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Miss. House of Representatives

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

House fully funds Ed, weighs bills from curbstoning to auto inspection repeal

Members of the House of Representatives gave overwhelming support to full financial backing of the state’s K-12 public education system with a strong vote during the fourth week of the 2008 session.

The House passed HB 513 to fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, including a 3 percent across-the-board for the state’s 30,000 school teachers, and a smaller amount for teacher aides. It also provides additional incremental raises for teachers beyond 26 years of service, and put extra funds into such programs as early childhood development, training for teachers to recognize dyslexia problems, mentoring for new teachers, classroom supplies and a school building fund, among others.

Our Ways and Means Committee heard its annual report from officials who oversee the state’s buildings where the agencies that serve the public are housed. State government owns 67.6 million square feet of space and leases another 3.1 million square feet.

In the Public Health and Welfare Committee, a report from the Caring for the Mississippi Individuals with Autism Task Force recommended our universities review the best practices used in other states to train graduates to work with the autism population.

 The House’s two judiciary-related committees met together to hear State Attorney General Jim Hood outline his 2008 legislative agenda. Hood said the office is seeking to tighten restrictions on such websites as MySpace, Facebook and Bevo and wants youth to understand that it is illegal to download much of the music on the Internet.

The House Medicaid Committee has had several serious discussions about the budget for that vital health-care program, including alternatives to the face-to-face recertification process currently in place. Medicaid serves more than 600,000 Mississippians and represents the state’s largest budget.

Dozens of bills have been introduced by our members. Examples of some bills that soon to be are as follows:

• HB 166 to eliminate the death penalty for individuals under 18 years of age.

• HB 176 creating the offense of curbstoning (selling more than five vehicles within a 12-months period without a license).

• HB 186 to approve construction of a new acute-care hospital in Olive Branch (DeSoto County).

• HB 192 to not allow plea-bargaining for persons sentenced as habitual criminals.

• HB 200 to require municipalities to deliver certain services to an annexed area before levying and collecting property taxes in those areas.

• HB 208 allowing workers’ comp appeals directly to the State Court of Appeals.

• HB 212 to allow for a “tax free holiday” in late July for sales of certain clothing items.

• HB 213 to issue distinctive vehicle tags to mothers of sons or daughters who die in the service.

• HB 216 to create a state A.G.’s division to investigate and prosecute civil rights violations.

• HB 323 to provide a $100 fine for minors purchasing or possessing tobacco products.

• HB 335 to mandate uninsured coverage to be included in all liability insurance policies.

• HB 340 to prohibit hunting or shooting across levees.

• HB 343 to repeal the laws requiring annual safety inspection of vehicles.

• HB 352 requiring verification of lawful presence in the U.S. of anyone seeking public benefits.

•HB 362 to increase to at least $600 the fine for a second offense of indecent exposure.

•The next major deadline facing the Legislature is Feb. 19 for our committees to report their action on general bills and constitutional amendments that have been introduced by the members.

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