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Local senator, reps get wins at gov.’s desk

Several of Sen. Sally Doty’s bills were approved by the governor this legislative session, including one that requires employers to notify parents or guardians of minors who are working with sex offenders.

The bill requires a convicted sex offender to notify his/her employer in writing of his offender status if the job requires direct, private and unsupervised contact with a minor.

The employer will then notify the parents or guardians of the minor. An employer acting in good faith in making notification to parents or guardians would not be held liable if they failed to do so, according to the bill.

“Protecting our children and other vulnerable persons such as the elderly and disabled is my No. 1 concern, but I also understand the role and importance of stable employment for rehabilitation of anyone convicted of a crime,” Doty, a Brookhaven Republican, told the media.

Doty’s bill that includes psychiatry students in the state’s Rural Physicians Scholarship Residency Program was also approved by Gov. Phil Bryant. Previously, those students were not permitted to participate in the program.

A bill Doty authored that allows the Mississippi School of the Arts to function more like a school and less like a large state agency was approved by the governor as well.

SB 2625 moves employees at MSA out from under the authority of the State Personnel Board. Currently, MSA is treated as a state agency and is subject to burdensome requirements more suited for a large agency, Doty said.

Employees’ insurance and benefits will not be impacted, she said. Contracts for teachers will be approved by state Board of Education.

The law will take effect in July 2020 to allow the school time to get employee contracts finalized.

Rep. Becky Currie authored bills that were added to other legislation and passed. Her idea for the creation of a mental health court system was added to a larger criminal justice reform bill and was passed. It was sent to the governor this week.

Her caller ID anti-spoofing bill ended up in a Senate version of the legislation that passed.

A bill she authored to allow hospice directors to dispense pain medication to terminally ill patients without having first seen the patient died in committee, but the state Board of Medical Licensure has agreed to change regulations to allow this, Currie said. She said lawmakers would follow up with the board in July to ensure compliance.

Rep. Vince Mangold’s bill authorizing bulk feed and wood pellet haulers to apply for a harvest permit was approved by the governor. His bill that bans the labeling of cultured animal tissue or plant- and insect-based food as “meat” ended up in a Senate bill that was approved by Bryant.