The legislature just completed the longest regular session in Mississippi history. In spite of a worldwide pandemic, which has created economic turmoil, we passed some great legislation that will help Mississippians, our communities, and the residents of Senate District 6.
One of the most important issues to me, when representing the citizens of this district, is supporting the public education system and the teachers that are shaping the future of our state through our children. This year, we passed HB 1 that provided $19 million to fully fund teacher pay raises from the 2019 session. Due to the covid-19 pandemic, we passed the following bills needed for distance learning to ensure our students can learn and succeed in such uncertain times. HB 1788 provided $50 million to the Department of Education for K-12 grants to rural schools lacking internet access and SB 3044 provided $150 million to the Department of Education to make sure that our students have the technology they need to learn. SB 3046 also created a grant program with Mississippi’s member-owned electric cooperatives to expand the much-needed broadband access for students and residents working and learning from home across our state.
Also important to me is the value of each life that should be just as precious to us as it is to the Lord we serve. To strengthen the laws protecting life in Mississippi, we passed HB 1295, the “Life Quality Act,” which prohibits abortions based on sex, race, or genetic abnormality. We also amended the previous sex trafficking law with HB 1559 to provide resources and additional services, such as counseling, medical support, and transitional housing for victims of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation through the Attorney General’s office. Finally, SB 2764 was passed that will allow Mississippians with health conditions or disabilities, who have trouble communicating with law enforcement, to place an identifying sticker on their vehicle, so law enforcement officers can quickly identify these special needs adults and respond to them according to their needs. These special stickers may be placed on the automobile’s tag and/or on the front left windshield.
Small businesses are the backbone of our state. It is important for me as an elected official to help increase productivity and increase quality of life for the workers and small businesses in Mississippi. I receive many calls about the delays at the Driver’s Licence Office and I am listening. I’m committed to the goal of helping all Mississippians receive a driver’s license within 1 hour. HB1371 is a step in the right direction towards that goal. It amends the law to require the Department of Public Safety, Division of Driver’s Licence Services, to include a “wait anywhere” appointment system, which allows a person to receive email and/or text notifications for appointments. This bill also gives people a $10 discount for anyone that has to wait more than 2.5 hours to receive their driver’s license.
My hope and goal is for every Mississippian to have the opportunity to connect with a career that fulfills them as an individual, allows them to raise a family, and provides a high standard of living in this state. SB 2564 works towards that goal by reorganizing the State Workforce Investment Board and creating an office to coordinate workforce development, with an emphasis on helping small businesses.
We also passed laws that will help with productivity and quality of life for small businesses and others affected by covid-19. We passed SB 2772 that provided $240 million to Mississippi’s small businesses to help them recover from the effects of the pandemic and SB 3049 that protects health care facilities, schools, nonprofits, small businesses, and others that acted in good faith attempting to follow CDC Health Department guidelines during the pandemic.
Just as important to me as passing some of the previously mentioned laws is securing funding for our district’s needs. In 2020, we funded several very important economic and community development projects in the annual bond bill, including:
•$3 million for the Chickasaw Inkana Heritage Center.
•$500,000 for renovations to the BancorpSouth Conference Center, which is a regional asset.
•$1 million for the Sand Creek Wastewater Treatment facility.
•$100,000 to help refurbish the Pratts community/voting precinct.
•$50,000 for a parking lot at Baldwyn Veterans Park.
•$50,000 for the Kirkville/Houston Community pavilion and park.
•$50,000 for assisting with the cost of a building for the Mooreville-Eggville Volunteer Fire Department.
I want to thank the voters and residents of Mississippi Senate District 6 for the opportunity to serve you in the Mississippi State Senate. Please let me know if I can be helpful to you or your families.