Budget, census work remain for lawmakers as session nears end
Published 6:00 am Monday, March 12, 2001
The 2001 legislative session is entering the home stretch withlawmakers still facing old budget concerns and getting new censuspopulation totals last week.
“We’re winding it down,” said Dist. 91 Rep. Joey Hudsonfollowing last week’s deadline for the House to act on generalbills that originated in the Senate and vice versa.
Budget-related matters continue to get their share of lawmakers’attention as the session winds toward its scheduled April 1conclusion.
“We’re still trying to deal with the budget problems, shortfallsand that sort of thing,” Hudson said. “We probably won’t know whatthat will look like until the end of the session.”
Dist. 92 Rep. Dr. Jim Barnett said he was going to bring up thecommunity college budget for action today.
“It’s not good,” Barnett said of the budget shortfall and schoolefforts to cope. “The community colleges have really, reallytried.”
Barnett said money for oil and gas severance tax would help witha projected $38 million shortfall. The money would give about $8million to the community colleges for work force training.
“That’s going to help some, but we’re still short,” Barnettsaid.
The state’s new population totals from the 2000 Census werereleased last week.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Barnett said of the totals. “I don’t knowwhat it’s going to do to redistricting.”
Lawmakers are expected to be called into special session laterthis year to deal with redrawing of congressional district lines.Hudson said population increases in the coastal areas and in northMississippi will have to be addressed as the state’s U.S.representative total goes from five to four.
“I don’t know how it’ll fall out. It’s too early to tell,”Hudson said.
Hudson did not foresee much change in the southwest Mississippiarea.
“I can’t see a lot of change here,” Hudson said.
Barnett said lawmakers are coming off a good week after passingseveral pieces of legislation in recent days. He mentioned morerules and regulations on the check-cashing industry, stifferpenalties for falsifying driver’s licenses and more trainingrequirements for conservation officers.
Barnett was also pleased with passage of the Mississippi SchoolSafety Act.
The law allows teachers to request that disruptive students beexpelled. Barnett said teachers were being disrespected and calledobscene names and the law was a “good thing” for them.
“In the past, they haven’t been able to do anything about it.Now they can,” Barnett said.
The bill has been sent back to the Senate for consideration ofHouse changes.