Senate bill about drug courts signed

Published 12:17 am Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Senate last week placed a number of bills in conference to work out differences with the House of Representatives, seeking compromises on many bills aimed at protecting citizens.

Senators also took time to honor common Mississippians whose contributions to the state, their communities and to their craft have brought them deserved recognition from their peers.

Among the bills in conference committee is Senate Bill 2712 — “Miss Breland’s Law” — that seeks to increase by five years the prison term of persons convicted of using financial information or other documents obtained from a crime victim. The House amendment seeks to lessen the sentence.

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And the Senate saw some victories when the governor signed several measures including Senate Bill 2246 that encourages municipalities to increase the number of drug courts, a move that could help lower the amount of money the state spends on incarcerating inmates, and Senate Bill 2124 that makes lawyers in the future disclose that their legal services do not constitute debt management, which consumers might assume when dealing with certain attorneys during bankruptcy proceedings.

Senators are still in negotiation over how to fully fund Medicaid and are in conference on S.B. 3051, which gives the Senate’s desired breakdown of spending for that division. But the financial forecast is tough, as the revenue estimating group recommended lowering the state’s fiscal year 2009 general fund revenue estimate by $18.9 million, dropping it from $5,076,000,000 to $5,057,100,000.

Medicaid faces an almost $100 million shortfall this fiscal year. Medicaid will need more than $160 million for fiscal year 2009. Many senators met across the weekend in conference to figure out how to best fund it. The session is expected to end April 19.

In the spirit of recognizing community leaders, deserving citizens and unsung heroes, the Senate presented the following resolutions:

4Senate Concurrent Resolution 628, commended the many sworn officers and other personnel of the Department of Public Safety who have served in the United States Armed Services.

4 Senate Concurrent Resolution 583 was presented to Mississippi State University Head Football Coach Sylvester Croom. It praised the team’s winning season that ended with a Liberty Bowl victory over the University of Central Florida and its triumphs over such national foes as Kentucky and Alabama. Croom was the consensus Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year, named the Grant Teaff National Coach of the Year by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the American Football Coaches Association Region 2 Coach of the Year and finalist for the Paul Bear Bryant Coach of the Year Award. Croom had several players who likewise reaped high honors during the winning season.

Sen. Bob Dearing represents Adams County in the Mississippi Senate.