Week 8 was, again, filled with committee meetings and hearings. By March 3, bills must be passed out of committee to remain alive and possibly become law. Even though there was a small amount of time spent in the House Chamber, bills were discussed and votes were taken. SB2257 was the most heavily discussed bill. The bill will authorize the State Auditor’s office to examine tax returns of individuals who receive federal benefits like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid. The State Auditor requested the bill to comply with a federal mandate. SB2257 passed 76-45. Another bill that was the source of much debate was HB1259. The bill would have allowed proprietary schools to submit certain debts owed to them to the Department of Revenue for collection through a setoff against the debtors’ Mississippi income tax refund. HB1259 failed by a vote of 56-61. Several bills did pass through the House relatively uncontested. HB1253 is a bill that designates the State Fire Academy as an authorized medical first responder training program. The bill passed unanimously by a vote of 121-0. HB1559 is a bill that magnifies Speaker Philip Gunn’s commitment to fighting human trafficking. The bill creates the “Victims of Human Trafficking and Commercial Exploitation Fund.” This special fund will go towards assisting specialized human trafficking and sexual exploitation shelters. The fund will be financed with assessments against traffickers and others involved in trafficking. Currently, there is only one shelter of this type in the state. The bill passed with a vote of 90-20. HB1371 is an effort to relieve the pressure on the Division of Driver Services in the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. Some of these changes would include modernizing driver’s license kiosks that would print out a renewed license. Also, updating the license renewal website would make the process more streamlined and transparent. Driver’s licenses can be issued at the end of Driver’s Education Courses by certified instructors. Commercial Driver’s licenses can be dispensed at the end of training by Community Colleges and other third party trainers who are qualified instructors. These are just a few of the changes to shorten the wait for Driver’s licenses and renewal. The vote was 117-3. Dr. Robert Ballard, a retired Navy officer who discovered the shipwreck of the RMS Titanic in 1985, visited the House of Representatives on Tuesday. Dr. Ballard announced the partnership of his organization Ocean Exploration Trust and the University of Southern Mississippi to map the sea floor of the Gulf of Mexico. He was joined at the Capitol by USM President Rodney Bennett. Thank you for the support you have given me to be your Representatives. I desire your prayers to make the best judgements to build a better Mississippi.
If you need to contact me, please call 662-231-0133 or email to email@example.com. God bless, Randy.