State senate considers wide array of bills
Many bills died last week in the Mississippi Senate as we passed the first major committee deadline.
Among those bills, of local interest, SB 2025 would have changed residency requirements of Circuit Court judges in the Third Circuit District. Currently, one of the three judges must reside in Benton, Marshall or Tippah County, one must reside in Calhoun, Chickasaw, Lafayette or Union County and one may reside anywhere in the seven-county district. SB 2025 would have allowed all three judges to reside anywhere in the district. We have successfully fought similar measures in the past to protect the distribution of judges around the district.
In floor action, the Senate passed SB 2724 which would require all passengers under 18 years old to wear seat belts. Current law only requires seat belts on front seat passengers. With the help of the chairman, Senator Willie Simmons (D-Cleveland) and support of Lt. Governor Tate Reeves, we amended the bill to call the act “Harlie’s Law” in memory of Harlie Oswalt, a Potts Camp High School student who was a back seat passenger that died as a result of a crash last year.
We also approved SB 2398 to raise the qualifications for school superintendents in an effort to get better candidates in office. It would require any candidate for superintendent, elected or appointed, to have at least six years experience with at least three of those being in administration. Superintendents are responsible for overseeing multi-million dollar budgets and are charged with assuring student achievement and the success of the district.
SB 2645 would impose a moratorium on the purchase of state vehicles, a money- saving measure. Previous moratoriums have saved about $9 million a year.
SB 2564 would name a state building for late state Senator and U.S. Representative Alan Nunnelee, who served in the Senate from 1995 until 2011 and then in Washington from 2011 until his death in February 2015.
SB 2828 – the EMS Personnel Licensure Interstate Compact – would recognize professional qualifications and certifications of these workers and bring Mississippi into the state-to-state agreement already in existence.
SB 2520 would allow parents the right to have copies of redacted records from Youth Court.
SB 2572 would abolish inactive boards and agencies.
SB 2544 would create an Active Duty Emergency Operation Fund for the Mississippi National Guard, from which they use funds for quick activation in case of storms, tornadoes and such. It is a one-time transfer and would be reimbursed with federal funds.
SB 2448 would allow all political subdivisions to join regional economic development alliances.
SB 2275 would allow annual reports of all state agencies to be posted on the Department of Finance and Administration website for public review.
SB 2463 requires school district consolidation in Chickasaw County and SB 2461 requires the same in Perry County. The passage of SB 2707 makes it easier for college students who are away from their home county to vote by allowing them to have absentee ballots witnessed in the Registrars’ office as opposed to having them notarized, which could cost a fee.
SB 2161 would increase the fees constables receive for their work.
SB 2842 would establish a mental health intervention program in the state to be funded with federal money.
We have also enjoyed having visitors from around the state again this week. Marshall and Tate counties were well represented at the Mississippi Economic Development Council Conference and the Leadership Mississippi Class of 2017.
All Senate Floor sessions are streamed live online on the legislative website: www.legislature.ms.gov. I can be reached at the Capitol while in session at (601) 359-3221, by cell phone at (662) 224-4126, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/senatorbillstone or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Senate mailing address is P.O. Box 1018, Jackson, MS 39215.