Senate passes bill that will toughen penalties for school bomb threats

By TERRY C. BURTON,

This week we passed House Bill 766 that would enable the state Fair Commission to purchase property to its east when money becomes available.

The vacant buildings could provide expansion space for the fairgrounds.

We also passed House Bill 1390 that would create a voluntary whitetail deer and turkey harvest reporting system to allow hunters to inform officials with the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks of their harvest so 

state officials have a better idea on the populations of those game animals. It carries no penalty for not reporting.

Our passage of House Bill 1264 would create the Mississippi Terroristic Threats Law that allows a felony charge for those who call in threats to schools or officials. It would carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison. If the offender is a youth, the case would be handled in Youth Court as is typical unless a judge decided otherwise.

The passage of House Bill 1083 would allow school leaders the option to arm certain staff members and seek proper emergency response training through an approved course by the Department of Public Safety as a means of protecting life in an emergency until law enforcement arrives on campus.

We amended and passed House Bill 387, that would mandate court officials to not automatically jail persons who are legitimately unable to pay fines, restitution and court costs and would make parole eligible inmates who have served 25-percent of their sentence if they were not convicted of a violent crime, drug trafficking, sex crime or other crime that prohibits early release.

It also would direct the Legislative PEER Committee to conduct a one-time jail population census throughout the state and to create the Mississippi Sentencing Disparity Task Force as recommended by the Re-Entry council.

We passed a rules calendar that saluted some of our finest citizens and their contributions to the state.

Other bills passed included:

• House Bill 1510 that would ban abortions after 15 weeks of gestation.

• House Bill 1288 would authorize the Mississippi Forensics Laboratory to charge a $300 fee for certain analysis.

• House Bill 827 would give owners of mobile homes an avenue by which they could more easily seek mortgage loans on the structures and land like owners of conventional homes do.

• House Bill 354 creates an avenue for funding the Local Bridge Replacement Program.

• House Bill 1199 would authorize the Department of Finance and Administration to sell or lease 40 acres of land in Lamar County that belongs to the University of Southern Mississippi, but is not critical to the school’s future growth.

• House Bill 1041 would allow the Department of Marine Resources to extend from five years to 10 years, the valid time for governmental entity permits.

• House Bill 1096 would abolish inactive boards, commissions, councils and committees.

Terry Burton, R-Newton, represents Senate District 31. Call 601-359-3234 to contact Burton in Jackson.