Zeb Hughes Law moves closer to helping Mississippi families

Published 1:35 pm Wednesday, April 17, 2024

JACKSON — Zeb Hughes Law is headed to the governor’s desk. A week ago, Lincoln County Sen. Jason Barrett introduced an amendment to House Bill 1068 to include the Zeb Hughes Law after its original bill died in a senate committee. Mississippi’s House voted 115-0 to pass the bill Wednesday morning. 

Barrett’s amendment came after Lincoln County Rep. Becky Currie’s House Bill 80 died in the senate Judiciary A committee without a vote. His amendment would allow someone to petition a court of competent jurisdiction and prove by clear and convincing evidence that their loved one was in fact deceased and could approve a death certificate accordingly. 

Under the amendment, the petition to the court for a death certificate could not be considered until 2 years after the catastrophic event. 

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Currie said after the bill was amended in the senate she took it to House Chairman of Public Health Sam Creekmoore IV. She asked him if they could get the bill to pass Wednesday and Creekmoore took it to the house floor. 

A legislator explained to the House they had already passed HB1068 and HB80 unanimously Wednesday morning. No questions were asked about the amendment and the body voted unanimously to pass the bill. 

“I’m proud for Sharon Hughes, to get this over with and no more stress for her,” Currie said. “She can go on with her life. I hope the bill gets her some relief for and other families.” 

Sharon Hughes, Zeb’s mother, watched the bill pass Wednesday. She reached out to The Daily Leader with the good news. 

“I am trusting the Lord to guide Governor Reeves to sign the bill when it is presented to him for signature,” Hughes said. “I can’t imagine him not doing so after 115 members of the Mississippi Legislature have all voted yes numerous times to pass it, and because of what the significance of this change will mean to families who have or will experience what we have experienced.” 

Zeb Hughes is one of two local duck hunters who went missing on the Mississippi River near Vicksburg on December 3, 2020. Zeb was from Wesson and the other missing hunter is Gunner Palmer of Hazlehurst. They had set out to scout for ducks on the Mississippi River but never made it back home. Their boat and some hunting equipment was found in the search efforts after their disappearance. Zeb’s dog Kye died in the accident on the Mississippi River as well. His other dog Delta is a comfort for his mother Sharon Hughes. 

Sharon Hughes thanked God for his faithfulness in the legislation passing. A statement on her Facebook page gave glory to God and mentioned the trust she had in God the night Zeb went missing and the trust she has had in the legislative process.. She said once the bill goes into effect on July 1, her next step will be to educate others. 

“My next goal will be to make it known to the residents of Mississippi that this change has occurred so that others in a situation like Zeb and Gunner’s family can start the process to obtain a death certificate,” Sharon Hughes said. 

Currie said it was not a surprise the legislature was able to get the Zeb Hughes law passed. It worked out to where no one was upset about the changes to HB1068. She explained sometimes legislators do not like when an amendment is tacked on to their bill. 

“This was a case where no one was upset about it. I think it got overlooked in the senate the first time. They were all helpful to find an avenue,” Currie said. “It is a good day for legislation. It feels good to help people. The first try on a bill it rarely gets through. It made it with the help of a lot of people.”