2020 session and new term kick off

By TOM MILES,

When we kicked off the 2020 session on January 8, I had the honor of raising my hand for the third time to be sworn in to serve as your State Representative for House District 75. My commitment eight years ago and my commitment today are the same — I will always be your voice in Jackson and put you, the good people, first in every decision that I make and every vote that I take. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to continue to serve you at our State Capitol.

As our first order of business, I was pleased to vote “yes” on House Bill 1, which corrects the appropriation to fund the teacher pay raise implemented last year. The Senate voted to pass that bill on January 16.

House members closed out our second week of the session early last week as we wait for most committee appointments to be determined. A highlight of last week’s activities in the House Chamber was the inaugural ceremony for Mississippi’s 65th Governor Tate Reeves. The weather didn’t cooperate for an outside event, so we were pleased to have front row seats to the historic happening. The week prior, we hosted the swearing in festivities of our other state-wide elected officials.

I think I can speak for my colleagues when I say we are all hopeful for a cooperative session and future with our newly elected officials, one where the needs of Mississippians are put first on the agenda.

The horrible conditions in our corrections system were front and center on our minds and in the minds of our fellow citizens. It is clear that underfunding the system has had a huge impact on those conditions. We should keep in mind that not only are inmates being affected, those charged with keeping them safe behind bars are also in danger. I hope that these terrible events will result in a focused effort on proper funding for one of the most important functions of government — public safety. My former colleague in the House, Mayor George Flaggs, was appointed by the governor to lead the investigative task force on the issue. As a former chair of Corrections, Mr. Flaggs should be well suited to understand the various facets of what it will take to clean things up. It has been mentioned that Walnut Grove may be reopened to help house transferred inmates.

We re-elected Rep. Phillip Gunn as Speaker of the House and my good friend Rep. Jason White as Speaker Pro Tem. At this writing, we are still awaiting committee assignments.

We enjoyed learning from the various groups that came to the Capitol. We met with National Guard Major General Janson D. Boyles and his leadership team who gave us an update on the over 600 members of our National Guard who are stationed overseas. The county supervisors, city officials and others brought their concerns and ideas to us as well. Our local officials believe that home rule should be emphasized because those who are closest to the ground know better what is needed in our counties, towns, and communities.

As always, if you need my help or have concerns, I’m only a phone call away. You can always contact me at 601-469-7886 or email me at tmiles@house.ms.gov.