By Rep. Joey Hood
On Jan. 7, the 129th Mississippi state Legislature kicked off the third session in the four-year term.
I would like to thank the citizens of the District 35 for allowing me to serve as your state representative. The first day of legislative session, we welcomed three members who had recently been sworn in after special elections. This legislative session will last 90 days. The deadline for requesting a general bill to be drafted was Jan. 15.
Members of the Legislative Budget Office presented an overview of the fiscal year 2015 budget recommendation to House members during an Appropriations Committee meeting.
The FY15 budget recommendation has no across-the-board cuts, does not use non-recurring funds to support recurring expenditures, recommends using Capitol Expense Funds for repair and renovation in lieu of bonding and sets aside reserves of $548 million. I will keep everyone updated throughout the session on the state budget.
Legislators received an economic briefing from state Economist Darrin Webb and Treasurer Lynn Fitch.
Webb stated that the U.S, economy is growing gradually, with the Mississippi economy following a similar pattern. He said we have seen the strongest employment growth since 1999, with approximately 18,818 jobs added in 2013.
Youth Concussion Law
House Bill 48, known as the Youth Concussion Law will protect students (grades 7 through 12) with concussions from participating in school-sponsored events.
Students will only be allowed to resume participation in the event after being cleared by a health-care provider. Mississippi is the only state without laws in place to protect students with concussions. The bill passed 117-1. I voted for the bill.
Drug Testing TANF Recipients
This bill requires drug testing for certain Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients who have been screened. Supporters of the bill believe this effort will help people who have drug problems receive treatment. Opponents of the bill argued the legislation is inefficient and will cost the state money.
After a little more than four hours of debate on the House floor, the bill passed on a vote of 74-46. I voted for the bill.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website at www.joeyhoodmississippi.com.