By Rep. Joey Hood
House members faced another major deadline last week as they continued to address Senate bills on the House floor.
By March 12, House members needed to address all general, nonrevenue bills received from the Senate. If a Senate bill was not taken up and passed by then, it died on the calendar. March 13 was the last day for reconsidering Senate bills, and Friday was the deadline for tabling Motions to Reconsider.
School Start Date
In 2012, House members passed a measure that delayed the school start date, pushing it to the third Monday in August. Last week, the Legislature amended Senate Bill 2571, essentially abolishing the bill passed in 2012.
This effort returns control of start-date decisions to local school districts. The bill passed by a vote of 111-4. I voted to return the school start date to the discretion of the local school district.
Teacher Pay Raise
I voted to invite conference on the teacher pay raise proposal. I am glad that the Senate followed the House’s lead in presenting a teacher pay raise.
The details for the House plan in conference is to take the pay raise of $2,500 in the first two years as the Senate proposed. During the third year, if the state has 3 percent revenue growth teachers will receive $1,000. In the fourth year, if the state has 3 percent revenue growth teachers will receive $750.
The House plan for conference provides teachers with a total pay raise of $4,250 with no benchmarks or merit pay requirements. I will keep everyone updated on the status of the teacher pay raise and any agreement that is worked out with the Senate in conference.
Religious Freedom Restoration Act
An amended version of Senate Bill 2681, the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” passed by a vote of 82-35. I voted for the bill.
Members voted to create a study committee comprising House and Senate Judiciary Committee members to look further into this issue, while preserving the addition of the “In God We Trust” language to the state seal. I suspect this bill will go to conference.
Statewide Squirrel Season
Senate Bill 2369 recognizes Oct. 1-Feb. 28 as statewide squirrel season. 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.