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Report to the People

House Adopts Bills That Could Help Address Road And Bridge Needs

The House of Representatives convened on Tuesday, January 2, to begin the 2018 Session. I am pleased to report that the House has already adopted two bills that could address a small portion of the needs for road and bridge repair and maintenance across the state. You may recall that the House passed numerous opportunities for funding much-needed road and bridge repair last year, but they died in the Senate. We are hoping for a better outcome during this session.

This week, we had the opportunity to vote on two measures that were designed to help improve our struggling transportation infrastructure.

House Bill 354 provides that 50 percent of state revenue that is two percent above the previous year’s intake will be deposited in a special account for road and bridge repair.  Although the circumstances that would trigger this action seems unlikely to happen any time soon, the House voted to at least put the opportunity in place with a 119-1 vote to pass it. I supported this effort.

House Bill 357 authorizes bonds to be issued to help municipalities and counties with bridge repair. For those Mississippians who have been affected by one of the hundreds of bridge closings in the state, this idea is certainly something that should be welcomed. We approved this measure by a vote of 117-3. This is something the House attempted last year as well.

A third measure, House Bill 359, stated that there would be no more road construction that wasn’t already underway and for which all of the rights-of-way had been obtained. It was difficult for some of us to understand the rationale behind this measure. If anything, we don’t need a moratorium on road construction in this state. I voted against this measure along with 41 of my colleagues. It passed along partisan lines.

Whether these bills survive Senate scrutiny is yet to be seen. I believe, however, that the urgency of need for road and bridge construction and maintenance in Mississippi should create a more welcoming atmosphere for worthy items in the Senate.

There is also an effort underway to remove Department of Transportation employees from the protections of the State Personnel Board. I wholeheartedly disagree with this idea, and will vote against it. There is a reason that state employees are under the State Personnel Board. Politics should simply not be injected into the inner workings of our state government employees. These employees should be allowed to do their jobs without the political threat of firing or demotion. This idea of taking such protections away is a recipe for patronage and rank political favoritism, in my opinion. I do not believe that state government functions well under those circumstances.

Please call on me if I can be of any assistance. My email address is and my mailing address is 1720 North Main St., Water Valley, MS, 38965. My office number is 662-647-3203.

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