° empty

Avenue cleared for abandoned structures

Last week we passed House Bill 1096 that will allow cities to clean up abandoned blighted properties in commercial and residential corridors by dropping the $20,000 cap currently in place to allow for removal of asbestos when needed.

The bill would be helpful in areas where abandoned older structures exist, yet owners have been slow to repair them or tear them down.

We also passed House Bill 504 using Senate language to authorize a teacher pay increase that raises starting pay to $34,390 by July 2015, gives a $1,500 raise in July 2014 and a $1,000 boost in July 2015. The plan would also reward teachers at schools that show academic improvement each year under the School Recognition Program implemented in fiscal year 2017.

We passed Senate Bill 2918 that will allow the City of Greenwood to donate 27 Katrina cottages with one to three bedrooms to the Greenwood-Leflore Center for Housing Inc., a non-profit, which would use them to house needy, low-income and elderly residents.

Our passage of House Bill 484 would ban text messaging by any drivers regardless of age and assigns a charge of careless driving to violators.

The House will have to reconsider some bills.

Other bills passed included:

• House Bill 864 prohibits the transportation of wild hogs.

• House Bill 756 requires the commissioner of insurance to establish uniform deductibles for companies selling hurricane insurance policies.

• House Bill 1185 raises the number of municipal judges that cities with populations over 50,000 can employ.

• House Bill 585 that makes changes in the criminal justice system in order to save money as incarceration rates increase.

 Kelvin E. Butler is senator of the 38th District and serves portions of Adams, Amite, Pike, Walthall and Wilkinson counties.