
1. Once effective, the compact shall continue in force and remain binding upon each and every member state, provided that a member state may withdraw from the compact specifically by repealing the statute which enacted the compact into law.
2. Withdrawal from this compact shall be by the enactment of a statute repealing the same, but shall not take effect until one (1) year after the effective date of such statute and until written notice of the withdrawal has been given by the withdrawing state to the Governor of each other member jurisdiction.
3. The withdrawing state shall immediately notify the chairperson of the Interstate Commission in writing upon the introduction of legislation repealing this compact in the withdrawing state. The Interstate Commission shall notify the other member states of the withdrawing state's intent to withdraw within sixty (60) days of its receipt thereof.
4. The withdrawing state is responsible for all assessments, obligations, and liabilities incurred through the effective date of withdrawal, including obligations the performance of which extends beyond the effective date of withdrawal.
5. Reinstatement following withdrawal of a member state shall occur upon the withdrawing state reenacting the compact or upon such later date as determined by the Interstate Commission.
B. Dissolution of compact.
1. This compact shall dissolve effective upon the date of the withdrawal or default of the member state that reduces the membership in the compact to one (1) member state.
2. Upon the dissolution of this compact, the compact becomes null and void and shall be of no further force or effect and the business and affairs of the Interstate Commission shall be concluded and surplus funds shall be distributed in accordance with the bylaws.
SEVERABILITY AND CONSTRUCTION
Section 17. A. The provisions of this compact shall be severable and if any phrase, clause, sentence, or provision is deemed unenforceable, the remaining provisions of the compact shall be enforceable.
B. The provisions of this compact shall be liberally construed to effectuate its purposes.
C. Nothing in this compact shall be construed to prohibit the applicability of other interstate compacts to which the states are members.
BINDING EFFECT OF COMPACT AND OTHER LAWS
Section 18. A. Other laws.
1. Nothing herein prevents the enforcement of any other law of a member state that is not inconsistent with this compact.
2. All member states' laws conflicting with this compact are superseded to the extent of the conflict.
B. Binding effect of the compact.
1. All lawful actions of the Interstate Commission, including all rules and bylaws promulgated by the Interstate Commission, are binding upon the member states.
2. All agreements between the Interstate Commission and the member states are binding in accordance with their terms.
3. In the event any provision of this compact exceeds the constitutional limits imposed on the Legislature of any member state, such provision shall be ineffective to the extent of the conflict with the constitutional provision in question in that member state.
SECTION 5. Section 49-7-351, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
49-7-351. (1) The purpose of this section is to honor wounded veterans and active duty service members by providing hunting, fishing and other recreational opportunities for them in state wildlife management areas and wildlife refuges.
(2) As used in this section, the term:
(a) "Active duty" means full-time duty in the Armed Forces, Reserves or National Guard during wartime service as defined by the United States Congress.
(b) "Armed Forces" means the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Space Force and Coast Guard.
(c) "National Guard" means the Army National Guard and the Air Force National Guard of the United States.
(d) "Reserves" means the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Air Force Reserve and Coast Guard Reserve.
(3) The Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks may designate an area or areas or establish special seasons within wildlife management areas and wildlife refuges for hunting, fishing and other recreational activities for eligible veterans and active duty service members to be known as "Wounded Warrior Special Programs."
(4) The designated areas or special seasons shall be open to a person who:
(a) Is an active duty member of the Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserves and has a combat-related physical injury as determined by the member's branch of service; or
(b) Is a veteran member of the Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserves who served on active duty during a period of war as defined by the United States Congress, and:
(i) Has a service-connected physical disability as determined by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs; or
(ii) Was discharged or released from military service because of a physical disability acquired or aggravated while serving on active duty during a period of war.
(5) The department may allow one (1) person to accompany an eligible veteran or active duty service member who requires assistance to hunt, fish or participate in the recreational activity.
(6) The commission may adopt any rules and regulations deemed necessary to administer this section.
SECTION 6. Section 73-50-1, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
73-50-1. (1) This section shall be known as the "Military Family Freedom Act."
(2) As used in this section, the term:
(a) "License" means any license (other than a privilege license), certificate, registration or other evidence of qualification that an individual is required to obtain before he or she may engage in or represent himself or herself to be a member of a particular profession or occupation.
(b) "Occupational licensing board" means any state board, commission, department or other agency in Mississippi that is established for the primary purpose of regulating the entry of persons into, and/or the conduct of persons within, a particular profession or occupation, and which is authorized to issue licenses. For the purposes of this section, the State Department of Education shall be considered an occupational licensing board when issuing teacher licenses under Section 37-3-2.
(c) "Military" means the Armed Forces or Reserves of the United States, including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force, Space Force and the reserve components thereof, the National Guard of any state, the military reserves of any state, or the naval militia of any state.
(3) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an occupational licensing board shall issue a license to an applicant who is a member of the military, or an applicant who is married to or is a dependent of a member of the military, if, upon application to an occupational licensing board, the applicant satisfies the following conditions:
(a) The applicant has been awarded a military occupational specialty, completed a military program of training, completed testing or equivalent training and experience, and performed in the occupational specialty; or
(b) The applicant holds a current and valid license in another state in an occupation with a similar scope of practice, as determined by the occupational licensing board in Mississippi and has held this license from the occupational licensing board in the other state for at least one (1) year; and
(c) The applicant has not committed any act in the other state that would have constituted grounds for refusal, suspension or revocation of a license to practice that occupation in Mississippi at the time the act was committed, the occupational licensing board in the other state holds the applicant in good standing, and the applicant does not have a disqualifying criminal record as determined by the occupational licensing board in Mississippi under Mississippi law; and
(d) The applicant did not surrender a license because of negligence or intentional misconduct related to the applicant's work in the occupation in another state; and
(e) The applicant does not have a complaint, allegation or investigation pending before an occupational licensing board or other board in another state that relates to unprofessional conduct or an alleged crime. If the applicant has a complaint, allegation or investigation pending, the occupational licensing board in Mississippi shall not issue or deny a license to the applicant until the complaint, allegation or investigation is resolved, or the applicant otherwise satisfies the criteria for licensure in Mississippi to the satisfaction of the occupational licensing board in Mississippi; and
(f) The applicant pays all applicable fees in Mississippi.
(4) Notwithstanding any other law, the occupational licensing board shall issue a license to an applicant who is a member of the military, or an applicant who is married to or is a dependent of a member of the military, upon application based on work experience in another state, if all the following apply:
(a) The applicant worked in a state that does not use a license to regulate a lawful occupation, but Mississippi uses a license to regulate a lawful occupation with a similar scope of practice, as determined by the occupational licensing board;
(b) The applicant worked for at least three (3) years in the lawful occupation; and
(c) The applicant satisfies the provisions of paragraphs (c) through (f) of subsection (3) of this section.
(5) An occupational licensing board may require an applicant to pass a jurisprudential examination specific to relevant state laws in Mississippi that regulate the occupation if the issuance of a license in Mississippi requires an applicant to pass a jurisprudential examination specific to relevant state statutes and administrative rules in Mississippi that regulate the occupation.
(6) The occupational licensing board shall issue or deny the license to the applicant within one hundred twenty days (120) days after receiving an application.
If the application requires longer than two (2) weeks to process, the occupational licensing board shall issue a temporary practice permit within thirty (30) days after receiving the application if the applicant submits an affidavit, under penalties of perjury, affirming that he or she satisfies the provisions of subsection (3)(a) or subsection (3)(b) of this section and subsection (3)(c) through (e) and pays all applicable fees as required by subsection (3)(f), or satisfies the provisions of subsection (4)(a) through (c) and pays all applicable fees as required by subsection (3)(f).
The applicant may practice under the temporary permit until a license is granted, or until a notice to deny the license is issued, in accordance with rules adopted by the occupational licensing board. A temporary license will expire in three hundred sixty-five (365) days after its issuance if the applicant fails to satisfy the requirement for licensure in subsection (5), if applicable.
(7) (a) The applicant may appeal any of the following decisions of an occupational licensing board to a court of general jurisdiction:
(i) Denial of a license;
(ii) Determination of the occupation;
(iii) Determination of the similarity of the scope of practice of the license issued; or
(iv) Other determinations under this section.
(b) The court shall determine all questions of law, including the interpretation of a constitutional or statutory provision or a rule adopted by an occupational licensing board, without regard to any previous determination that may have been made on the question in any action before the occupational licensing board.
(8) An occupational licensing board shall prominently print the following on all license applications, any communication denying a license, and on the board's website: "Pursuant to the provisions of the Military Family Freedom Act, Mississippi shall recognize occupational licenses obtained from other states for military members and their families." An occupational licensing board shall prepare and place on the board's website an annual report detailing the number of applications submitted to the licensing board under this section during a calendar year and the actions taken by the board on the applications.
(9) An occupational licensing board shall adopt rules necessary to implement this section by January 1, 2021. In addition, an occupational licensing board shall make all reasonable efforts to issue a license to an applicant for a license under this section.
(10) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a military applicant, spouse or dependent from proceeding under the existing licensure requirements established by an occupational licensing board in Mississippi.
(11) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prevent Mississippi from entering into a licensing compact or reciprocity agreement with another state, foreign province or foreign country. A license issued under this section is valid only in Mississippi. It does not make the person eligible to work in another state under an interstate compact or reciprocity agreement unless otherwise provided in Mississippi law.
(12) Nothing in this section shall be construed to apply to the practice of law as regulated under Section 73-3-1 et seq.
(13) This section preempts any ordinances of any municipality, county and other political subdivisions of the State of Mississippi that regulate licenses.
SECTION 7. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2023.