2017 Legislature Session Preview
It’s back to the hustle and bustle in Jackson for state lawmakers with plenty of key issues on tap. News 25 sat down with a couple of Coast legislators before they head up to Jackson tomorrow to see what they’re hoping to tackle in this year’s legislative session.
The state’s 174 lawmakers will convene in Jackson Tuesday for the start of Mississippi’s 2017 legislative session to chisel out the state’s budget for the next fiscal year which begins July 1st. It looks like they’ll have about a $6 billion budget to work with. District 49 State Senator Sean Tindell said, “Obviously in a budget year like this where we have budget shortfalls, legislators from across the state will be looking at different sources of revenue in which to fill budget gaps and so it’s going to be a fight to make sure that’s not what the BP money is used for.”
With $110 million BP dollars up for grabs, Representative Scott Delano and other members of the Coast delegation are banking on Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves to come through on his pledge to see that most of that money is used here in South Mississippi, getting a bill passed out of the Senate and sending it over to the House for approval. District 117 State Representative Scott Delano said, “All we want on the House side is to have an opportunity to go and make our case to the floor, but that is going to have to originate in the Senate and get passed and let us do what we can over on the House side to take care of it and bring those dollars back down to the Coast.”
Another hot topic is restructuring the MAEP school funding formula. “We expect to have a vigorous debate about that on the floor, but at the end of the day it’s about getting more money into the classrooms and we want to do it in the most effective way possible and we want to do it fair so that all school districts throughout the state have a fair shot at their money,” said Delano.
Also sure to top the agenda is a look at our youth court systems, mental health issues, and even an animal cruelty bill that would seek to make aggravated animal cruelty a felony as well as allow law enforcement to charge offenders with multiple counts of animal abuse. “I’ve been a supporter of that in the past, so we’ll see how far it gets through the process. We’ve got some bills dealing with DUIs, strengthening some of those laws and some of our criminal laws, trying to make sure the dangerous criminals stay off our streets and locked up while those drug offenders and those with mental issues get the treatment they need,” said Tindell.
The opening gavel drops Tuesday at noon.