By Tommy Reynolds
I strongly support continued annual funding for our Local System Bridge Replacement Program (LSBP). I supported legislation that established this program and have supported annual funding for the program ever since.
Last year, the House of Representatives passed $20 million to fund the LSBP, but the House Bill that contained the money died because the Senate and House could not agree on a compromise version of the House Bill.
The LSBP is designed to provide help to counties and local governments to replace or repair county bridges not on the State Aid road system and have a bridge sufficiency rating of 50 percent or less. A bridge with only a 50 percent sufficiency rating is not suitable in the long term to safely maintain traffic for citizens.
Under the LSBP, Yalobusha County has received $2,732,595.96 to replace or repair 16 bridges with less than 50 percent sufficiency rating. According to the State Aid Road Division of MDOT, at this writing, there remains four bridges in Yalobusha County which would qualify for LSBP funding.
I am glad that this critical issue was one of the first addressed by the House of Representatives this session. Last week, the House passed HB 22, which I co-sponsored, that would provide $20 million for the LSBP Program. It has now been sent to the Senate for their consideration.
I am also glad that we were able to get a strong bipartisan vote for HB 22 with both Democrats and Republican sponsoring and strongly supporting the legislation.
Bridge replacement and repair of deficient bridges should not be a Republican or Democratic issue, but is a Mississippi issue. We have schoolchildren and others that ride upon our bridges who can be served by the LSBP Program every day. I believe it is an obligation for all of us to make sure we provide safe travel ways for our people. Local governments in low property based counties like Yalo-busha simply cannot provide the funding needed for bridge repair without drastic increases in local taxes. I am proud that the LSBP program has helped to assist counties and local governments in meeting the needs of the people we all serve.
Among bills that I do not believe the House will pass, although we can never be sure, are bills that would weaken our state retirement system, and I will not support any measures that would do so.
Similarly, bills that would interfere with constitutionally protected rights of our citizens, guaranteed to them through our Bill of Rights, will likely not see any action, and that in-cludes the Second Amend-ment to our U. S. Constitution. And, I would not support any such changes if they are brought before us.
I welcome your thoughts on these or any other issues before us in the House. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (662) 647-3203. I look forward to hearing from you.