Last Tuesday was committee deadline for the Legislature, and the House was left with 333 measures to debate and vote on, out of the over 1,000 filed. Since that time, we’ve been working hard, debating important measures to send to the Senate for their deliberation on the issues.
Many of you know that the House had a prolonged debate last week on House Bill 504, the teacher pay raise bill. Many of us had strong objections to this bill. We wanted a meaningful across-the-board pay raise and objected to the idea of attaching benchmarks to the raises. I received many messages from teachers in our area who felt insulted and disappointed in this measure. I voted for several of the amendments that were offered to help improve the bill. In the end, I voted for the bill which contained only one change from the original. I voted yes because the overwhelming majority of teachers contacting me wanted me to vote for it, if it was the only chance for a pay raise this year. It has now gone to the Senate for deliberation. It is important to note that this bill could be drastically changed before it becomes law.
I am pleased to report that three bills I authored are still alive at this writing and ready for floor action.
House Bill 810, or the “Andrew Lloyd Law,” requires that the Department of Human Services be made aware if an individual with a diagnosed, severe mental illness has been committed to a mental health facility, if there are minor children in residence in the individual’s home. I won’t revisit the tragedy that sparked this measure. All of us were heartbroken that little Andrew Lloyd’s life was taken, and I believe that the circumstances addressed by this law played a terrible role in his death. The goal of this measure is simply to protect children from danger, and does not condone any kind of discriminatory action toward individuals who suffer from mental illness. I hope that we are successful in this effort. It is a simple, common sense step to take to protect innocent children.
House Bill 1226 provides that counties with population more than 40,000 and less than 70,000 are allowed to elect three justice court judges. Alcorn County has grown and now has a population of 35,000. Current law mandates that counties with a population between 35,000 and 70,000 have three justice court judges. My bill simply moves the threshold to 40,000 and Alcorn County would keep two justice court judges. Under the Mississippi Constitution, for every justice court judge there also must be a constable. Therefore, Alcorn County would be burdened with paying for an additional judge and constable. Consequently, if my bill becomes law, Alcorn County will save an estimated $100,000.00 per year of taxpayers’ money.
House Bill 974 passed the House on Tuesday morning, February 11, and provides that the schools may allow students to be transported by private transportation to specified agricultural events. This particular bill is drafted with the Future Farmers of America in mind. Anyone who has ever been in the FFA knows that many miles are traveled for trainings, speaking and judging contests. Previously, students were transported by school bus, at quite an expense per student. This bill recognizes that teachers and other adults, if they are following prescribed regulations, should be allowed to transport these students in private vehicles. The measure addresses every possible aspect of private travel, including prescribing seating arrangements and safety measures. Again, this is a common sense measure whose time has come, I believe.
I was proud to show a bull at the Dixie National Legislative Showcase with Marlee Turner. Caleb Kitchens served as a page in the House. These young people are tremendous ambassadors for us, and I commend their parents and teachers for helping mold them into the fine young citizens that they are.
I have been greatly encouraged and excited about the amount of civic engagement I’ve witnessed during this legislative session. When citizens become engaged like this – via social media, texts, phone calls, emails, and personal visits – we in the Legislature can do a better job for all Mississippians. Please keep up the momentum.
I look forward to hearing from you. Please call me at 662-287-1620, email firstname.lastname@example.org, message me on FaceBook at Nicholas Ryan Bain or follow me on Twitter @StaterepBain2.