Report To The People
House members worked through general bills last week to meet Thursday’s deadline for floor action on bills originating in our chamber. We were able to approve a number of measures that I believe will make a difference in our communities.
One of these measures was House Bill 1363, which assures that funds provided to the Mississippi Development Authority would be available for short line railroads such as the line that runs down Yalobusha County’s western side and through a portion of the Enid Area in Tallahatchie County.
I was very pleased to support and work for passage of a bill a couple of years ago which provided funds to assure that we did not forever lose this rail line-as was threatened. House Bill 1363 could now help to make the improvement of this rail line and other short lines in our state possible by authorizing monies from the Mississippi Railroad Improvements Fund to assist with the repair, rehabilitation, upgrading and improvement of short line railroads. The Bill passed by a vote of 116-0.
I also strongly supported House Concurrent Resolution 47, which establishes in our State’s Constitution additional rights for victims of crime. The proposed constitutional amendment provides in part that “ …. a victim shall have the following rights which shall be protected in a manner no less vigorous that the rights afforded to the accused:
(a) To be treated with fairness and respect for the victim’s safety, dignity and privacy;
(b) Upon request, to reasonable and timely notice of, and to be present at, all public proceedings involving the criminal or delinquent conduct;
(c) To be heard in any public proceeding involving the criminal or delinquent conduct;
(d) To be heard in any public proceeding involving release, plea, sentencing, disposition, parole, and any public proceeding during which a right of the victim is implicated;
(e) To reasonable protection from the accused or any person acting on behalf of the accused;
(f) To reasonable notice, upon request, of any release or escape of an accused;
(h) To full and timely restitution;
(i) To proceedings free from unreasonable delay and a prompt conclusion of the case;
G) To confer with the attorney for the government upon request;
The Bi11 passed 84-33.
In our ongoing efforts to repair and replace our local bridges, we passed House Bill 779, which was passed to maximize all potential sources of funding including state and federal, for projects covered by the program. Under this Bill, any available sources of funding may be combined to fund any project covered by the program. This includes state aid roads and/or Local System Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program funds, which may be used in conjunction with Emergency Road and Bridge Repair Fund monies within the discretion of the department and subject to the requirements of those funds. In short, the Bill will make the disbursement of bridge repair funds less cumbersome and more accountable. The Bill passed 94- 18.
If I can be of assistance in any way, please call on me. My local office telephone number is 662-647-3203 and my e-mail address is thomasureynolds@bell south.net. My local office address is P.O. Drawer 280, Charleston, MS 38921 and my residence address is 1720 North Main, Water Valley, MS 38965.
Judges, in Mississippi, have sentenced many people to one of its four restitution centers. While at the centers, they’re usually required to stay until their court-ordered debts are paid. The inmates (residents) sentenced to the centers are felons without any violent crime convictions. One such inmate or minimal risk offender was Annita Husband. She was sentenced, in 2015, to the restitution center called Flowood Restitution Center a converted motel behind razor wire. She was sent there to pay off $13,000 from an embezzlement conviction in 2009. She worked at Church’s Chicken to settle her debt of $12,685.50. The restitution program also helped businesses, such as the Sonic Drive-In near Jackson, find people to hire. After Annita’s shift at Church’s Chicken, she was picked up by a corrections van and driven back to Flowood. The debtors-prison is located near truck stops and a shopping mall. While Mississippi has a Black population of 38 percent, the Black population at the centers is 49 percent as of 2019. MS is reported to be the poorest state in the union. The 49% statistic also may be relaying something about any communal deterioration: the immobility of a person, their not being able to obtain food and services on their own, the fact that they must be cared for by others, or inaccurate record keeping. Some judges think the program serves a good purpose. One circuit judge in Clarksdale sees the program helping someone to become a part of society. Before Annita paid off her debt, she ran away from Flowood but was captured 6 months later and sent to prison for 10 months. Today, she is free and her criminal case is closed. “You’re there without an end. You don’t know when you’re getting out… That’s torture,” railed Husband.