By Tommy Reynolds
House Bill 760, which included mandatory consolidation of the Coffeeville and Water Valley School Districts, was amended in the House Education Com-mittee to take out Yalobusha County. The bill will be restricted to two school districts in Coahoma County in its present form.
A number of other important measures also made it through the first committee deadline on February 4 and are now on their way to the House calendar. The Speaker has the prerogative to determine whether these bills will be brought up for debate.
One measure has already become law. One of the very first bills voted on by the full House during this session was House Bill 48, “The Mississippi Youth Concus-sion Law.” This bill mandates protocols for student athletes when they sustain head injuries. When Gov-ernor Phil Bryant signed this measure into law on January 30, Mississippi joined the rest of the nation in making sure that our young athletes are protected from potentially life-altering brain concussions as much as possible. I voted for this measure, which becomes effective on July 1.
Due to the snow and ice storm of last week, we watched as our fellow Mississippians were in trouble on the highways and byways of the areas south of us. There were over 600 wrecks in the south Missis-sippi, with the High-way Patrol working about 200 of them by Wednesday.
As I noted earlier in this column, the number of state troopers on the roads at any time has been severely depleted due to promotions, attrition, retirement and other reasons. The terrible driving conditions which resulted from last week’s ice and snow in South Mississippi pointed out the need for a full complement of officers to be available in times of trouble.
This is why I authored House Bill 303, which calls for an appropriation to fund a 60-student Trooper School to begin July 1. I believe that we should have the funds available for this effort, and there appears to be good support for the idea across party lines.
Also during the storm, many Mississippians were reminded of the selfless actions of first responders, many of whom were working double shifts in miserable conditions. These individuals – fire fighters, EMT’s, law enforcement officers, and others – often put themselves in harm’s way while aiding stranded and desperate citizens.
While we were fortunate that no first responders were injured or killed during these extreme circumstances, the fact remains that first responders too often die in the line of duty. Last year, we witnessed many such losses in Mississippi.
I am a co-sponsor of House Bill 1433, which provides an increase in death benefits for the families of these courageous first responders from $65,000 to $100,000. This bill has passed the first committee hurdle and is on its way to consideration by the House.
A similar measure was approved by both legislative chambers during the 2013 session, but died on a technicality in conference committee. This year, I am hopeful that we can give our first responders the confidence of knowing that their families will be provided with some financial security if the worst happens.
Please feel free to contact me at my home at 1720 N. Main Street, Water Valley, MS 38965, by email at email@example.com or by phone at (662) 473-2571. I look forward to hearing from you on any issue that you may have.