Bill honoring Tupelo officers goes to conference

news_inthenews_greenBy Bobby Harrison

Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – Legislation honoring two Tupelo police officers, one killed and the other injured in a Dec. 23 bank robbery, remains alive in the legislative process.

The state House by voice vote sent the “Gale Stauffer Jr. and Joseph Maher Law Enforcement Act of 2014” to conference Tuesday where House and Senate leaders will try to work out the differences in the legislation before the scheduled end of the session in late March or early April.

House Municipalities Chairman Ed Blackmon, D-Canton, had the option to recommend to the chamber to send the bill to Gov. Phil Bryant or to send it back for additional negotiations. Blackmon said because of changes made to the bill in the Senate, more negotiations are needed. No member objected.

Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, the primary author of the legislation, said, “The bill is going to be fine. We just need to get some things cleaned up.”

In the Dec. 23 bank robbery in Tupelo, Stauffer was killed while responding while Maher was injured.

The original intent of the House legislation was to ensure local governments could pay all or part of an injured employee’s salary not covered by a state law enforcement trust fund that compensates firefighters and law enforcement officers injured in the line of duty.

Tupelo city government already has determined that it could pay Maher without the legislation, though there were some questions at one point about whether it could.

In the Senate, the bill was expanded to ensure that state law enforcement injured in the line of duty would not have to use earned personal leave time or major medical leave time.

Holland said the conference is needed to further study the Senate language that was added.

bobby.harrison@journalinc.com