NOTES FROM THE REPRESENTATIVESBy NOAH SANFORD,
Representative, District 90
Gov. Phil Bryant signed the Broadband Enabling Act into law on Wednesday, January 30, marking the final step of a significant win for rural Mississippi.
The House has been moving quickly toward February 5, the day on which all general (non-money) bills must have passed out of committee. The vast majority of bills met their deaths then.
A few bills which have made it through the process concern criminal justice reform and a plan to address the teacher shortage.
One of the most important provisions of House Bill 1352, the Criminal Justice Reform Act, broadens the expungement law. Currently, a felon may only have one felony expunged. The bill that passed the House committee would broaden this to multiple felonies which share a “common nucleus of operative facts.” Further, it creates a system for veterans courts (for those who suffer from PTSD and commit crimes as a result) and for mental health courts (for those who truly need mental treatment rather than jail time). At this point, House Bill 1352 does not lessen criminal penalties.
Another bill of interest which passed the House Education Committee last week, House Bill 1349, seeks to alleviate the crisis of teacher shortages in public schools across the state. The bill would increase teacher and teacher assistant salaries and allow retired teachers to keep their pensions and come back into the classroom to teach. This has long been sought after, and I certainly hope it is workable. We are not doing right by parents or students if we do not have licensed, qualified personnel in the classroom. Though the salary increase is not enough, it is, at least, a step in the right direction.
These bills and many more will be debated before the entire House in the coming weeks.
I appreciate the opportunity to serve. Please contact me if I can be of assistance.
Rep. Noah Sanford represents parts of Covington, Simpson, and Jefferson Davis Counties in the Mississippi House of Representatives. He can be reached at 601-765-4122 or NSanford@house.ms.gov.