2023 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Chassaniol
AN ACT TO ESTABLISH A MISSISSIPPI USA SEMIQUINCENTENNIAL COMMISSION TO DEVELOP PROGRAMS FOR OBSERVING THE 250TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; TO AUTHORIZE COOPERATION WITH THE UNITED STATES SEMIQUINCENTENNIAL COMMISSION AND THE AMERICA250 FOUNDATION AND OTHER PUBLIC AND PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS; TO DESIGNATE SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES OF THE COMMISSION; TO PROVIDE FOR THE MEMBERSHIP AND ORGANIZATION OF THE COMMISSION; TO PROVIDE FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES; TO PROHIBIT SOLICITATION OF FUNDS BY MEMBERS WHO ARE ELECTED OFFICIALS OR PUBLIC EMPLOYEES; TO PROVIDE FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF AN EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND SECRETARY TO THE COMMISSION; TO PROVIDE FOR ADVISORY COMMITTEES; TO ENCOURAGE THE COOPERATION OF STATE AGENCIES AND POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS; TO EMPOWER THE COMMISSION TO ACCEPT AND EXPEND FUNDS FROM PRIVATE AND PUBLIC SOURCES FOR THIS CELEBRATION; TO CREATE THE MISSISSIPPI SEMIQUINCENTENNIAL CELEBRATION FUND IN THE STATE TREASURY; TO REQUIRE AN ANNUAL REPORT OF THE COMMISSION TO THE GOVERNOR AND LEGISLATURE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) The Legislature finds that:
(a) Public Law 114-196 established the United States Semiquincentennial Commission and its nonprofit partner, the America250 Foundation, to collaborate with affiliates at the local, territorial, state, tribal, regional, national and international levels to educate, engage and unite Americans throughout a commemorative period beginning in 2020 to officially conclude in 2027, culminating in the celebration of the 250th Anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 2026, and of the 250th Anniversary of the founding of the United States of America;
(b) As of December 1, 2021, eighteen (18) states have established organizations to support the America250 initiative by planning and implementing programs that honor the history and culture of the United States, including special events, public art displays, museum exhibitions and educational curriculums, and the United States Semiquincentennial Commission expects the widest participation to occur through state and local projects and events; and
(c) It is altogether appropriate during this commemorative period to participate in a celebration of this magnitude and salute our state heroes, groups, artists, industries, agriculture, historic sites and other contributions to the fabric and history of our nation.
(2) There is hereby created a Mississippi USA Semiquincentennial Commission, hereinafter referred to as the "commission," to plan, promote and implement appropriate public celebrations and official events, programs and commemorations.
(3) The commission is authorized to cooperate with the United States Semiquincentennial Commission and the America250 Foundation and other national and state organizations engaged in commemoration and celebration of the semiquincentennial, and other national, regional, state and local public and private organizations with compatible purposes.
(4) The commission shall designate and coordinate events and programs with respect to the formal semiquincentennial celebration and commemoration and promote and encourage through those events, programs, digital and printed media, symposia, and educational outreach all of the following:
(a) Awareness and understanding of the principles of the Declaration of Independence, of the winning of American independence in the American Revolutionary War, and of the establishment of America's system of constitutional self-government;
(b) Teaching students and increasing public knowledge and appreciation of the breadth of American history and the centuries-long quest for "liberty and justice for all," to include sharing the stories and contributions of the various people who have populated the land, from indigenous peoples, explorers, British colonists, seekers of religious freedom, enslaved African Americans and many others who are part of America's stories;
(c) Advancing the cause of liberty and American self-government and of the meaning of "E Pluribus Unum" ("from many, one") through promoting civic knowledge and practice, including America's "Charters of Freedom" (the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights) and the constitutional features of self-government emphasizing the roles of active and engaged good citizens;
(d) Emphasizing the service and sacrifices of veterans of all generations who have secured and preserved American independence and freedom and encouraging Mississippians to honor them; and
(e) Celebratory and commemorative events and activities throughout the State of Mississippi and its eighty-two (82) counties and its two hundred ninety-nine (299) incorporated municipalities celebrating our state's arts, culture, sports, entertainment, innovation, science, entrepreneurism, parks, preservation and youth.
(5) The commission shall be composed of the following members:
(a) The Governor's First Lady, or her designee;
(b) The Lieutenant Governor, or his designee;
(c) The Speaker of the House of Representatives, or his designee;
(d) Three (3) members appointed by the Governor to serve terms concurrent with that of the Governor;
(e) Two (2) members appointed by the Lieutenant Governor to serve terms concurrent with that of the Lieutenant Governor;
(f) One (1) member appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives to serve a term concurrent with that of the Speaker;
(g) The Director of the Division of Tourism of the Mississippi Development Authority, or his designee;
(h) The Executive Director of the Mississippi Tourism Association, or her designee;
(i) The Director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, or her designee; and
(j) The Executive Director of the Mississippi Arts Commission, or his designee.
(6) Appointments shall be made within thirty (30) days after the passage of this act by the Legislature, and the First Lady shall serve as chairwoman for a term concurrent with the gubernatorial term. Within fifteen (15) days thereafter, on a day to be designated by the First Lady, the commission shall meet and organize for business by adopting internal organizational procedures necessary for the commission's efficient operation, including officers, committees and subcommittees, quorum requirements, and policies for any commission staff. Each member of the commission shall designate necessary staff of his or her respective agency, department or business entity, as the case may be, to provide administrative support to assist the commission in performing its duties and responsibilities. In the selection of its officers and the adoption of rules, resolutions and reports, an affirmative vote of a majority of the commission shall be required. All members shall be notified in writing of all meetings, such notices to be transmitted as appropriate at least five (5) days before the date on which a meeting is to be held. The commission shall meet and conduct business at least quarterly each year. Commission meetings shall be open to the public, and opportunity for public comment shall be made available.
(7) Commission members shall receive no compensation for their services. No commission member may incur per diem, travel or other expenses unless previously authorized by vote at a meeting of the commission, which action shall be recorded in the official minutes of the meeting. Legislative members of the commission shall be paid from the contingent expense funds of their respective houses in the same manner as provided for committee meetings when the Legislature is not in session; however, no per diem or expense for attending meetings of the commission will be paid while the Legislature is in session. Nonlegislative members shall be paid from any funds made available for that purpose to the commission or their respective agencies, departments or business entities.
(8) No elected public official or public employee serving on the commission shall be involved in soliciting any private funds or gifts for the commission.
(9) The First Lady, with concurrence of the commission, may designate the chief executive officer of an agency or nonprofit organization created or chartered by legislative act, or another qualified individual, to serve as the executive officer and secretary of the commission. The executive officer shall serve without additional compensation but may be reimbursed for expenses as provided for state employees. He or she shall exercise such powers delegated by the commission, including the right to apply for, receive, accept, deposit and administer pursuant to commission authorization any federal, state or local public or private funds given for express use by the commission for semiquincentennial purposes.
(10) The First Lady, with the concurrence of the commission, shall constitute one or more advisory committees to advise the commission. The committees may include such representatives as the respective executive officer, or his or her designee, of the Mississippi Department of Education, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, the Mississippi Community College Board, the Mississippi Military Department or the Mississippi Veterans Affairs Board, or representatives of presidents of Mississippi's public colleges and universities, historically black colleges and universities, community colleges, associations and organizations of city or county officials, or state historical, educational, patriotic, civic, religious, military, veterans, community improvement and other organizations.
(11) To effectuate the purposes of this section, any department, division, board, bureau, commission or agency of the state or of any political subdivision thereof shall, at the request of the chair of the commission or her designee, provide to the commission such facilities, assistance and data as will enable the committee properly to carry out its task. All departments, boards, agencies, officers and institutions of the state and of all subdivisions thereof shall cooperate with the commission in carrying out its purposes under this section. The commission shall encourage various state agencies and organizations to work cooperatively to promote the semiquincentennial.
(12) The commission is authorized and empowered to accept and expend grants and private donations from any source, including federal, state, public and private entities, and may create a supporting nonprofit organization, supervised and controlled by the commission through majority board control and representation, to accept and expend on behalf of the commission such grants and private donations, to encourage the broadest volunteer participation of public and private partners and organizations, and to assist the commission to carry out its functions. Any expenditures by the commission shall be authorized by a majority vote of the nonlegislative members of the commission.
(13) There is hereby created in the State Treasury the Mississippi Semiquincentennial Celebration Fund. Any appropriations, funds or donations received by the commission shall be deposited into this special fund. The fund shall be maintained by the State Treasurer as a special fund, separate and apart from the State General Fund. Unexpended amounts remaining in this special fund at the end of a fiscal year shall not lapse into the State General Fund, and any interest earned or investment earnings on amounts in the fund shall be deposited to the credit of the special fund. Monies in the fund shall be expended by the Department of Finance and Administration after receipt of requisitions submitted by the appropriate person designated by the commission. Monies in the special fund may be used by the commission in carrying out its responsibilities under this section.
(14) The commission shall make an annual written report and make any recommendations to the Governor and Legislature at least thirty (30) days prior to the convening of each Regular Session of the Legislature, beginning in 2024 and continuing through its final report in 2027. The commission shall consider and recommend ways for the state to commemorate the semiquincentennial through state and local legacy projects for the state at large and for counties and municipalities, as well as ways to enhance educational programs and extended learning offered by local boards of education, the Department of Education, relevant state agencies and departments, and two-year and four-year institutions of higher education, including historically black colleges and universities.
(15) This section shall stand repealed on June 30, 2027.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2023.