Legislative update: Week of Feb. 4, 2013

By Rep. Chris Brown

This week, we mourned the loss of colleague and friend Rep. Joe Gardner (D-Batesville) who died unexpectedly on Feb. 4. Rep. Gardner began serving in the Mississippi House of Representatives in 2007 and was remembered by his kind and gentle spirit.
Gardner is the fourth member of the legislature to pass away this year. We also grieved with Rep. Mark Formby over the tragic death of his five-year-old niece, Ella Formby, who passed away this week as well.
We devoted the first part of the week to addressing bills in committee in anticipation of Tuesday’s 8 p.m. deadline to move all general bills and constitutional amendments out of committee and onto the House Calendar. Bills not reported out of committee by that deadline are dead for the Session.
By deadline on Tuesday, 77 percent of the measures submitted by members had been killed. Of the 1,470 measures introduced, 341 survived and made it to the House Calendar. The latter half of this week, we began addressing those bills on the General and Noncontroversial Calendars. There were 88 bills on the Noncontroversial Calendar. Many of the measures we took up dealt with clean up legislation to existing laws.
The House Judiciary B Committee members passed several bills out of committee on Tuesday. Some of the issues covered in the bills were human trafficking, protection of firearms, parental rights, DUI ignition locks, trespassing and domestic violence. These bills will now be added to the House Calendar and will be revisited next week.
One of the bills to move out of Judiciary B this week was HB 496 that protects the family and establishes the rights of a parent to direct the upbringing, care and education of their children.
We also took up HB 1049 which removed almost $200 million in bonds that have been authorized by past legislative action but not used. Some of these bonds dated back more than 40 years.
House Bill 376 passed this week as well. If enacted, this measure would permit MDOT to increase the speed limit on interstates from 70 mph to 75 mph.
House Bill 102 was supported overwhelmingly to establish “Wounded Warrior Hunt Areas” in the state to help our wounded veterans.
House Bill 1001 was a bill that reduced the price of the Combination Small Game License for residence to $8.
House Bill 151 helped strengthen the “Child Protection Act” we passed last year. This legislation will help prosecute child predators.
This is not an exhaustive list but a few measures that passed in your House of Representatives this week. This week was focused on moving legislation out of committee and taking up less controversial bills on the floor. The House rules allow one day per session to utilize the non-controversial calendar and we finished that calendar Thursday.
Next week, we will move on to the more controversial bills that will consume more time to discussion and debate.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you and if you have any questions please contact me. Please make sure you use crbrown@house.ms.gov when emailing me. There is another Representative Brown in the house and it will not get to me without the ‘cr’ before the brown.
District 20 Rep. Chris Brown serves in the Mississippi House of Representatives. He can be reached at (601) 359-2434 or crbrown@house.ms.gov.

About Ray Van Dusen

I've been with the Monroe Journal since Aug. 2009 as a staff writer, but took the role as news editor in late 2012. I'm always looking for interesting story ideas from around Monroe County. You can reach me via email at ray.vandusen@journalinc.com.