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Report To The People

House Passes Bill Introduced By Reynolds To Increase Compensation To Crime Victims

By Tommy Reynolds

Last week the House of Representatives passed HB 852 by an overwhelming margin. This Bill, which I introduced, will allow the increase by 50 percent of the amount of compensation paid to victims of crimes through the Crime Victims Compensation Fund.         

This fund was created under the Department of Finance and Administration. The Crime Victims Compensation Fund provides payments for medical care, rehabilitation, rehabilitative occupational training, and mental health counseling for victims of crime. Mental health counseling can be available for the victim’s family members. Other expenses are also covered by the fund.

The House of Representatives last week passed HB 853 which created an Early Voting Act for Mississippi. Under the Bill, which I introduced, for a two-week period prior to an election in Mississippi, voters would be allowed to cast a ballot in the Circuit Clerk’s office of the County in which they live.

The period that the early voting would begin is 20 days before an election and would stop five days prior to the election. Early votes would be final. The early voting procedure provided in HB 853 is available in a similar form to voters of Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, Texas, and most states around the nation. Mississippi is one of the few states without an early voting law.

Last year the House of Representatives passed a comprehensive early voting law which also addressed other election reforms. The measure was killed in Senate committee. It is my hope that this year further progress can be made on these issues.

The House of Representatives passed House Bill 1345 last week which would allow local governments to assist the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Children or CASA program. CASA program volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for children to make sure they do not get lost in the legal and social service system, or languish in an inappropriate group or foster home.

They stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. Last year more than 68,000 CASA volunteers served more than 240,000 abused and neglected children. HB 1345, which I introduced and which the House passed by a large margin, would allow local authorities to financially support local CASA programs in the local authorities discretion. The CASA program’s goal is to provide and promote court appointed volunteer advocacy for abused and neglected children so that they can thrive in safe, permanent homes. I am very pleased with the final House version of this legislation, which has been sent to the Senate for their consideration.

If I can be of any assistance to you please call on me. My phone number in Jackson during the session is (601) 359-3369. The phone number in my Charleston office is (662) 647-3203 and my home number is (662)473-2571. I can also be contacted in writing at my office address P. O. Drawer 280, Charleston, Mississippi 38921

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