MS Senate Report by SCR
By Senator Haskins Montgomery
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Special Session on September 2, 2011
by SCR
Sep 23, 2011 | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

During a one day Special Session on September 2, 2011, the Senate approved Senate Bill 2001 that provides $175 million in incentives for CaliSolar and HCL Clean Tech, whose locations in Mississippi will create about 1,800 jobs.

Calisolar will open a plant in Columbus which will employ 951 workers whose salaries will average $45,000 a year plus benefits. The state’s assistance is in the form of a secured $59.5 million loan for the building and equipment, along with $15.75 million in grants for infrastructure and workforce training. The company will invest $600 million and Lowndes County will assist to the tune of $14.1 million.

Calisolar, a Sunnyvale, California based company, produces silicon castings for solar panels and other industrial purposes.

During the 16-month construction phase that begins in early 2012, peak hiring is expected to reach 1,000.

HCL Clean Tech has proposed investing $1 billion to create a headquarters in Olive Branch, constructing three large scale commercial plants in the Booneville, Hattiesburg and Natchez areas and building a small scale commercial and research and development center in Grenada. 

The company converts biomass to sugars that can be utilized as industrial bioproducts. They use a proprietary process to transform wood chips into cellulosic sugars that can be used for animal nutrition, surfactant, lubricants, cosmetics and fuel.

HCL Clean Tech will create 800 jobs paying average salaries of $67,000. The state will assist with a $100 million incentive package, consisting of a $95 million secured loan and a $5 million grant that can be used for either equipment, infrastructure or training.

Local incentives for the company have yet to be determined.

Also approved was a change to the existing Mississippi Advantage Jobs Rebate Program that will allow Ingalls Shipbuilding of Pascagoula, to create 3,000 new jobs over the next four years. Those jobs will pay an average salary of $41,000 plus benefits.

Haskins Montgomery

Senate District 34

 

Published in the September 7, 2011 edition of the Reformer

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April 7, 2011
by SCR
Apr 15, 2011 | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink



The Senate approved a 2012 fiscal year budget of $5.5 billion and agreed to $38 million in funding for a civil rights and state history museum.

The Senate approved bonds of $20 million for the civil rights museum and $18 million for the state history museum, both of which are to be built in downtown Jackson on state property. Private funding is still expected to be involved in the startup.

Highlights of the budget include:

* Funding K-12 education at $2.25 billion.

*Funding Institutions of Higher Learning at $701 million and community and junior colleges at $233 million.

* Within the budget is a bond bill that provides $98.9 million for institutions of higher learning for maintenance and renovation. Community and junior colleges received $25 million for maintenance and renovation.

The Senate voted Sine Die on Thursday, April 7, 2011, bringing to a close the 2011     Legislative session. 

It is unfortunate that the Legislature was unable to complete their redistricting process. Governor Barbour has agreed to call a special session if a compromise between the Senate and House leadership can be agreed upon. The leadership in the Senate last week blocked all efforts for the Senate as a whole to vote on a house plan. The House has passed the Senate plan and their house plan twice. The Senate has only passed its plan.  Without an agreement soon between Senate and House leadership it looks like it will go to Federal Court with a lot of unknowns. 

I would like to thank the Smith County Reformer for reporting my weekly summary of the Mississippi State Senate to help keep you informed. I very much appreciate your emails suggestions and comments; I am honored to represent you in the Mississippi Senate. If I can ever help you in any way, please feel free to contact me.

Sen. Haskins Montgomery

Senate District 34

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April 1, 2011
by SCR
Apr 06, 2011 | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

   Late Wednesday night the Senate and House conferees agreed on a budget for the next fiscal year. The Senate this week agreed with the House on a $5.48 billion 2012 budget that funds K-12 education at $2.25 billion.

   The budget sets out funding for Institutions of Higher Learning at $701 million and community and junior college funding at $233 million. 

In addition, Senators passed a $422.9 million bond bill that will provide $98.9 million in repair and maintenance funds for our institutions of higher learning.

   The bill also provides our community and junior colleges with $25 million for repairs and maintenance.

   We set aside $73 million for the Mississippi Industry Incentive Financing Revolving Fund that allows the state to loan money to corporations that locate here and provide jobs for our citizens.

Currently, the Mississippi Development Authority is negotiating five projects for placement throughout the state that could be lured with loans from that fund.

   Another $20 million was placed into the Local System Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Fund that especially helps counties to maintain safe bridges.

   The Department of Public   Safety will be funded at $66.3 million.

   Other bills passed include

*Senate Bill 2368 will allow the Department of Finance and Administration to maintain a list of suspended contractors and subcontractors, who will not be eligible to work on state buildings.

*Senate Bill 2059 will create a Country and Western Music Commission to study how best to foster a greater appreciation of the art forms. The committee will also seek ways to promote country and western music as a means of enhancing tourism.

*Senate Bill 2821 will create the Mississippi Dog and Cat Pet Protection Law of 2011 that set out penalties for intentional harm being inflicted on animals.

   The Legislature’s redistricting  issue is still unsettled. It must be resolved soon to be able to meet the deadline for this year’s regular election.

We are tentatively set to Sine Die on Monday, April 11, 2011. This will meet the 90 days of regular session with no extra cost to the tax payers for an extended session.

   On a personal note, many of your legislators have been involved in a “Fit 4 Change” Paul Lacoste Sports Program. This is an intense 12 week exercise program for one hour at six each morning. Mississippi ranks first in the nation in adult obesity and second in cardiovascular disease, mortality from heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. Your state legislators are leading by example and challenging our fellow residents across the state to exercise and change one’s lifestyle to exemplify a healthier Mississippi. . I am happy to let you know that last week it was announced that I was the Fit 4 Change “Overall Legislator Winner” for the most percent of weight lost.

Sen. Haskins Montgomery

Senate District 34



 

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March 25, 2011
by SCR
Mar 30, 2011 | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

The Senate agreed with the House on changes to Senate Bill 2196 that will cause riders of ATVs who are 16 and under to wear helmets while on public rights of way. The bill is headed to the Governor for his possible approval. It is thought that the bill could save many lives and prevent injuries since the majority of accidents reported involve minors.

The Senate amended and passed House bill 1463 to issue bonds for the construction of a civil rights museum and a state history museum. The bonds would finance $30 million in construction costs. A $15 million match from the private sector will still be required.

House changes Senate Bill 2914 were agreed to. The bill will prohibit restaurants from misrepresenting the origin of crawfish and shrimp.

The Senate remains in conference on several other bills some include:

•Senate Bill 2490 that provides a procedure to follow when the only candidate for a judicial office dies, resigns, or  is disqualified.

• Senate Bill 2913, a budget transfer bill.

• Senate Bill 2838, a bill that would allow county supervisors to bury dead poultry in emergency situations.

•Senate Bill 2557, a bill that would establish a program allowing high school students who will not pursue a bachelors degree to graduate with a diploma and credits toward community college certification in a vocational-technical course of study.

The Senate and House agreed on a conference report on Senate Bill 2472 “Nathan’s Law.” The law will increase criminal punishments for those who pass stopped school buses.

The Senate approved a number of appointments to boards and agencies and passed a number of commendatory resolutions. Senators also greeted U. S. Secretary of the Navy and former Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus, who addressed the body from the podium.

Several local and private bills were passed that, if approved by the House and Governor, will enable some cities and counties at their request to donate to various organizations or establish foundations.

This week Senators spent most of their time in conferences discussing revenue, appropriations and general legislation.  Senate and House members are working together in conference to reach a compromise, so that we can file a conference report for the full body to vote up or down. Many of our appropriations bills are in conference and this will make up our budget. 

The redistricting issue is still unsettled. At this time there is a lot of uncertainty on what will be the next move to complete the redistricting process. It is important to resolve this soon to be able to meet the deadline for this year’s regular election.         Sen. Haskins Montgomery

Senate District 34

 

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February 18, 2011
by SCR
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The Senate this week passed a number of appropriations bills including Senate Bill 3042 that funds community and junior colleges at the current level for the 2012 fiscal year. We passed an amendment on the floor to add 15 million to their budget to make this possible. Due to today’s economic times our community and junior college enrollment has seen a significant increase. 

The Senate approved $26.8 million in funding for student financial aid, which was nearly the same amount received in the current year.

Senators said the educational system, in particular the vocational and technical training offered at junior and community colleges have been crucial tools in Mississippi’s ability to draw manufacturers to Mississippi. Also this is an important resource to help those that have lost their jobs become retrained and employed in today’s  work force. 

Because the state has yet to fully recover from the financial woes that saw tax revenues plummet, many budgets took some degree of cuts as lawmakers wait for revenue levels to stabilize.

Overall funding for the Department of Public Safety, which includes the Highway Patrol decreased just 4.3 percent.

Also passed was House Bill 455 that would cap fees at $20 for every $100 cash received for checks written up to $250 from pay day lenders. Among the changes included in the bill would be extending the repayment time for loans over $300 from two weeks to 28 to 30 days. This bill goes next to the Governor for his approval. This was a compromise and hopefully this bill will make some improvement in the payday lending industry.  

The appropriation bills will now go to the House for their consideration and will likely be discussed in conference.

Last week marked the mid point of this 90 day session. This week Wednesday, February 23 will be the deadline for original floor action on appropriations and revenue bills originating in the Senate.

Sen Haskins Montgomery

Senate District 34

 

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March 11, 2011
by SCR
Mar 16, 2011 | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

  This week the Senate passed House Bill 924 that approved creation of The Council on Combating Obesity in Mississippi that would work to identify the causes of obesity within the state. Mississippi is currently the most obese state in the nation, with more than 33-percent of adults fitting the category. Obesity has been linked to many diseases including diabetes and heart disease, the treatments of which have caused states including ours, to incur rising costs under public programs like Medicaid. The long term goal of the council will be finding ways to decrease the level of obesity in hopes of developing a healthier population.

Approval of House Bill 868 will allow the Department of Health to seek federal grants to implement a flu vaccination program in schools for children aged 5-18.

House Bill 620 authorized several state agencies to develop a strategy that will eventually force all drivers to show proof of liability insurance coverage, giving tax assessors and collectors the ability to deny tags to those whose names don’t show up in an electronic database. It also adds various punishments for non-compliance.

The Senate passed House Bill 1494 on a vote of 25 to 22. The bill was amended on the floor to add $90.5 million to K-12 education funding. Citing teacher cuts, rising fuel prices and overall financial pinch on schools across the state, Senators agreed to pass a $2.3 billion budget for education. The bulk of it, roughly $2 billion earmarked for the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, is the main funding source for school districts. The Senate also passed a technical amendment that means the bill is headed to a conference committee of House and Senate budget writers. This is unusual because the Senate and House position are the same amount but going to conference.

Some Other bills that passed include:

•House Bill 881 that will allow coroners to carry weapons and to allow retired district attorneys, their assistants and their investigators to retain their duty weapons upon retirement.

•House Bill 420 seeks to allow juvenile offenders to be sentenced to the intensive supervision program administered by the Department of Human Services.

•House Bill 827 will require out of state pharmacies to obtain the signature of someone 18 years or older when shipping any controlled substances to a Mississippi resident. It also requires that the pharmacy be registered with the state Board of Pharmacy.

• After a long debate Joint Resolution 201 approved the Senate’s redistricting proposal. The Senate by a strong vote rejected the Bryant alternative plan. The original proposal pushed by Joint Reapportionment Committee Co-Chairman Sen. Terry Burton in the end was supported by all but seven Senators. The plan is said by some to be fair to both Democrats and Republicans. Others say it favors Republicans in some cases but it does create one more majority black district. It was drawn with assistance from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review.  This plan does not make major changes in our Senate District.

These bills will either go to the Governor for his consideration or will be subject to further discussion between House and Senate members in conference committees.

 

Senator Haskins Montgomery

Senate District 34

 

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March 4, 2011
by SCR
Mar 11, 2011 | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

This week the Senate passed legislation meant to protect consumers by requiring commercial buyers of gold and silver to obtain permits and a permanent storefront.

Some lawmakers voiced concerns that not all traveling buyers who run newspaper ads and conduct business out of hotel rooms may be dealing honestly with sellers of precious metals.

The requirements of House Bill 1195 seek to make buyers more accountable. It exempts transactions done at private homes.

House Bill 1205 was adopted as a means of covering a larger variety of possible chemical combinations used to make the synthetic street drug called “bath salts,” or “plant food.”

It is a companion to Senate Bill 2226, which seeks to outlaw the sale or possession of the substance that currently is sold at convenience stores.

The Senate passed House Bill 641 that creates harsher criminal penalties for teachers who engage in sexual misconduct with students.  It also provides for suspension or revocation of the teacher or administrator’s license for inappropriate behavior. It forces school superintendents to report the misconduct to the local district attorney.

House Bill 204 will allow county boards of supervisors to perform drainage work on private property, which could help some counties to stabilize aging subdivisions. 

Other bills passed and their intent, included:

House Bill 1158 will turn over total control and management of Veterans Memorial Stadium to Jackson State University, which now plays their home games there.

House Bill 552 will make it a criminal offense to impersonate a person online. Those convicted of the crime would face a fine of $250 to $1,000 and up to a year in prison.

House Bill 636 that requires home schooled children and others who seek entry into public schools, to be tested for grade and class placement.

House Bill 999 will mandate school districts adopt sex education policies in hopes that it reduces teenage pregnancy and the rise of sexually transmitted diseases.

House Bill 652 will make Mississippi’s organic certification program conform to federal standards.

House Bill 1340 will create the offense of attempted murder, which Mississippi law currently lacks.

Some bills will be transmitted back to the House for further discussion while others are headed to the Governor for his possible approval.

Wednesday, March 9, the 65th day of this session, is the deadline for original floor action of the Senate on general bills and constitutional amendments originating in the House of Representatives. We are hopeful a redistricting plan can be adopted by both the House and Senate this week.



Senator Haskins Montgomery

Senate District 34

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February 18, 2011
by SCR
Feb 25, 2011 | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Mississippi Senate Report
The Senate this week passed a number of appropriations bills including Senate Bill 3042 that funds community and junior colleges at the current level for the 2012 fiscal year. We passed an amendment on the floor to add 15 million to their budget to make this possible. Due to today’s economic times our community and junior colleges enrollment has seen a significant increase. 
The Senate approved $26.8 million in funding for student financial aid, which was nearly the same amount received in the current year.
Senators said the educational system, in particular the vocational and technical training offered at junior and community colleges have been crucial tools in Mississippi’s ability to draw manufacturers to Mississippi. Also this is an important resource to help those that have lost their jobs become retrained and employed in today work force. 
Because the state has yet to fully recover from the financial woes that saw tax revenues plummet, many budgets took some degree of cuts as lawmakers wait for revenue levels to stabilize.
Overall funding for the Department of Public Safety, which includes the Highway Patrol decreased just 4.3 percent.
Also passed was House Bill 455 that would cap fees at $20 for every $100 cash received for checks written up to $250 from pay day lenders. Among the changes included in the bill would be extending the repayment time for loans over $300 from two weeks to 28 to 30 days. This bill goes next to the Governor for his approval. This was a compromise and hopefully this bill will make some improvement in the pay day lending industry.  
The appropriation bills will now go to the House for their consideration and will likely be discussed in conference.
Last week marked the mid point of this 90 day session. This week Wednesday, February 23 will be the deadline for original floor action on appropriations and revenue bills originating in the Senate.
Senator Haskins Montgomery
Senate District 34


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February 11, 2011
by SCR
Feb 16, 2011 | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
The Senate this week passed Senate Bill 2139 that will encourage home ownership by offering a $1,000 tax credit for first time home buyers.
Also passed was Senate Bill 2742 that will allow cities and counties to save money by being able to keep well maintained fire trucks in service for a longer time than the 10-15 years that they are normally kept before being traded for newer models.
Senate Bill 2127 will make the malicious mistreatment or torture of  an animal a felony crime. A companion measure, Senate Bill 2821, makes it a felony to mistreat, hurt or kill in a malicious manner, any dog or cat.
Senate Bill 2774 will allow the creation of Charter Schools that will have the freedom to adjust curriculums and teaching methods to boost student academic performance. The schools will be eligible to receive federal funding and will have to show proof of their performance.
Senate Bill 2053 will require drivers to show proof of liability insurance before being able to purchase tags.
Senate Bill 2847 allows universities to pay the travel expenses of potential job candidates in an effort to recruit the best employees possible. 
Other bills passed include:
Senate Bill 2032 that will require registered sex offenders to comply with federal law, which includes registering with law enforcement the types of vehicles that they drive.
Senate Bill 2196 seeks to increases safety standards for ATV operators. Among its provisions is requiring users to have drivers license or a certificate from the Cooperative Extension Service proving they have completed a safety training course. The course will cost $25.
Senate Bill 2597 sets criminal penalties for adults who allow minors to consume or possess alcohol at parties held at their homes or elsewhere.
Senate Bill 2287 seeks to allow early release for critically ill non-violent state inmates. The measure could save the state more than $1 million a year being paid to maintain the health of those inmates.
Senate Bill 2631 will establish a taskforce to find ways of increasing teacher salaries as a means of recruiting more talented and dedicated classroom instructors. The average starting salary for Mississippi teachers is $30,900. 
This is an overview of some bills passed by the Senate this week. Over 250 bills were considered on the floor of the Senate this week. Next week we will be busy in Senate committees considering appropriations and revenue bills. 
          Senator Haskins Montgomery
Senate District 34


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February 4, 2011
by SCR
Feb 11, 2011 | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Mississippi Senate Report
February 4, 2011
This week Senate Bill 2301, The Mississippi Strategic Planning and Performance Budget System Act of 2011, was passed.
The bill is designed to make agencies more accountable for how they spend their budgets and will have them to justify expenditures.
A number of education bills also cleared the floor including Senate Bill 2392 that sets out stiff administrative consequences for teachers and other school personnel who engage in inappropriate behavior with students.
Another measure that helps schools, Senate Bill 2511 will allow school boards to auction the popular 16th Section hunting leases in an effort to raise more funds.
Senate Bill 2793 was passed that will ban text messaging by drivers. It is expected the bill will undergo changes once it is placed in committee where senators and representatives will work to refine it.
All bills passed must next go to the House of Representatives for their approval.
Other bills passed include:
Senate Bill 2516 that provides enhanced criminal penalties against persons who intentionally hurt expectant mothers resulting in injuries or death to the unborn child. The bill states that life within the mother begins at conception.
Senate Bill 2469 will increase the areas in which concealed weapons can be carried by holders of concealed carry permits.
Senate Bill 2530 will allow deer breeding farms to be established throughout the state as a means of increasing revenue for landowners. 
Senate Bill 3289 will require homeschooled students to be tested for grade assignment before being placed into the public school system.
Senate Bill 2152 would ensure that anyone receiving public assistance must be a legal citizen of the United States.
Senate Bill 2192 seeks to require flashing safety lights on trucks hauling timber when the load extends a certain length beyond the rear of the trailer.
Senate Bill 2450 seeks to have the state’s organic certification program mirror that of the USDA National Organic Program.
The deadline for floor action on general bills and constitutional amendments joriginating in the Senate will be Thursday, February 10. This will be a busy week taking up bills for floor action in the senate. Contact information is: e-mail hmontgomery@senate.ms..gov, or telephone 601-359-3244.
 Senator Haskins Montgomery
Senate District 34


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