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Legislative Wrap up for the week of Feb. 13, 2017

JACKSON- It was a seemingly quiet week at the Capitol with only a few major bills causing a stir among lawmakers. 

In the House: 

General bills are finally off the agenda and Representatives began working hard on House Appropriations Bills. These bills determine how much money is given to different state organizations.

They began looking at preliminary budgets of 54 state agencies including the departments of transportation, public health, Medicaid, education and public safety.

House Bill 1511 which appropriates money for the Department of Public Health would give the department $4.2 million less than their budget currently holds. Several representatives voiced their concern that this low amount would not allow the department to meet it’s current needs.

Individuals that put the bill together say the new budget proposal will reflect the changing role of the health department.

While public health took a cut the Department of Education received $20 million more in general funds for the School Recognition Program. It is an incentive program that provides financial rewards for teachers and staff in high performing schools. House Bill 1502 did not include the revamping of the education funding formula and what to do with EdBuilds suggestions.

Approaching next week is another deadline for appropriations and revenue bills, after that the House will take a look at the bills that passed through the Senate.

In the Senate: 

The senate began referring bills to the House as well as other subcommittees for amendments and readjusting. One of those included House Bill 511 that would penalize drivers using the left lane on the highway improperly, i.e. going to slow, not passing etc. It was referred to Senate Committee Highways and Transportation as well as Senate Judiciary B.

Sen. Angela Cockerham’s bill to create “The Sexual Prevention in Universities and Community and Junior Colleges Act,” was also referred to committee for some tweaking. That will be taken up in Jud. A.

One bill that did bring quite a bit of controversy on the floor was Senate Bill 2567 which is the Mississippi Health Agency Reorganization Act of 2017. The most controversial point in this bill was it’s naming the governor in charge of naming the head of the Department of Mental Health. It originally passed the Senate by one vote, but held on a motion to reconsider. When brought back up it was voted down 27-24 and died on the calendar.

Check back here for next weeks wrap up on the House and Senate for the 2017 Legislative Session.

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