Rep. Dana Criswell - From Your Capitol, Week of February 5, 2018
The Mississippi House of Representatives spent much of this past week debating and voting on bills. Thursday, February 8 was the deadline for representatives to discuss House Bills. Any bills that were not discussed by Thursday died on the calendar.
I'm often asked how I make my decision to vote for or against a bill and if I read every bill before I cast my vote. It's a good question and one that has taken me a couple of years to develop a system that allows me to make informed decisions and good votes.
This past summer I wrote about the importance of developing a clear set of principles and values by which I judge each piece of legislation. My principles of Individual Freedom, Limited Government, Lower Taxes, and the core value of God as our creator helps me evaluate each bill. But the question is how do I evaluate each bill when there are hundreds of them to read.
The process begins on day one of the legislative session as legislators begin "dropping" bills. As they appear on the Legislative website I first begin looking at bills that are assigned to committees on which I serve. Since I serve on the Education Committee I first read thorough all the titles of the bills. Often I can make my decision if I am for or against a bill simply by reading the title. Here is an example of one that I knew I would vote against by only reading the title; Compulsory school age; revise definition to include children who attain the age of five years before September 1. I do not support expanding the compulsory school age, I believe it infringes on the rights of parents and further removes children from the home where they should spend their formative years. So without reading the entire bill I know I'm a NO vote.
Another tool I use to help sort through the hundreds of bills is one provided by Rep. Joel Bomgar of Madison. Rep. Bomgar provides a summary of each bill and color codes the bill based on his guiding principles. While I don't always agree with his opinion the review and evaluations are a tremendous help as I sort through all the bills. You can see Rep. Bomgar's evaluations at www.calendarwithnotes.com.
Sometimes there is simply no other way to evaluate a bill other than sitting down and reading it. As I read the bill I try to continually evaluate the changes it proposes and if those changes move us closer to my core principles and values.
IS THAT A GUN IN HIS HAND!
One truth always emerges in the Mississippi House of Representatives, You never know what is about to happen! This past week during a discussion of HB1083, a bill that expands gun rights for citizens, Rep. Charles Younger waved his unloaded pistol around while speaking against the bill. I'm not sure what point he was trying to make but he did get a lot of attention. If you would like to read more about this bill and how you can help fight the forces of gun-control please read my article from last week.
Gun Owner's Under Attack
Here’s a look at some of the significant bills that were passed by the House this week:
HB 1344 improves the business climate in our state by removing regulations that prevent distilleries from selling their own products on site. While the state’s alcohol system is still heavily regulated and in need of more reform, this expands freedom for some businesses.
HB 1343 paves the way for the operation of automated vehicles by stating that certain traffic regulations don’t apply to automated vehicles. We should seek to reduce restrictions that prevent the development and deployment of new technology in our state.
HB 1036 reduces regulations on the state’s district schools. This bill modifies the compulsory attendance law to make it easier for students who participate in extracurricular activities to meet attendance requirements.
HB 1418 aims to reduce government bureaucracy by requiring the legislative PEER committee to conduct a detailed review of state agencies and their missions. The goal is to identify agencies no longer needed to accomplish their stated mission and to reduce the size of state government.
VISITING YOUR CAPITOL
Its always good to see folks from Desoto County visiting our capitol. This week the Desoto County House and Senate delegation visited with Chancery Court Clerk Misty Heffner and Mary Jane Thaxton of the chancery court clerk's office. I am proud to say that Desoto County has some of the best elected official in the state. It's not an accident that our county is one of the best places to live in the mid-south.