The 2021 Legislative session is in the books. We gaveled out on Thursday, April 1, after spending the weekend at the Capitol and working late into the night on the final days of the session.
We passed several important issues in the last week that will positively impact our local communities.
For example, the City of Forest was deemed a qualified resort area.
So, what does that mean? Earlier in the session the amendment originated in the Senate and then the City of Forest Board of Aldermen voted 5-0 to send a resolution to the Legislature requesting to be granted a qualified resort status. With legislative approval, at the Board of Aldermen’s request, the restaurants in the City of Forest will be able to sell liquor and mixed drinks by the glass.
The City of Forest Board of Aldermen will set the guidelines just like they have set the guidelines for beer being sold in restaurants. This doesn’t mean that the City of Forest will have liquor stores. A petition and referendum would still have to be held for the city to have liquor stores, and the citizens would have to vote to approve the matter. It’s important to recognize that the qualified resort status will only allow liquor sales by the glass. It will be up to the governing authorities and Forest citizens to decide whether or not package liquor can be sold within the city limits.
House Bill 1504 passed and it will grant the City of Forest to hold an election on the subject of a local option tax with proceeds to go toward promoting tourism, parks and recreation. If passed by the City, up to a 2 percent tax on hotels/motels and restaurants will provide these funds. Our neighbor, the city of Carthage, passed this same local option tax several years ago, and it brings in around $330,000 a year to upgrade their sports facilities and to give more opportunities for their youth. You’ll be hearing more about this in the near future. In order for it to pass, 60 percent of the citizens must vote to approve it in an election.
Local cities in Scott County will get help from Legislature for infrastructure improvements under other measures that were passed.
It’s been an honor working with our local mayors, boards of aldermen, and other elected officials to help bring in some much needed money for infrastructure repairs. It was a great team effort to get this much needed help for our communities.
The City of Forest will receive $300,000 to help improve streets and sidewalks along the square and downtown area.
The City of Morton will receive another $150,000 to help improve the streets around Morton High School and surrounding areas to go along with the $150,000 it received last session in the fall, bringing in a total of $300,000 for future infrastructures improvements.
The Town of Sebastopol will receive $200,000 to help assist in paying costs associated with renovation of and upgrades and improvements to a building that will be the town's multipurpose community center.
With the money our cities and communities will be getting from the American Rescue Plan and a federal infrastructure plan that is supposed to be coming down soon, I think we will be getting a good shot in the arm to help improve our area with local infrastructure needs.
Here at home our estimated portion of the money from the American Rescue Plan is as follows:
Scott County: close to $5.5 million dollars
City of Forest: $1,248,235.80
City of Morton: $795,254.27
Town of Lake: $73,054.26
Town of Sebastopol: $62,231.41
One bill that I was proud to work on all year and see pass was the rural internet bill that allowed Mississippi Power and Entergy to use their lines to partner with other companies to offer internet services. We have both of these companies in Scott County, and they have sufficient lines across our county. This is another way to get more internet service in rural Mississippi and Scott County.
Education also got a big boost in funding this year with an extra $102 million more this year and a much needed teacher pay raise, a loan repayment program for new teachers, more money allocated to the teachers school supply fund, improving dyslexia services for students, more investments in early learning by doubling pre-k slots statewide, and computer science learning.
Next week I will give a complete update on all the other bills that have passed or didn’t pass in the 2021 Mississippi Legislative Session.
If I can help you in anyway feel to reach out to me. I’m back in my office now in Forest just about every day, feel free to stop by, call me at 601-469-7886, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to serve you and to be your voice in the Mississippi Legislature.