Vehicle inspection stickers about to go away

The House voted 112-7 in favor of eliminating the vehicle inspection sticker. Those favoring some type of inspection say that, since there is no support for a more thorough and expensive inspection process, it makes sense to eliminate the sticker. Gov. Phil Bryant must sign the repeal to become law.

The Sun Herald asks, “Will Phil Bryant sign bill to eliminate inspection stickers?

State Sen. Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula says, “Yes:”

The bill repeals the annual inspection (MS Code § 63-13-1 through 63-13-29) but leaves in place MS Code § 63-7-59 which prohibits mirror tinting and requires light transmittance of 28% or more on the windshield and front two side windows.

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Senate Education Committee passes “Tim Tebow” bill

Senate Bill 2329, a bill to allow home school students play public school sports, survived committee and passed to the Mississippi Senate. Named the “Tim Tebow Act” after the eponymous football player and home schooler who benefitted from a similar law in Florida, over 20 states already have laws that allow such access.

Sen. Joey Fillingane, the bill sponsor, argues that home school parents also pay taxes and should have equal access to extracurricular activities. Sen. Angela Hill believes, “We have a lot of people who are saving the state a lot of tax money by home schooling. . . I think it’s just a goodwill gesture that these kids could integrate with the school system and play sports if they want to.”

The bill originally included language that required documenting that home school academic standards were the same as public schools. The Senate Education Committee streamlined the wording require validation of academic achievement by “grade level testing administered by a school psychometrist.” Mississippi Home Educators Association (MHEA) opposes the bill since such language invites government intrusion and regulation of home schools. MHEA’s 5 Feb 2015 Facebook post expressed that “If this bill becomes law, it will be only a small step for psychometric testing to move from the realm of equal access to all home educators.”

SB 2329 also defines a home school as “a nonpublic school in which one or more children of not more than two (2) families or households receive full-time supervised academic instruction from a parent, legal guardian, or member of either household.” This definition is more restrictive than Mississippi’s compulsory education law and limits parents’ education options. With a new and different definition on the books, future courts could interpret statutes unpredictably and negatively impact home schools.

Sen. Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula, another opponent of the bill, believes that there should be no picking and choosing of public services stating, “You’re saying ‘I want to home school my child but I want the benefit of public school athletics. . . It’s kind of wanting to have your cake and eat it too.”

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Clarion-Ledger: Bryant, Reeves declare legislative victory at deadline

Bryant, Reeves declare legislative victory at deadline

Geoff Pender, The Clarion-Ledger, 03 Feb 2015

With Tuesday night’s deadline, both Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves were declaring success, with most of their legislative agenda’s surviving the deadline for passage from committee.

A spokeswoman for Bryant said his legislative agenda is “full steam ahead,” and provided this list:

Alive and subject to today’s deadline:

Mississippi Works Fund, $50 million for workforce training (SB2457, HB 911)

MS Works Scholarship, $3 million for career tech students (SB2452, HB950)

Common Core Reform (SB2161)

Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act (SB2695, HB394)

Government Reform: change composition of Contract Review Board (SB2553, HB825)

Government Reform: move Inmate Canteen Fund to Treasurer’s Office (SB2521, HB400)

Government Reform: move Ag leasing to Secretary of State (SB2562, HB403)

Government Reform: require DFA sign off on emergency contracts (SB2400, HB1137)

Measures to require casinos to seize gaming earnings of parents who owe back child support and to fund state trooper training did not pass committee. As long as the code sections are open, these efforts are not “dead, dead, dead”

Reeve’s office released:

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves’ agenda proposals, which include bringing transparency to state purchases and eliminating the vehicle inspection sticker, cleared Senate committees by today’s deadline. The Senate will consider bills over the next week

Lt. Gov. Reeves said he appreciated the support of senators on initiatives aimed at eliminating wasteful spending and making government more efficient.

“We’ve taken a strong first step in making real reforms happen in several areas of government that have been neglected for too long,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said. “We need bold reforms to make a difference for taxpayers.”

His agenda included Senate Bill 2553, by Sen. Nancy Collins, R-Tupelo, to tighten state contracting laws and increase scrutiny on government purchases. The bill remakes the Personal Service Contract Review Board, requires a biannual review of procurement practices by the legislative watchdog committee, and ensures pricing details and terms of contracts are public records.

Other bills on Lt. Gov. Reeves’ agenda include:

·Senate Bill 2519, by Sen. John Polk, R-Hattiesburg, eliminating the vehicle inspection sticker.

·Senate Bill 2407, by Sen. Brice Wiggins, R-Pascagoula, placing public hospital boards under the Open Meetings Act

·Senate Bill 2481, by Sen. Brice Wiggins, R-Pascagoula, improving care for the mentally ill.

·Senate Bill 2161, by Sen. Videt Carmichael, R-Meridian, ensuring high academic standards for Mississippi students.

·Senate Bill 2695, by Sen. Collins, providing school choice for special needs children

·Senate Bill 2394, by Sen. Terry Burton, R-Newton, reducing concealed carry permit fees.

·Senate Bill 2619, by Sen. Haskins Montgomery, D-Bay Springs, recognizing military training for firearm permits.

Busy April Fools’ Day for State Legislature

The Mississippi Legislature had a busy day and passed several bills despite some significant opposition to several of them.  Below are the bills that have been sent to Gov. Phil Bryant for signature with some comments from Twitter.

Senate Bill 2681, Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, received significant opposition and was labeled as discriminatory.  A similar bill in Arizona raised national attention but was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer.  Mississippi Center for Public Policy (MCPP) had several interesting comments:

SB 2681 wasn’t passed without some objections:

Remarkably, House Bill 1400, which prohibits abortion after 20-weeks, passed both the House and Senate and Gov. Bryant is ready to sign into law:

What some are calling a compromise, House Bill 504, Teacher Pay Raise, will provide for pay raises based on meritorious achievement.  Few are entirely satisfied but many are thankful to have passed something including Mississippi Delta Sen. Derrick Simmons:

Sen. Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula authored and pushed forward Senate Bill 2579, Marine Resources and Accountability and Reorganization Act, to reform the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) after widespread corruption was discovered recently in the organization.

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Legislature celebrates the criminal-justice reform law

Credit for the Criminal Justice Reform Law (HB 585) is being given to Rep. Brice Wiggins (R-Pascagoula), Speaker Philip Gunn (R-56), Rep. Greg Snowden (R-83), Rep. Andy Gipson (R-77), and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves.

HB 585 is 194 pages long and passage reflects a tremendous amount of effort from the state legislature in updating laws in many areas to include sentencing, parole, recidivism, drug and alcohol related crime, violent crime, corrections resources, and training requirements.

Twitter was a-buzz with all the back-slapping after the Gov. Phil Bryant’s signing ceremony:

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Miss. Senate confirms pro-Common Core Superintendent

The Miss. Senate confirmed Carey Wright as the State Superintendent of Education on March 19th despite her support for Common Core.  Common Core is a national educational curriculum and standard promoted by the Obama Administration.  The Senate voted 46-6 to confirm Wright.

The Mississippi State Board of Education approved Common Core-aligned curricula in February.  The standards were adopted in 2010 but 2014-2015 school year will be the first year that the curriculum and testing aligned with them.

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Miss. Legislature approves “Right on Crime” Reform Bill

From Gov. Phil Bryant:

We pledged to Mississippians that we would make this the ‘public safety session’, and we have worked hard to develop a research-based plan that is tough on crime while using tax dollars wisely where they make the most impact,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “This bill ensures that violent criminals are held accountable for their crimes, and it provides a second chance to veterans and other Mississippians who have made mistakes want to take steps to get their lives back on track.

Gov. Bryant specifically thanked state Sen. Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula for his support in getting the bill passed.

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