Outcome of animal cruetly bill disappointing

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 14, 2010

While I am disappointed that my measure, Senate Bill 3085, to create a felony charge for those who have a history of abusing cats and dogs, died in the House Agriculture Committee, I am pleased that it has sparked debate on the matter and has drawn many favorable responses. I am hopeful that in the future we are able to re-introduce the legislation and have it become law.

I think it’s crucial that we create a means of stopping the intentional mistreatment of defenseless animals who depend on humans for their care. Many of us think of our dogs and cats as members of our family and treat them as such. Maybe the citizens of Mississippi can ask their elected officials to support such a measure in the future.

Despite that, last week we approved changes to Senate Bill 2495 that restored $82 million to state agencies for the current fiscal year, including $37 million to K-12 education and $2 million that ensures National Board Certified teachers receive their $6,000 annual stipend.

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The bill also provides $16 million to the Department of Corrections to prevent mass layoffs, $1.49 million to district attorneys so they can continue to prosecute cases and $4 million to the Department of Mental Health. Another $4 million will be given to community and junior colleges.

We also approved House Bill 1170 that will allow school districts at their own discretion, to furlough personnel across the board for up to five non-instructional days. It gives districts the choice of reducing from 180 to 175, the number of school days, as a budgetary option in light of continually declining state revenues, which have caused the Governor to trim $458.5 million from the budget.

The Senate was more than blessed this week when we had the Rev. David O’Connor of St. Mary Basilica and Assumption Church here in Natchez, to deliver an opening prayer on Monday that set the tone for a productive week.

If you have any interest in any of the above bills, please contact me at 601-359-3244 or e-mail me at bdearing@senate.ms.gov.

Sen. Bob Dearing

Mississippi Senator and Natchez resident