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Report to the People

The House voted on a number of important measures last week during our first period of major floor debate on bills that passed the committee deadline on Tuesday.

We passed the School Safety Act, House Bill 1283, to help make sure our students and public school teachers and staff would be prepared in case of an active shooter situation. The measure requires that schools develop and conduct one “shooting drill” each semester to teach everyone how to protect themselves and others in such a case.

The bill provides that School Safety Grant monies be made available for the development of the program and may provide such things as metal detectors, surveillance cameras and intensive trainings.

Additionally, it provides that our teachers and administrators be trained in working with our students on issues such as conflict resolution, violence prevention, behavioral stress training and other coping skills to diffuse conflict within the school setting.

Importantly, the measure also mandates that school health curriculum include instruction on mental and behavioral health. The thought is that as individuals are aware of coping skills and how to identify troubling behaviors within themselves and others, the more likely they will be to effectively react and help.

 It is a sad state of affairs that we must pass measures to protect our schools from invading gunmen, but one only has to watch the news to see how often these tragedies are happening. I strongly supported this measure. It passed the House 114-3.

House Bill 334 establishes Mental Health Courts. Last year, we were able to pass preliminary guidelines for the creation of the courts; House Bill 334 provides rules for establishing and certifying such courts throughout the state. The purpose of the act is to establish court processes and procedures that are more responsive to the needs of defendants with mental illnesses, while maintaining public safety and the integrity of the court process.

Individuals who are suffering from mental illnesses deserve to be treated and not punished whenever reasonable and compatible with public safety.  It is estimated that as many as 15 percent of inmates in our correctional facilities are mentally ill. They should receive the treatment they need. I strongly support this program. The measure passed unanimously.

Mississippi needs to keep as many of our young people here as possible. House Bill 816 passed the House in an attempt to make staying here in Mississippi attractive to our college graduates and those who move here within two years of achieving their degrees elsewhere. After five years of remaining in Mississippi, these young people will be refunded one-half of the state income taxes they have paid during that time under this measure. This money may be used for home down payments, to help retire student debt, pay off a car or other important steps toward establishing their security and contributing to the growth and success of their communities. While this may be an unusual step for a state government to take, we believe it will pay off in our ability to realize the great benefits of keeping our young people right here at home. We hope this idea will be approved by the Senate and become law this year.

The House unanimously passed a resolution of commendation for the Water Valley Blue Devils Football Team for their impressive win of the Class 3A football championship during the 2018 season. We are all very proud of their efforts to bring the 3A championship home. I sponsored the resolution and we all commend these players and coaches on this impressive honor.

If I can be of assistance to you, please contact me. My email address is My residential address is 1720 North Main Street, Water Valley, MS 38965, and my office address is PO Drawer 280, Charleston, MS 38921. My office phone number is 662-647-3203.

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