Mississippi Senate Weekly Report. March 5, 2010

For previous 2009 Legislative Reports and to find out more about Senator Kelvin Butler go to http://www.kelvinbutler.com/

Senator Kelvin Butler is Chairman of the Local & Private committee. He also serves on the Business & Financial Institutions; Finance; Judiciary, Division A; Municipalities; State Library; Highways & Transportation and Tourism committee.

This week we approved changes to Senate Bill 2495 that restored $82 million to state agencies for the current fiscal year, including $37 million to K-12 education and $2 million that ensures National Board Certified teachers receive their $6,000 annual stipend.

The bill also provides $16 million to the Department of Corrections to prevent mass layoffs, $1.49 million to district attorneys so they can continue to prosecute cases and $4 million to the Department of Mental Health. Another $4 million will be given to community and junior colleges.

We also approved House Bill 1170 that will allow school districts at their own discretion, to furlough personnel across the board for up to five non-instructional days. It gives districts the choice of reducing from 180 to 175, the number of school days, as a budgetary option in light of continually declining state revenues, which have caused the Governor to trim $458.5 million from the budget.

Passage of House Bill 607 will extend to six years the time in which timber theft can be prosecuted because distant property owners sometimes don’t discover they have been victimized until years later.

House Bill 1157 seeks an additional $100 fee charged to convicted sex offenders to help offset the cost of maintaining a DNA database. It will establish an additional $300 fee to be charged to persons convicted of felonies or enrolled in pretrial intervention programs in which the state Crime Lab provided laboratory analysis or forensic services.

Other bills passed included:

* House Bill 1456 will require any pathologist performing autopsies to be certified by the American Board of Pathology and deemed qualified by the Department of Public Safety.

* House Bill 1070 will allow the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks to issue a special hunting permit to children under the age of 18, who are suffering life threatening illnesses.

* House Bill 1047 will create a task force to seek solutions to teacher shortages.

* House Bill 113 seeks to have governmental agencies charge only actual costs for reproduction of public records requested by citizens. It also seeks to reduce from 14 working days to seven, the waiting period for such information.

* House Bill 1057 would create a Transit Task Force to study the statewide transportation system and infrastructure. The committee will look at current and future needs.

* House Bill 170 will give county Boards of Supervisors the authority to regulate strip clubs.