Legislators work to streamline aid after Courthouse fire

By Rep. Joey Hood District 35

I am saddened to hear about the fire at the Webster County Courthouse in Walthall. I would like to commend the firefighters from Webster County and surrounding counties for their efforts in preventing the fire from destroying all of the legal documents in the Courthouse.

Our local elected officials, department heads, the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District, and volunteers should also be commended for their efforts.

I, along with Rep. Jim Beckett, Rep. Bobby Howell and Sen. Gary Jackson, have been in constant contact with Webster County elected officials and the governor’s office in order to streamline any assistance for the county.

We have been informed that the Appalachian Regional Commission will provide Webster County with assistance for the purchase of computers, communication equipment and preservation of documentation contained within the courthouse.

We have also contacted other state agencies seeking relief for Webster County. I will keep you informed as we receive information regarding assistance for Webster County.

Session Kicks Off On Jan. 8, the 128th Mississippi State Legislature kicked off the second session of the four-year term. On opening day, Rep. Bill Kinkade (R-Byhalia) was sworn in to his seat as a new member in the Mississippi House of Representatives. Rep. Kinkade fills the vacancy of former Rep. Tommy Woods, who retired last year. Brent Powell (R-Brandon) won a special election on Jan. 8 to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Kevin McGee and was later sworn in.

The 2013 legislative session will last 90 days. House committees have been meeting for the past two weeks to prepare for issues that will be addressed before the session adjourns sine die on April 7. Some of these issues include the budget, education and the expansion of Medicaid. I will continue to update you on these issues as the session progresses.

LSPB Funding On Jan. 11, the House passed an appropriation of $20 million for the Local System Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Fund and $3 million for the Rural Fire Truck Acquisition Assistance Program. These appropriations were not included in the 2012 legislative session.

Last week members mourned the loss of colleague and friend Rep. David Gibbs (D-West Point) who died on Jan. 13. Rep. Gibbs began serving in the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1993 and was remembered by many for his quiet leadership. Legislators also received a state budget briefing from state Economist Darrin Webb and Treasurer Lynn Fitch on Jan. 17. Webb confirmed that the U.S. economy is slowly growing, with the only bright spots being housing and vehicle sales.

Coauthors Firearm Freedom Act As your representative, I want to assure the citizens in District 35 that I will continue to fight for your Second Amendment right to bear arms. Citizens have a constitutional right to protect themselves, their families and their property.

In support of our Second Amendment right, I have coauthored the Mississippi Firearm Freedom Act, which declares that any firearms, ammunition or firearm accessories that are made and retained in Mississippi are beyond the authority of Congress. I am also a coauthor on House Bill 2, which strengthens Mississippi’s concealed- carry law.

Speaker Philip Gunn also hosted a press conference last week regarding protection of Mississippians’ Second Amendment rights. The speaker was joined by Gov. Phil Bryant and a bipartisan group of House members who have vowed to support citizens’ constitutional rights to protect themselves.

I would like to thank the people of District 35 for allowing me the opportunity to serve. If you have any questions or need any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me at any time.

You can contact me at the Capitol at P.O. Box 1018, Jackson, MS 39215 or call 601-359-3339. You may also email me at jhood@house.ms.gov or visit my website at www.joeyhoodmississippi.com