Senate Report

By TYLER MCCAUGHN,

Your Mississippi Senate had a week filed with hearings, committee meetings and floor action. The appropriations process is ongoing with various agencies presenting budget requests and the evidence to support the requests.  I am fortunate to sit on the K-12 Sub Appropriations Committee along with the Insurance Sub Committee.  These committees report directly to the Appropriations Committee for further actions. 

On Tuesday of last week, the full Appropriations Committee met to discuss the proposed teacher pay raise Senate Bill 2001.  As Secretary of that committee, it was a privilege to sign the committee report announcing that the teacher pay raise bill passed out of the Appropriations Committee. From there, the bill went to the full Senate on Wednesday for floor action.  After minimal debate from the floor, the teacher pay raise bill passed the Senate unanimously with 52 co-authors. 

Senate Bill 2001 seeks to raise teacher salaries by at least $1,000 per year and assistant teachers’ salaries from $14,000 to a minimum $15,000. For the new teacher, it would give $1,100 raises to teachers in their first two years. The bill also gives school districts the option of using the assistant teachers’ funds to hire licensed teachers instead if it helps that district to reduce the teacher-student ratio for grades K-3, since smaller classes are more beneficial. The bill is now in the House for consideration.

In other Senate action last week, the full Senate recognized former Presiding Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court Fred Lee Banks Jr. with Senate Concurrent Resolution 517 and the first African American Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court Reuben Vincent Anderson with Senate Concurrent Resolution 518.  The Senate recognized all of the recipients of the Governor’s Arts Awards including Meridian native Steve Forbert.  Additionally, the Senate recognized Marty Stuart for his achievements throughout the music industry.

Visitors of note this week include members of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, the Meridian CC Honors College, the chancery clerks, the Future Farmers of America, the physical therapy students, the Mississippi Library Association, Miss Rodeo America, and the Dixie National Rodeo Queens.

The House and Senate passed joint rules this week and agreed to reduce the length of session by seven days.  This week starts the beginning of the deadlines as the drafting deadline is set for this week.  As always, thank you for letting me serve you and please come visit your Mississippi Capitol.