By Tommy Reynolds
Tuesday, Jan. 7, marked the beginning of the 2014 legislative session, and my colleagues and I are hoping for a productive session for the citizens of Mississippi.
One important issue we will address for our rural communities is the expansion and continuation of the Rural Fire Truck Acquisition Program. This program has provided millions of dollars for the purchase of fire trucks in each of the counties in District 33. Over 10 fire trucks have been partially funded by the program for each of the counties in the District.
During this time of year, when we are in the depths of winter, too often we are greeted with news of terrible house fires suffered by our local families. The ability of our local fire departments to respond to these emergencies quickly and with adequate equipment is critical importance to every family in our area.
Fire fighting is a dangerous job. In our area, many of our firefighters bravely volunteer to help their neighbors and friends. They risk life and limb just for the satisfaction of knowing they have helped. It is our responsibility to make sure that these courageous individuals are traveling in safe and reliable trucks outfitted with dependable equipment.
The Rural Fire Truck Acquisition Program offers areas such as ours the opportunity to provide this type of fire fighting protection equipment to our counties and our firefighters. If a county qualifies to participate in a funding round authorized by the Program, the Rural Fire Truck Assistance Program will provide up to $70,000 of the purchase price of a fire truck to serve rural and small town needs of that county.
Clearly, this type of underwriting by the state gives our smaller counties and cities the chance to purchase state-of-the-art equipment for our fire fighters needs. Local insurance rates are greatly affected by the quantity of fire protection equipment available in the area.
Last year, we passed a bill that authorized an additional round of funding for the Rural Fire Truck Acquisition Program. Due to heavy participation in this program, not enough funding was appropriated to provide for the funding for every county seeking funds in this round of funding. As a result, this year I am supporting an additional appropriation bill to make sure that all counties which qualify for assistance under the Program have the ability to get funding for fire truck acquisition.
There are important issues to be decided during the session including teacher pay raises, state employee pay raises, repair and maintenance of our highways and bridges, job creation and protection and numerous other matters.
Please feel free to contact me at my home at 1720 N Main Street, my office at P.O. Drawer 280, Charleston, MS 38921, by email at email@example.com or by phone at (662) 647-3203. I look forward to hearing from you on any issue that you may have.