The Mississippi Legislature is heading back to session this week. There are many issues state leaders will review.
First let's begin with the Open Meetings Act. A proposed bill that would have made government officials pay their own fines for violating this Act was allowed to die on the House calendar. What does this mean? Well, the entire Senate and the entire House approved the bill. It was then blocked by a committee chairman who allegedly did not like the change. It's a change that Representative Greg Snowden of District 83 believes was needed.
"Under current law violators don't have to pay the fines, actually the public body has to pay. Which is to say the taxpayers pay it, which is I think ridiculous because the taxpayers in fact are the victims of open meetings violations," says Representative Snowden.
Representative Snowden proposed the amendment that would've made violators of the act pay. He says taxpayers should not pay for another's mistake.
"If board members violated the law, knowing they should not be doing what they are doing then they ought to pay any fines that are imposed and that's what my amendment would have done."
This bill is now dead, but there are other issues still circulating. Many revolve around the state's educational system. One cost cutting idea is furloughing teachers.
"Hopefully it doesn't come to that, but that's preferable to having to release teachers or terminate teachers. So hopefully this will be a budget proposal that if it's necessary it will be one of the least drastic things we can do," explains Representative Snowden.
Another budget related topic is the length of the school year for Mississippi schools. There's a proposal to shorten the school year from 180 instructional days to 175.
"That would not have the effect of saving a lot of money as I understand it because basically it would not change personnel cost. It would perhaps provide some relief from operational costs."
And relief is what the state and much of our country are looking for in these slow economic times.
"Times are so tough, we are talking about things that we normally wouldn't give a second thought, but because of the budget situation we are having to look at just about everything," says Snowden.