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What’s happening in the Miss. Senate?

The Senate approved House changes to Senate Bill 2596 that make it illegal to drive a vehicle powered by nitrous oxide upon public streets and highways.

The bill will allow charges to be filed against anyone who violates the law only if they commit another offense, such as speeding or reckless driving. The bill allows some leniency in that it does not require disassembly of an active nitrous oxide system. It just requires that hoses supplying nitrous oxide to the engine be disconnected.

We also passed a bond bill that contained $89 million for upgrades at our colleges and universities as well as a minimum of $4 million for repairs and upgrades at our junior and community colleges.

We voted in favor of extending the session by 30 days, which will allow us to leave early next week and return April 20, to finalize the 2011 budget when we know for certain whether we will receive an additional $187 million in federal Medicaid funds that will offset some of the cuts that the governor has been forced to make because of lower than expected revenues.

We are in agreement with the House on funding sources for the $5.5 billion 2011 fiscal budget. By returning in April we should eliminate any extra expenses to the taxpayer.

Among other business we concluded this week was accepting House changes to Senate Bill 2330 that will allow circuit clerks to remove from the list of potential jurors, anyone who is permanently excused from having to serve. This will save the clerks postage fees and make the jury selection process more efficient.

Also approved were House changes to Senate Bill 2636 that will place up to $400,000 in taxes derived from cotton warehouses and compresses into the Boll Weevil Management Fund from the general fund.

The passage of Senate Bill 2616 will allow the newly incorporated city of Byram to take over and maintain Lake Dockery, which will provide it another avenue of recreation for citizens.

We remain in conference with the House on other measures.

Please feel free to call me at 601-359-3244 or e-mail me at kbutler@senate.ms.gov

Sen. Kelvin Butler represents a portion of Adams County in the Mississippi Senate.

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