of Representatives report
By REPS. KELVIN
TOMMY WOODS and JACK GADD
Our committees in the House of
Representatives this week continued to study the hundreds of bills that
have been introduced by members for consideration this session. The
committees were working against a Tuesday, Jan. 30 deadline to approve
or reject these proposed measures.
Once the committees finish this important
task, we will be debating the bills on the floor of the House. Actually,
we’ve already begun that process, too, as we look toward a Feb.
21 deadline for floor action on the bills originating in the House.
The Senate faces the same deadline for their bills.
We spent almost two hours on the floor
Monday of this week, with about half of that on HB 732, known as the
Mississippi Healthy Students Act. It is designed to educate our K-12
students about obesity and the many diseases such as diabetes that can
be traced to poor eating habits and a lack of exercise.
The bill would require periods of physical
conditioning for students depending upon which grade they are in. It
also would require the measuring of each student’s body mass index
with that information provided to parents along with an explanation
of what it means. School districts would be required to learn how to
develop meals that are more nutritional, and restrictions would be placed
on the sale of certain non-healthy food and beverage items on school
campuses. The frying of foods would be eliminated under the new guidelines
and in time districts would not be allowed to purchase deep-fryers.
The proposed guidelines are the result
of hearings held this past summer by a subcommittee from the House Education
Committee, held in concert with State Department of Education officials.
Mississippi has been criticized nationally for its high obesity rate,
helping to spur the healthy movement.
Also on the House Floor this week we
HB 882 increasing the penalty for the possession of firearms
by convicted felons. The bill pushes the penalty from one to 10
years of jail. Current law has it at from one to five years.
HB 642 allowing the expunction of non-violent crimes by first-time
offenders two years after sentencing if the offender has met all
the conditions. Some crimes cannot be expunged -- including those
committed against persons of any age, but particularly against
children, and those for selling drugs.
HB 567 establishing a treatment center for burn victims at the
University of Mississippi Medical Center. Mississippi no longer
has a burn treatment facility after the previous one closed two
years ago in Greenville. Last year, a similar House bill died
in the Senate. It would require $10 million to construct at UMMC
and about $5 million annually thereafter to operate. Mississippi’s
per-capita rate of severe burns is one of the highest in the nation,
and presently victims must go out of state for treatment.
HB 400 requiring “ultimate” reporting of political
campaign contributions. A key feature is that most of the money
donated by political action committees to a candidate must be
reported to the state.
HB 727 prohibiting judges from sentencing youthful offenders
to life in prison without the possibility of parole if other alternatives
are available. It also says police cannot interview a teenager
suspected of a crime without parents, a guardian or an attorney
present, or that confessions of someone under 17 cannot be used
in court unless there is an agreement with parents, guardian or
SB 2494 to make an extra appropriation of $1.7 million to the
State Veterans Board for use at the veterans’ nursing homes
around the state. At least one suffered heavy damages during Katrina.
Some of the bills we passed in committee and that will soon
go to the House floor include:
HB 1488 creating a Cultural Heritage Development Fund to establish
markers on the Mississippi Blues Trail, designed to bring more
awareness to the area where blues music was born. The bill directs
the state to ask Congress to designate the Delta as the “Delta
National Heritage Area” to help spur development in the
region. It also gives more impetus to the state’s promotion
HB 581 regulating public swimming facilities as to certain sanitation
standards, their water supply, safety equipment and other issues.
The act would enact a permit system. Private pools are exempt.
HB 202 creating the criminal offense of attempted murder. Currently,
that offense falls under the state’s aggravated assault
HB 982 strengthening the penalties for committing crimes against
HB 1084 to require school districts to include graduation and
dropout rates when they are submitting information concerning
accountability standards. Lowering the state’s dropout rate
has become a prime focus of attempts to improve the state’s
HB 1463 providing for the recall of superintendents and school
board members in districts that are under conservatorship by the
State Department of Education.
HB 1303 allowing for the return of a weapon after charges have
been dropped against an adult.
HB 167 removing the waiting period, blood tests and age requirement
for getting married.
HB 641 authorizing gamingrelated courses at universities and
two-year colleges in the state.
HB 243 creating a pilot program in some counties for hunting
deer over grain.
HB 1076 exempting military personnel on leave from active overseas
duty from game licenses.
During the fourth week of the session,
the House also honored a large group of locally elected African-American
public officials who were visiting the Capitol to meet with their representatives.
Mississippi has more African-American public officials than any other
state. Among the honorees this week was Mayor Sheriel Walker-Perkins,
the first African American and first female mayor of Greenwood and the
wife of State Rep. Willie Perkins of Greenwood.
We also designated a highway rest stop
near Wiggins as the “Dizzy Dean Rest Stop” in honor of the
late baseball pitcher and famed broadcaster who lived near that town.
A rally during the week promoted raising
taxes on cigarettes as a way to improve the health of the state’s
citizens. Last year a bill to raise tobacco taxes and lower grocery
taxes was vetoed by the governor.
To contact a legislator at the State
Capitol, please call 1-601-359-3770. To follow the Legislature on the
Internet, go to www.ls.state.ms.us.
News: (662) 252-4261 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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