By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – The state House is not giving up on the proposition of Mississippians being able to drive faster.
The House revived legislation Thursday that would give the three-member elected Transportation Commission the authority to raise the speed limit to 75 miles per hour on highways where it is determined the extra 5 mph can be driven safely.
Similar legislation that the House passed earlier in the session had died Tuesday when it was not passed out of a Senate committee on a deadline day.
But on Thursday on the House floor, Rep. Johnny Stringer, D-Montrose, offered an amendment to a bill dealing with adding terrorism “as an aggravated circumstance” for a capital offense. No one objected to Stringer adding the amendment dealing with the speed limit, which passed on a voice vote. The full bill went on to pass with only one dissenting vote.
Asked after the session what the speed limit had to do with terrorism, Stringer joked, “If you see a terrorist coming up on you, you may need to speed up to get away from him.”
Stringer said he is serious about wanting to allow the state speed limit to be increased on open stretches of limited access highways, such as intestates.
He said Louisiana and Texas already had passed similar legislation. He said it would make sense for people traveling through Texas and Louisiana to be able to continue the faster driving through Mississippi.
The bill now goes back to the Senate, which can invite negotiations on the legislation or pass it and send it to Gov. Phil Bryant.
Earlier, Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert said if the legislation becomes law, he would rely on the commission’s safety engineers to determine the stretches of highway where the speed limit could be raised.
“Plus, quite frankly, I also would want to get input from law enforcement on safety issues,” he said.