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Deadline has passed for new bills

By ANDY GIPSON,

Because it is early in the session, most legislative work is currently happening in committees where bills must be approved before they are introduced to the House as a whole. The deadline for bills to be filed is Monday, Jan. 15, so many committees are waiting until all bills are filed to hold meetings.

Only one bill made it out of committee to be introduced to the House this week. In yet another effort to improve the state’s infrastructure, House Bill 722 would ensure that 35 percent of the use tax collected by the Department of Revenue would be distributed for the repair, maintenance and reconstruction of roads, streets and bridges. The 35 percent would be split three ways, with 15 percent given to municipalities, 15 percent given to counties and five percent given to a grant program administered by the Mississippi Development Authority to assist the municipalities and counties with improvements. Overall, this would mean that approximately $108 million would be dedicated solely to improving the state’s infrastructure. The bill passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 118-0, and will now be sent to the Senate for consideration.

Additionally, last week’s infrastructure-related legislation, House Bill 354 and House Bill 357, were sent to the Senate.

On Tuesday, Governor Phil Bryant delivered the State of the State address, where he talked about job growth, education, the opioid epidemic and the Mississippi Bicentennial. EdBuild, the consulting group hired last year to revamp the state’s education funding formula, also visited legislators this week to further discuss their recommendations.

Groups from across the state that visited the Capitol included members of the Mississippi Municipal League, the Mississippi Board of Nursing and a number of Mississippi’s fire chiefs from different areas of the state.