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Senate has passed number of bills

Recently the Senate passed a number of commendatory resolutions honoring citizens for their achievements and saluting war veterans who lost their lives in defense of our country.

Senate Concurrent Resolutions honored U.S. Army Sergeant Eric C. Newman of Waynesboro, Marine Lance Corporal Joshua Ose of Hernando, U.S. Army Private William Brandon Dawson of Tunica and Marine First Lieutenant William J. Donnelly IV of Picayune, all of whom lost their lives while serving in Afghanistan.

Also honored was Tippah County Deputy Sheriff Dewayne Crenshaw, who was lost in the line of duty when he responded to a domestic dispute in December.

The Senate passed Senate Bill 2472, “Nathan’s Law,” that would increase penalties for unlawfully passing a stopped school bus. This bill is an effort to increase the level of safety for children, following the death of 5-year-old Nathan Key of Jones County who was killed by an impatient driver after stepping off his school bus in December of 2009.

Last week the Senate passed legislation that cracks down on illegal immigrants in an effort to protect Mississippi jobs and save state resources.

Senate Bill 2179, dubbed, “Support our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” among other things will require law enforcement to check the immigration status of people they suspect of being in the country illegally if they stop the person for another reason.

It passed on a 34-15 vote.

The Senate approved Senate Bill 2596 that increased from $10 to $100 the daily penalty that elected officials face for failure to file in a timely manner, a statement of economic interest. Officials have a 45-day grace period if they miss the May 1, deadline.

Records showed that 1,200 of 6,000 officials, who filed the report in 2010, did so late. Any money collected through the fines will be deposited into the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. The bill also establishes a $100 fine for anyone who denies citizens access to public records.

Also passed was Senate Bill 2289, the “Meetings Accountability Act,” that raised the fine for knowingly and recklessly violating the Open Meetings Act to a maximum of $1,000 in an effort to promote more open and accountable government.

The bill recommends that a fine be paid by the persons who committed the violations instead of being paid from public funds.

House Bill 455, which caps fees charged by pay day lenders was passed by the Senate.

It places a fee of $20 per hundred borrowed for those who borrow up to $300 for a 21-day period and allows the lender to charge a processing fee of $21.95.

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

Sen. Kelvin Butler is a Democrat representing Adams County in the Mississippi Senate.