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Bill to protect women’s spaces,...

Bill to protect women’s spaces, define the two sexes revived in Mississippi

By: Frank Corder - May 2, 2024

Rep. Fred Shanks presents HCR 11, the ballot initiative bill, to members of the House.

  • The Safer Act passed both chambers on Thursday and now heads to Governor, after being previously killed by House conferees.

Following reports that the SAFER Act died at Monday’s deadline, lawmakers began receiving calls and messages urging them to find a way to pass the legislation this session and provide safe spaces for girls and women in Mississippi.

As previously reported by Magnolia Tribune, the author of the bill, State Senator Josh Harkins (R), said Tuesday, he and his fellow Senate conferees were ready to move forward with the legislation. However, State Rep. Joey Hood (R), chairman of the House Judiciary A Committee, did not sign off on the conference report by the 8 p.m. deadline on Monday, choosing instead to let the bill die.

On Wednesday, in a surprise move, the House offered a resolution to suspend the rules and revive the SAFER Act, giving conferees one more day to bring the bill before lawmakers for consideration.

State Rep. Fred Shanks (R), chairman of the House Rules Committee, presented the resolution on the floor. It passed the chamber by a vote of 86-33.

Shanks told Magnolia Tribune Thursday morning that he received “a lot” of messages from his constituents and others around the state on the need to pass the legislation, as did other lawmakers.

“In talking with my colleagues, I definitely think there’s support to pass it today [Thursday] and I know that the public wants it. They’ve reached out to us,” Rep. Shanks said. “I think it would pass with no issues, at least out of the House, and I think it will pass the Senate as well.”

State Senator Josh Harkins

The legislation codifies the definitions of a woman and a man in Mississippi law while providing protections for women within single-sex spaces, such as restrooms, changing facilities and public student housing.

Opponents of the measure have attempted to label it as an “anti-transgender” bill. But Republican lawmakers have repeatedly said it is commonsense legislation the state needs.

Senator Harkins welcomed the news out of the House. The Senate also passed a suspension resolution on Wednesday, allowing the measure to be brought back before members.

“The Senate passed a resolution yesterday to extend the deadline on Senate Bill 2753 and give the Legislature another opportunity to pass a bill protecting our children’s privacy and safety,” Harkins said Thursday morning. “I hope the third time’s the charm.”

Later Thursday, both chambers made good on their stated intent to pass the legislation. The Senate voted 37-12 in favor and the House voted 85-29 in favor. Both votes largely occurred on party lines, which Republicans supporting the measure and Democrats opposing it.

The bill now heads to Governor Tate Reeves desk, where he is expected to sign it into law.

About the Author(s)
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Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father. Email Frank: