Rep. Dana Criswell - At Your Capitol, Week of March 28
Every week seems to hold another deadline, by Wednesday, House members needed to address all general, non-revenue bills received from the Senate. If a Senate bill was not taken up and passed by Wednesday, it died on the Calendar. The Senate faced the same deadline as they considered bills originating in the House.
When a bill is passed by one chamber, it goes to the other for consideration and vote. If the other chamber approves it exactly as they received it, then it goes to the Governor to be signed or vetoed. If, however, there is a single change (amendment) to the original bill, then it goes back to the original chamber to see if they approve (“concur”) with the changes. If they do not approve, it goes to “Conference.” The House appoints three members (generally from the original committee which considered the bill), and the Senate does the same. These 6 members then see if they can resolve the differences and arrive at a single version. If they can find a compromise, the bill goes back to each chamber for a simple up or down vote, with no ability to amend it. If they cannot agree, it dies.
Here are some of the bills voted on by the House;
SB 2161: expands school choice by allowing for students in lower-performing districts to cross district lines to attend charter schools. Every child deserves access to a quality education, and every parent deserves a choice in where their child attends school. I voted Yes, the bill passed 65-51.
SB 2374: establishes a study committee that will offer recommended changes to the state’s campaign finance laws. I voted Yes, the bill passed 92-24.
SB 2238: prevents Medicaid from reimbursing facilities that perform elective abortions. It includes a reverse repealer and cannot become law in its current form. I voted Yes, the bill passed 77-37.
Senate Bill 2493: establishes the Supporting and Strengthening Families Act. This legislation is designed to give families facing crises the ability to execute a power of attorney for voluntary guardianship for their children for a year. This does not impact parental rights. It provides parents a tool to be proactive before the Department of Human Services or the court systems become involved. Children would be placed with a family member or third party. The agency involved would require a full criminal background check on any third party. Children would be reunited with the parent once the parent's issue is resolved. I voted Yes. The bill passed by a vote of 118-0.
HB 1523: House members voted to concur with the Senate on the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,” by a vote of 69-44. I voted Yes.
There has been a lot of discussion about this bill and a lot of mis-information spread by those who oppose basic christian values. Here is some facts about what this bill does and what it does NOT do provided by the MS Center for Public Policy;
What HB 1523 does:
The Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act does:
Protects individuals and entities from being penalized by the state or local governments for their moral or religious beliefs that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.
Protects individuals and entities who believe that sexual relationships are properly reserved to such marriages -- such as a religious school that requires students and faculty to refrain from engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage.
Protects individuals and entities from being penalized for believing that "male" and "female" are biologically based.
Is supported by a majority (63 percent) of Miss. voters from both parties and every major demographic.
What HB 1523 does NOT do; The Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act does NOT:
Change the legal definition of marriage.
Hinder or slow the process for providing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Prevent the government from providing benefits or services authorized under state law.
Create a "license to discriminate."
The GAS TAX!
The discussion about our state's bridges and roads continued throughout the week. As a member of the House Transportation Committee I was involved in many of these discussions. There were many options discussed, including various ways to raise additional revenue. Everyone has heard the proposal of an increased gas tax, but there were many other options discussed. I am happy to say that Representatives from Desoto County were heavily involved in the discussions and participated by bringing several options to the table. We were also successful in expressing the concerns of citizens in Desoto County and their desires to make government more efficient instead of raising taxes.
We were successful in helping moving the discussion away from increased taxes to finding ways to make the Department of Transportation more efficient. Speaker Gunn and House Transportation Chairman Charles Busby are now considering the formation of a committee to study the issue before the 2017 legislative session. I believe this is the correct approach that will allow us to make better and more informed decisions next year.
Visiting Your Capitol
This week I was very happy to have Steve and Mora Wade visiting the capitol. Steve and Mora are active in the Convention of States and were at the capitol on Thursday informing legislators about this citizen lead movement.
The Convention of States is made up of citizens who are concerned for the future of our country because our federal government is becoming increasingly bloated, corrupt, reckless and invasive. As citizens we have a constitutional option. We can call a Convention of States to return the country to its original vision of a limited federal government that is of, by and for the people.
Learn more at www.conventionofstates.com