Friday, March 30, 2007
2007 Legislative Session At-a-Glance
> Fully funded the Mississippi Adequate Education Program for the 2007-08 school term, and awarded teachers a 3-percent across-the-board pay raise and set the minimum pay for teacher assistants at $12,500 per year. $190 million more than for the current year.
> Provided state universities with $85 million additional funding and community colleges with $35 million more for the next fiscal year. Enhanced salaries at both.
> Provided state employees with a pay increase of at least $1,500. State troopers awarded $2,500 pay increase and budgeted for new "trooper school." Nursing professors to draw $6,000 pay raise to help ease nursing shortage.
> SB 3215 Passed $300 million incentives package to bring Toyota to Northeast Mississippi where it will operate a manufacturing plant with 2,000-plus jobs.
> SB 2764 reorganizes the State Board of Health. The new Board of Health will consist of 11 members and five of these members must be currently licensed physicians with at least seven years of experience. The other six members of the new Board must be persons with a background in Public Health who are not currently licensed physicians. The Office of Tobacco Control is created with an appropriation of $20 million annually from the tobacco settlement installment payments. Its duties will include tobacco education, prevention and cessation.
> HB 1500 bolsters the state's "Wind Pool" insurance association, providing a stable market for both insurance consumers and companies to continue operations on the Mississippi Coast. We put $20 million annually into the fund for the next four years from the taxes on insurance premiums.
> HB 753 defines the exemptions to building codes for hunting and fishing camps. Also, members of the Building Codes Council must be Mississippi residents; counties and cities adopting or amending codes may adopt those established by the Council; and creates a hurricane damage mitigation program that could offer grants to encourage single-family, site-built, owner-occupied, residential property owners or commercial property owners to retrofit their properties to make them less vulnerable to hurricane damage. Green lumber cannot be sold under the bill.
> HB 1142 enhances a state tourism sales tax incentives program, with the incentives being based on the amount of investment of qualified projects.
> SB 2825 prohibits registered sexual offenders being present within 500 feet of a school building. When such permission is granted, the offender must make known at all times his or her whereabouts.
> HB 1015 will strengthen the registration of sexual offenders with an improved Internet website that permits the public to obtain relevant information for each offender by a single query for any given zip code or geographic radius set by the user, such as a municipality or county. The Department of Public Safety shall participate in the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Web site. The act also conforms the state law to the federal Adam Walsh Act.
> HB 247 to raise the tax on cigarettes and to reduce the sales tax on groceries died in a Senate committee, despite repeated outcries by the public and media to enact. House of Representatives easily passed tax measures.
> SB 2391 will ban most abortions in Mississippi if the federal Roe v. Wade law allowing abortions is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
> Several bills encouraged the construction of a burn treatment facility at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Currently, burn victims must go outside the state for treatment. Funding was not provided, however.
> SB 2997 strengthens state's rebate incentives for the movie industry to help bring filmmakers to the state. Each project is capped at $5 million of state funds.
> HB 351 authorizes the construction of toll roads by state or private entities, but only in places where an alternate un-tolled route exists. Also, toll goes away with the road's debt and the road can be used for emergencies with no toll to be charged.
> SB 2863 creates a task force to study the state's trauma care health system.
> HB 528 makes technical changes to the Medicaid program, including enhancement of fees for dentists treating Medicaid patients. The bill also directs PEER to study the non-emergency transport system of Medicaid patients. It also contains a morbid obesity study and enhances the at-home based services, the so-called "money follows the person" doctrine. Total Medicaid budget of $3.995 billion, of which only $515 million is state general funds.
> SB 2369 directs schools to provide 150 minutes of physical education for students each week, along with 45 minutes of health education. The state agency is to create an advisory council to help enact rules for healthy lifestyles.
> HB 898 enhances penalties against employers who willfully refuse to withhold child support payments from an employee.
> SB 2454 requires completion of the state's alcohol safety program before the reinstatement of a driver's license that was suspended for a DUI offense.
> HB 423 allows the State Wildlife Commission to choose areas of the state for a study of deer hunting over grain.
> HB 1271 providing for enhanced penalties for taking the property of vulnerable adults.
> SB 2688 increases the death benefit from $40,000 to $65,000 for fallen law enforcement officers and firefighters in Mississippi.
> HB 475 establishes a scholarship program to encourage family protection workers employed by the Department of Human Services to obtain the college education necessary to become licensed as a social worker, master social worker or certified social worker and become a family protection specialist.
> HB 1465 creates the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program for the purpose of recruiting students from rural areas of the state for medical or osteopathic school. The program will consist of three phases, including: Undergraduate premedical education; Medical or osteopathic school and residency; and Post-residency entry into practice in a rural or underserved area.
> HB 617 authorizes the state Adjutant General to pay the tuition, room and board for any active member of the Mississippi National Guard who is enrolled or may enroll in an accredited institution of higher learning, vocational education school or junior college. To be eligible for the room and board grant, an individual must also be in an officer program and be selected by the Adjutant General.
> SB 2117 protects a professional license issued to any member of the Mississippi National Guard or the United States Armed Forces Reserves from expiration while serving on federal active duty and will be extended for up to exceed 90 days after his or her return from federal active duty.
> SB 3199 provides bonds to finance a loan program for dairy farmers to help offset fuel transportation costs, in an effort to save the state's dairy industry.
> HB 1390 changes the Small Enterprise Development Finance Program so more small-to-mid-sized businesses can qualify for low-interest loans of between $350,000 and $4 million to finance the construction and renovation of buildings or the purchase of new equipment.
> Approved major bonding bill for improvements to state agency, university and community college facilities. Provided $20 million funding for continuing local bridge replacement program.
—House Information Office
> HB 247 to raise the tax on cigarettes and to reduce the sales tax on groceries died in a Senate committee, despite repeated outcries by the public and media to enact. House of Representatives easily passed tax measures. > Several bills encouraged the construction of a burn treatment facility at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Currently, burn victims must go outside the state for treatment. Funding was not provided, however. What do you think it will take to get these to pass in the future?
A change in the leadership of the Senate and at the Governor's mansion, quite simply. I blame the Governor for the demise of the tobacco/grocery tax swap and Sens. Nunnlee and Gordon for the demise of the Burn Center.
- Rep. Erik Fleming
Mr Fleming: WIth all due respect, because I do respect that you come on these forums and engage the voters, unlike alot of politicians who can't be bothered by their subjects ;-) , I didn't see alot of you supporters pushing the tax swap raising hell when Fordice, yes Fordice, vetoed the original one cent tax increase on groceries. In fact, he was crucified for the tax hike and your friends in the legislature overrode his veto WITH the CL's declared support. Irony.
Don't we have a facility in Greenville that everyone used to go to? What happened to it, outside of being defunded.
Don't we have a facility in Greenville that everyone used to go to? What happened to it, outside of being defunded. It's shut down. Burn victims have to be flown out of state for treatment now.
Kingfish: You are correct in your historical analysis. I did not have the privilege of being a member of the Legislature at that time, but I probably would have sided with Rep. Flaggs and not supported the override, and would have caught hell from the speaker for that vote. L.W. is correct, citizens of this state have to be transported out of state for severe burn treatment. The hospital in Greenville shut down the burn center after funds were mismanaged and their board of directors felt they could use the space to expand the hospital's services.
- Rep. Erik Fleming