By Tommy Reynolds
Our state is home to many thousands of timber producers. Timber products are an extremely important part of Mississippi’s economy.
Today, most of us are aware of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating tool for construction. This is a measure that assures consumers that a structure has been built to the highest eco-friendly standards. In Mississippi, this rating previously did not recognize timber products that had been certified through the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Forest Stewardship Council or the American Tree Farm System. Any or all of these designations may apply to Mississippi timber products and are evidence of best practices in timber production.
Our Mississippi timber growers deserve to participate in green construction and were inhibited because of what I believed to be an arbitrary designation restriction. That is why we joined with other states to make Mississippi certified timber products eligible for green construction certification on state-owned properties.
I was proud to sponsor House Bill 488 which amends Mississippi’s sustainable state building construction statute to include certifications by the previously omitted groups. This measure passed the House unanimously and the Senate, overwhelmingly. The Governor signed it into law on March 26, and it goes into effect July 1.
We all believe that this measure provides an incentive for our local construction industry to use Missis-sippi timber products for constructing our state-owned buildings, while adhering to energy conservation and safe environmental standards.
One of the most sound methods of economic development is the value-added model, which means that a product is produced, pro-cessed and purchased all within the same economic system. HB 488 helps provide a value-added economic development tool for our local economies through our timber producers. They grow the timber here, process it here and, now, it will be purchased here for construction of our state-owned buildings – which we hope will be built by Mississippians.
Mississippi citizens will reap the benefit of this cycle through private employment and profit as well as the knowledge that taxpayer-funded buildings are constructed to the highest standards of environmental ex-cellence and sustainability.
In other legislative matters, I co-sponsored House Bill 102 which authorizes the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks to designate areas or special seasons within wildlife management areas and wildlife refuges to provide hunting, fishing and other recreational activities for “wounded warriors” and to allow a person to assist an eligible veteran or service member in those activities. This measure was also overwhelmingly supported by both chambers. Our wounded veterans should be provided every opportunity to enjoy the fullness of life. In Mississippi, that often means a hunting trip.
I am proud that we have authorized the creation of hunting and fishing areas that will accommodate our wounded warriors’ needs. This measure has been signed by the Governor and goes into effect July 1st.
I am optimistic that two bills I co-sponsored and strongly supported will also make it through the conference process and to the Governor’s desk. House Bill 269 provides for an increased death benefit to our first responders. House Bill 307 will provide scholarships for physicians who agree to practice in our rural areas. These measures are aimed at helping people who have dedicated their lives to helping others, and I am proud we could help them in these ways.
Please contact me on these or any other issues at 15 CR 429, Water Valley, MS 38965 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.. I can also be reached by telephone at (662) 473-2571. I look forward to hearing from you.