Opinion – 3/7/2006

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 7, 2006

The Panolian: OPINIONS – Rep. Morris & Rep. Burnett

 From the 3/7/06 issue of The Panolian       

Numerous ‘big issues’ pending in Mississippi House of Representatives

The 2006 legislative session is two-thirds complete. House and Senate committees have passed judgment on general bills and constitutional amendments that originated in the opposite chamber.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

This was week nine of the 13-week session. Sine die adjournment is April 2.

Tuesday, Feb. 28 was the deadline for committees of the House of Representatives to either approve or reject the bills that came from the Senate. The next major deadline is March 8 for floor action by the full House on these same bills. Senate committees, meanwhile, are studying House bills.

Following floor work on general bills and proposed constitutional amendments, we will then turn heavy attention to the state budget for FY 2007 beginning July 1.

Numerous "big issues" are pending, the most notable being the proposed reduction on sales taxes for groceries and a corresponding hike in cigarette taxes. The House’s work on this issue was done until the Senate decided whether or not to accept House changes to their bill (SB 3084) that increases the cigarette excise tax to $1 per pack and cuts the grocery sales tax in half. Late in the week, the Senate invited conference negotiation on the House changes and work will begin soon to see if the differences can be resolved. The Senate also has not yet acted on the governor’s veto of SB 2310 passed earlier.

HERE IS A SAMPLING OF SENATE BILLS that made it through House committees and were presented, or will be presented, to the full House for approval or rejection by March 8.

SB 2922 banning abortions in Mississippi except in cases where the mother’s life is endangered due to the pregnancy. We have a 1948 law that bans abortions, but several abortion clinics have operated in the state, including a presently open clinic in Jackson. As amended on the House floor, rape and incest exceptions were added to the bill, but in the case of rape a formal charge must be filed by a law enforcement agency and in the case of incest an affidavit must be on file.
     Also, an amendment was added that says the Legislature’s intent is for the state to be responsible for the medical and educational needs of any child if the mother has received family counseling services while pregnant. The child could receive these services until age 19.
SB 2469 reaffirming the state community college system as the lead agency for workforce training in the state.
SB 2689 increasing to 10 years the time a state employee hired after July 1 of this year must contribute to the State Retirement System before being vested and, thus, eligible for retirement benefits. Currently, a state worker is vested after four years of service. This is a move to shore up the retirement system, which has been hurt by large numbers of retirees and investment losses.
SB 2667 creating a criminal offense of sexual battery against a vulnerable adult. We also passed SB 2389 tripling the damages available in a civil suit against those who use a position of trust to convert a vulnerable adult’s property to his or her own use through fraud or false pretenses.
SB 2718 allowing the State Board of Education to make civil rights and human rights education a part of the K-12 instruction curriculum. The Mississippi Civil Rights Education Commission would be created under the act to assist in the formation of the curriculum to be studied.
SB 2472 to allow military personnel’s professional licenses to remain in effect while serving on federal activity duty.
SB 2843 increasing unemployment benefits. The Senate proposed an increase of only $5 per week, while the House had proposed a hike of $20 over two years. Negotiation will ensue on the issue.
SB 2454 allowing the sale of native-made wine at the site of the winery.
SB 2832 reaffirming a mayor’s authority as being "executive" in nature with superintending control over the officers and affairs of a municipality. It clarifies a board of aldermen or city council as "legislative" and all their actions must be executed by a vote within a legally called board meeting.
SB 2291 increasing from six to 12 the number of days county election commissioners can be trained per year, and increasing their per diem from $72 to $84.
SB 2819 to create the felony offense of selling fake controlled substances and a misdemeanor if it is a nonprescription drug. The felony offense could bring a 5-year prison sentence and/or a $5,000 fine.
To follow the Legislature on the Internet, go to: . To contact a member of the Legislature at the Capitol, call 1-601-359-3770.



Burnett represents District 9 which includes portions of Panola, Quitman, Tate and Tunica Counties.
Morris represents Mississippi’s House District 11 which includes portions of Panola and Tate Counties.


Copyright 2005-2006 by The Panolian, Inc..  All rights reserved
Copyright 2001-2004 by Batesville Newspapers, LLC.  All rights reserved
Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission  is prohibited.