Representative Dana Criswell - At Your Capitol, Week of February 22
The last week of February was a very interesting week in Jackson. We began the week with a flurry of committee meetings and ended with the House Democrat Black Caucus preventing debate and delaying progress of the House.
Tuesday, February 23, was the deadline for general bills to clear committee and make it onto the calendar for consideration by the House. There were over 2000 bills submitted by house members that had to be vetted and discussed by a committee. Some of these bills died because even its author didn't care enough about the bills to fight for its survival, while others died because after discussion and debate within the committee it simply didn't have enough support to survive. Keeping a bill alive is a difficult process that requires the bill author to convince other members and committee chairmen to support their bill.
This year I was the principle author of five bills;
HB 985 Parental Authority Act; create. 02/23 (H) Died In Committee
HB1346 MS Constitutional Carry and Citizens Self-Defense Act; create. 02/23 (H) Died In Committee
HB1352 Firearms; remove license requirement to carry concealed in a holster on a person's body. 02/23 (H) Died In Committee
HB1541 State and United States flag; require state universities to display when in session. 02/23 (H) Died In Committee
HC 49 Constitution; amend to provide that parents have a fundamental right to direct the upbringing, education and care of their children. 02/23 (H) Died In Committee
Two of my bills, HB1346 and HB1352, were bills that attempted to remove restrictions on Mississippi residents right to carry a firearm for self-defense.
HB1346, the Mississippi Constitutional Carry and Citizens Self-Defense Act was a large bill that would have cleaned up and rewritten much of Mississippi's gun laws. As many of you know, our gun laws are a hodgepodge of laws that can often be confusing and left to a court's interpretation. This legislation was an attempt to remove many of the restrictions on our ability to carry a firearm for self-defense.
HB1352 simply added the ability to carry a firearm without a permit in a holster on your belt. While this bill died in committee I was able to work with Rep. Andy Gipson and have similar language included in HB786, the Church Protection Act, if this bill passes the senate and is signed by the governor it will expand last years purse carry provision to include a firearm carried in a belt or shoulder holster.
I had been hopeful that, HB1541 would survive, but no flag bill of any kind made it through the committee process. Even though no legislation on the state flag survived, I've not seen any support among house members to dictate to the people of this state what flag they should fly. The people of Mississippi choose the current flag in 2001 and very few legislators believe they have the right to overturn a decision made by the people. My bill would have required state funded universities fly the state flag, but that goal can still be accomplished by efforts of citizens.
I also submitted two bills designed to protect parental rights. I believe there is nothing more sacred than the right of a parent to direct the upbringing of their child. God chooses a child's parents and we must protect that relationship. My bills would have placed into law that fundamental right. Whether it's medical decisions, educational decisions, or decisions about religion I will continue to fight to keep the government out of that relationship.
I will continue to study and re-write my legislation that failed this year and fight for them next.
Democrats Prevent Debate
The Democrat Black Caucus is mad because they are not in power, but they still want to be treated like they are in control.
This week they acted on their anger and began using tactics to delay the debate process. The house rules say, that any member can have a bill read aloud on the house floor. This rule has been in place since the 1800s because at that time there were no copy machines and often only one or two copies of a bill and some members could not read. The Black Caucus asked to have a 431 page bill read aloud, it took a reading machine over 7 hours to read the bill, then they asked for another bill to be read. It became apparent that they intended to have every bill read aloud, delaying debate beyond the deadline of March 3rd.
The next thing they tried was taking a point of personal privilege to speak. When a member asks to speak on a point of personal privilege he can hold up the House for as long as he wants to speak. The black democrat caucus indicated they would do that on every bill. So the House voted to remove that privilege from the house rules.
No debate has been prevented by the house leadership and no member lost their ability to speak for or against a bill.
Late Friday afternoon, Speaker Gunn announce that he had negotiated an agreement with the Democrat Black Caucus and they were going to abandon their delay tactics and rejoin the House in the legislative process.
Visiting Your Capitol
I am proud to support the moms who are fighting to protect their children against harmful vaccines. Vaccines have helped our nation and prevented the outbreak of many diseases but they can also cause harm.
Some children, because of genetics or medical conditions are put in danger because the Mississippi the department of health often overrides the advice of the child's doctor. Under current law the department of health can, and often does, require a child to be vaccinated against the recommendation of a doctor.
I support HB938 because it returns power to our doctors without coercion and erroneous oversight of government bureaucrats at the state health department.
To learn more and join this fight for parental rights go to; www.MPVR.org
Thursday morning the Desoto County delegation was honored to have breakfast and spend time with students from both DeSoto and Marshall counties.
These students were selected as ambassadors for the Electric Power Associations and are learning about both state and federal government through visits to Jackson this week and Washington DC later. It was an honor to spend time with them this week.