Report To The People
House members came ready to work last Monday, March 11, and the result was a hefty increase in the proposed teacher pay raise in Senate Bill 2770. The measure had previously contained a $1,000 increase, spread out over two years, which amounted to about $1.37 per day. Anyone with an understanding of our current public education situation recognizes that we are in a teacher shortage crisis, caused in great part by abysmally low teacher salaries.
The bill was amended to increase the proposed pay increase to $4,000 over two years, which would bring the starting salary to closely align with that of our neighboring states. An effort was made to vote down the amendment, and that was defeated. I voted in favor of the increase.
The amended bill passed the House by a vote of 112-2 and has now gone to the Senate for concurrence. If the Senate changes our proposal, a conference committee will be appointed to iron out the differences. I am hopeful that the priority of paying our teachers appropriately will be honored.
Several attempts to offer state employees raises were made during floor debate on appropriation bills; however, most of those died on a procedural move to table the amendments. I join with those of my colleagues who hold the belief that given the state’s increased revenue projections of over $120 million this year , we should have funds available to provide these state workers a raise. Many of them have not had raises in over 10 years.
We passed an amended version of Senate Bill 2305, which levies serious penalties against those who engage in human trafficking. This practice is not unknown to Mississippi. More arrests are being made every year of people who force others into labor and even sex work. The measure passed unanimously and has been returned to the Senate for concurrence.
Senate Bill 2524 provides for the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Residency Program to include psychiatry students. The scholarship program was first provided to offer medical students relief from tuition expenses if they would agree to practice in specified rural areas of the state for a period of time.
The rural areas and small communities of our state sometimes have limited access to psychiatric, mental health services close to home. Individuals suffering from mental illnesses should have accessible, expert medical care just like anyone else suffering from a treatable disease. I was proud to support this measure. It passed the House by a vote of 113-0 and has been returned to the Senate for concurrence.
I was honored to present The Youth Court Act, Senate Bill 2840, to the House chamber. The measure makes much-needed changes to our Youth Court system, as recommended by the Mississippi Supreme Court’s Commission on Children’s Justice.
Among the changes to the court system is a requirement that verbal custody orders issued by the judge must be reduced to writing within 48 hours, rather than the six months previously allowed. Further, it requires health care coverage of special needs children to continue after their adoption.
This bill passed the House by a vote of 116-0. I am most hopeful that these measures will help the children whose lives are directly impacted in the foster care system of the state. We must take care of the most vulnerable among us.
If I can be of assistance to you, please contact me. My email address is email@example.com. My residential address is 1720 North Main Street, Water Valley, MS 38965, and my office address is P.O. Box 280, Charleston, MS 38921. My office phone number is 662-647-3203.