2014 wraps up with some surprises - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

2014 Legislative Session wraps up with some surprises

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The legislature checked off its to-do list ahead of schedule. But some of the latest changes even surprised some lawmakers.

Less than 24 hours after lawmakers left for the year, Governor Bryant signed off on one of the most talked about pieces of legislation this session.

A group rallied in a last ditch effort to stop Senate Bill 2681 or the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.

"We're here and we oppose it and we're Mississippians," explained Equality Mississippi's Jocelyn Pritchett.

The Governor's release says Mississippi now joins 18 other states to defend religious freedoms on a state level. Supporters say it also mirrors a federal law. The folks with the rally group don't buy into it.

"It still promotes discrimination in Mississippi and Mississippi cannot afford to be viewed as discriminatory," said Pritchett. "We have an incredible history of it. And it's just bad for our state."

Some of the language that was originally compared to Arizona's legislation was changed before passage. The law will also allow the state seal to be changed with the addition of "In God We Trust".

Before the House left, they had some surprising moves Wednesday.

The bill that would have given vouchers to parents of special needs children didn't have the votes supporters expected.

"Some logic I can't understand," said Representative John Moore, chairman of the House education committee. "The entire purpose of that bill was to give parents of those children that are begging for help an option if their district is not providing the type of services that they need."

The final act was a flip of what lawmakers thought would be a done deal on a statewide texting ban.

"It was a good idea I thought," said Representative Alyce Clarke. "But in a flash, it was gone."

The bill was held on a motion to reconsider. But since they were about to leave, it essentially killed the bill.

Some of the other things lawmakers passed this year include the "Right on Crime" bill that deals with criminal justice and corrections reforms, money for a new trooper school and teacher pay raises.

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