Thumbs up or thumbs down, we weigh in

Published 10:42 am Friday, February 3, 2017

There’s more legislative action happening in Jackson than most of us can keep up with — thousands of bills are filed and only a small percentage make it to a vote. But the decisions of lawmakers will affect the lives of all Mississippians.

Below is a roundup of some legislation authored by local lawmakers and a quick “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” on whether they should be passed.

• HB 348 would allow students to drink water on school buses. Thumbs down. The bill sounds like a good idea but enforcement issues at the local school level would be a nightmare. Would bus drivers have to inspect all bottled drinks to ensure they contain water? School districts would be better off providing students with time to stop by the water fountain before boarding a bus. We’re assuming athletic teams already are allowed to drink water on buses before and after games.

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• HB 489 would establish mental health courts, similar to drug courts. Thumbs up. It’s unclear how the courts would be funded, but something needs to be done to address the problem of those with mental illness ending up in the criminal court system.

• HB 905 would require school districts to adhere to a uniform accounting system for local, state and federal funds. It would also transfer audit powers to the State Board of Education. Thumbs down. Accountability is always a good thing, but we’re not sure local school districts need any more oversight from the state.

• HB 1447 would designate the Brookhaven Country Club as resort status so alcohol can be served in the clubhouse, restaurant and on the golf course. Toss-up. While the move would certainly help the profits of the country club, it’s a slippery slope. Other businesses may come to expect similar treatment from the Legislature.

• SB 2687 would allow in-person absentee voting on electronic machines. Thumbs up. Making voting easier is a worthy goal.

• SB 2689 would prohibit the personal use of campaign funds by elected officials. Thumbs up. This is long overdue.

• SB 2907 would  create the crimes of “sextortion” and “sexploitation.” Thumbs up. Laws must keep up with what’s happening in the real world.

For more information about these bills or other legislation, contact Rep. Becky Currie, Sen. Sally Doty or Rep. Vince Mangold. Their contact info is provided below.