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State Representatives

House: Bill requires retraining of board members in  low performing districts

By Reps. Joe C. Gardner and Clara H. Burnett

School board members in underperforming districts may be required to attend additional training if legislation proposed by State Schools Supt. Dr. Hank Bounds is enacted.

The training requirement was part of the Quality Education Act of 2008 Bounds gave the House Education Committee an overview of last week. The legislation represents the State Board of Education’s major priorities.

Other proposals in the act include: full MAEP funding ($2.5 million more than current year); require State Board to adopt rules  for at-risk funds;  $20 million for the Early Learning Collaborative Act of 2007; $18.3 million for second phase of High School Redesign; restoration of Public School Building Funds; restoration of teacher supply funds; a 3% increase in the base salary for teachers and raise the annual increment from 25 years to 30 years; phase in the appointment of school superintendents; decrease the bond passage rate in districts from 60% to 55%; and creation of a task force on underperforming schools and districts.

The full House unanimously passed two money packages that will help some of the state’s neediest citizens. HB 145 will provide funds to continue the emergency transportation financing for a large group of Medicaid patients for kidney dialysis treatments. And HB 159 will provide funds to continue operations at seven mental health facilities around the state threatened with shutdown.

By the end of this third week, dozens of bills had been introduced by our members. Many of these proposals are being seen for the first time, while others have been introduced in past sessions without success. Bills often face scrutiny of several sessions before finally gaining passage.

Examples of some of the bills listed in our bill introduction sheets include:

 • HB 4 to upgrade educational programs required for pre-licensing and continuing education of insurance agents.

• HB 8 to prohibit the use of a cellular phone unless it’s hands-free while operating a vehicle.

• HB 9 to study the feasibility of requiring safety belts on public school buses.

• HB 11 to increase to 88,000 pounds the maximum gross weight for vehicles on state roads.

• HB 22 increasing the excise tax on cigarettes.

• HB 25 requiring teacher education courses to include instruction on the teaching of phonics.

• HB 31 requiring a pilot program on banning smoking at state correctional facilities.

• HB 32 providing that anyone convicted twice or more for the sale or distribution of illegal drugs not be allowed to serve the sentence within 100 miles of where the felony was committed.

• HB 53 creating a tuition waiver program for spouses of active duty Guard personnel.

• HB 54 to prohibit the opening of a public school term before Labor Day.

• HB 69 to require a minimum number of women’s restrooms and diaper areas in state buildings.

• HB 80 to exempt from sales taxes hearing aids and prescription eyeglasses.

•HB 97 requiring headlights to be on when conditions necessitate the use of windshield wipers.

• HB 118 requiring an ID card at the polls for voters born before 1942.

• HB 132 requiring the state to include civil rights education in the schools’ curriculum.

• HB 156-157 to prohibit smoking in all family restaurants and public places in the state.

• HCR 6 proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constituting clarifying marriage as man-woman.

Call us at the Capitol at 601-359-3770, or follow us on the web at www.ls.state.ms.us.