Representatives reflect on 2024 legislative session

Published 8:00 am Saturday, May 18, 2024

Editors note: This is the first of several stories from Brookhaven’s legislative session. Check back for further stories in the series.

BROOKHAVEN — Sen. Jason Barrett went first to reflect on the 2024 legislative session at the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce legislative breakfast Thursday morning. Barrett was able to help pass the Zeb Hughes Law and saw a version of his squatted vehicle ban pass. 

He stepped up to the microphone and mentioned the squatted vehicle ban first. A house version of the bill was recently signed into law by Gov. Tate Reeves. It was a bill he introduced in the senate initially.  

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“It is what I’m most known for and hated for in the teen community,” Barrett said. “At the end of the day it was all about safety.” 

The passage of the Zeb Hughes Law as something he was proud to be a part of after Rep. Becky Currie worked hard on the bill in the house. It took a team effort to get the law passed. The bill passed unanimously. 

“It is crazy how a bill could die one day and pass the next,” Barrett said. 

Currie said the family of Gunner Palmer, Gunner went missing on the Mississippi River with Zeb Hughes, did not want the name Palmer to be included in the Zeb Hughes Law. The process to get the bill passed was not easy and she almost made it harder on herself. 

“They say making sausage isn’t pretty. I killed a bill in corrections and when Zeb went to the senate I called Barrett and told him ‘I think I’m in trouble,’” Currie said. “The bill died but Barrett found a different bill containing code pertaining to death certificates. It wasn’t the pretty bill I had envisioned. We got it passed and I hope it helps.” 


He mentioned the SAFER Act being passed. Barrett said a lot of politics were at play this session but Legislators were able to come together to pass the SAFER Act to “protect young people.” 

Mississippi’s American Civil Liberties Union states the SAFER Act would affect transgender people. Currie stated the bill would make sure women have safe places. 

Barrett stated the SAFER Act simply states there are two sexes, male and female. 

Females under the bill are defined as someone who naturally has, had, will have or would have but for a developmental or genetic anomaly or historical accident, the reproductive system that produces eggs. 

Males under the bill are defined as someone who naturally has, had, will have or would have but for a developmental or genetic anomaly or historical accident, the reproductive system that produces sperm. 

The bill’s language states restrooms, educational housing spaces, changing facilities are for exclusively male or female use. Family-use restrooms or single use restrooms are exempt. Parents are able to assist or chaperone a child under the age of 12, a vulnerable person or a person with disabilities. 

Emergency response, custodial and government services are exempt from this rule in carrying out the duties of their job.  

Other bills

Barrett said they were able to secure $750,000 for Brookhaven’s boulevard project. Education was a concern and legislators got a new formula bill passed for public schools. 

Co-Lin was able to get $2.6 million in funding. 

“They need more. We have a lot of work to do there,” Currie said. 

Mississippi is working on judicial redistricting with Barrett playing a role. The redistricting work died after three months of work but he suspects it will be brought up next year. 

Rep. Vince Mangold is on the Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, Ag and Ethics committees and gave a brief reflection on his time in Jackson. He mentioned one bill passed which was dear to him. Mangold was a little misty eyed while talking about it. 

“I was part of a Rural Veterinarian Scholarship Program bill,” Mangold said. “Mac Huddleston was my friend and he passed away last August. MSU wanted to do something in his honor and we came up with a scholarship program. Vet school is not cheap. They are putting enough money in to do two scholarships. That was a big one for me.”