It’s a hectic time in the Mississippi Legislature as lawmakers scramble to meet various deadlines, and the pieces begin to fall into place on multiple bills.
On today’s episode, Daily Journal Capitol Bureau chief Bobby Harrison (3:27) has an update on several issues – budget work, bills giving the governor more control and the latest on the education funding process.
For one, lawmakers are beginning the process of putting together a new state budget (7:30), although they’re facing more pressure than usual as revenue collections remain slow.
Meanwhile, efforts to follow the recommendation of Ed Build to change the school funding formula died for the current session (14:31). But they won’t be dead for long, as House Speaker Philip Gunn indicated a special session likely will be called soon to deal with that issue.
Legislators also considered several bills that would expand the governor’s power by giving him direct oversight of some boards and agencies (19:36). Some of those passed, and some didn’t.
The next big issue lawmakers will tackle will be a proposal that will require all internet retailers to collect a 7 percent tax on items sold and send that to the state. The proposal has passed the House and now moves to the Senate. It appears to be this year’s only vehicle to fund needed road and bridge repairs.
Also on today’s episode, local government reporter Caleb Bedillion (27:18) has an update on some of the recommendations to emerge from last fall’s working groups designed to improve community engagement.
City officials had said they would present a plan for a police advisory board to the city council by the end of the year. That has not happened yet, but city leaders say it will happen soon. They have been working to expand the recommendations made by a working group and to balance competing interests.
Meanwhile, the mayor has acted on some of the recommendations such as creating the position of a community outreach coordinator and redefining the roles of the neighborhood coordinator. The city has also begin efforts to diversify its hiring and improve community policing efforts.
Also, Daily Journal education reporter Emma Kent (37:19) will discuss the plans of a couple of Lee County schools to improve test scores.
The Lee County School Board approved “School at Risk” action plans for Plantersville and Shannon middle schools at its Tuesday meeting. The plans outline changes the schools must make to improve testing outcomes for students and their overall accountability letter grades. Both schools were rated “F” in 2016.