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The past few weeks in the House have been contradictory. Week before last was very productive, with the House rushing through committees, going through dozens of bills sent over from the Senate. In all, 91 Senate bills made it through House committees. These bills were then placed on the House calendar, where they must pass by Wednesday, March 30, to survive.
Progress this past week, however, was slowed to a crawl. Beginning Wednesday, March 23, some House members began requesting that every bill be read aloud in its entirety before being voted on. A constitutional provision from 1890 allows that any member may request the bill be read aloud before a vote. The purpose then was to insure that illiterate members (not uncommon in 1890) could understand each bill. Now, in 2016, no members are illiterate—to my knowledge—but instead are using this tool to stall legislation. Waiting for every bill (some dozens of pages long) to be read aloud has slowed work in the House, and many bills are left on the calendar and will die unless passed before March 30.
Even with progress stalled, many bills have been passed through the House. Some of importance include:
- Senate Bill 2146 would send back to municipalities a larger portion of the sales tax that their businesses collect. The bill requires municipalities to spend the increased funds on infrastructure projects.
- Senate Bill 2438 would require that all local superintendents of education be appointed after 2019, or when the elected superintendent’s term ends. Mississippi is one of only three states in the country that still elect superintendents. I had some concerns about the bill and voted against it, but it was supported by most Democrats and Republicans, and passed by a margin of 80-36.
- Senate Bill 2158 would revise the MAEP education funding formula to be based off of the overall number of students in each school, rather than off of the average attendance in each school. This should lead to an increase in funds for our local schools.
I’m optimistic that progress will pick back up and we will be able to get through all the Senate bills remaining on the calendar by Wednesday. As always, please contact me if I can be of assistance.
Rep. Noah Sanford represents parts of Covington, Simpson, and Jefferson Davis Counties in the Mississippi House of Representatives. He can be contacted at email@example.com or at 601-517-6622.