Rep. Hood reviews the major moments of the House

By: District 35 Rep. Joey Hood
The Mississippi House of Representatives convened on January 3, 2012.  As the first order of business, the House voted and elected Phillip Gunn as Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives.  Speaker Gunn is the first Republican to hold this position since Reconstruction.  Organization of the House commenced during the month of January with the Speaker determining committee assignments for each member.  I was appointed to the following committees: Apportionment and Elections, Energy, Banking and Financial Services, Public Health and Human Services, University and Colleges, and Judiciary B.  
During the week of March 19th through 23rd, members of the House turned their focus toward the Appropriations process.  This process is crucial in designing the FY 2013 State Budget which begins July 1, 2012.  At the beginning of the week, House members focused on Special Funds Appropriations bills and then moved to address General Funds Appropriations bills. During this process, the House voted to appropriate state funds for Education and Medicaid at the same levels from last year.  Below is a summary of some of the bills passed by the Mississippi House of Representatives.   
HB 582 Sales Tax; Exempt Sales of Utilities to Churches 
This bill exempts churches from paying sales tax on utilities. There are 5,000 registered churches in Mississippi. To quality for this exemption, a “church” must be a registered 501c3 organization with the Internal Revenue Service. I voted for House Bill 582.  
HB 16 – Mississippi Child Protection Act of 2012 
This bill requires specific people, who are in the position of having knowledge of child abuse,  to report alleged or suspected sexual abuse against children to authorities within 48 hours.  The Bill also requires physicians who perform abortions on girls younger than age 14 to preserve fetal tissue.  The fetal tissue is used to obtain DNA which can then be used in prosecutorial cases against the sexual predator.  I voted  for House Bill 16.  
HB 821 – An Act which Amends the Education Enhancement Fund
This bill addresses procurement of classroom supplies.  It allows school districts to distribute procurement cards to teachers to purchase supplies for their individual classrooms.  Each teacher will be granted a card with a limit of $150.00.  In addition, the cards will have a predetermined expiration date.  This bill attempts to eliminate paperwork and ensure that all teachers receive the money they are entitled to for their classroom supplies.  I voted for House Bill 821.  
HB 921 – Voter ID Law 
In November 2011, Mississippi voters went to the polls and passed a Constitutional amendment to require voter identification at elections. House Bill 921 was adopted to fulfill this Constitutional mandate. The bill provides that persons appearing to vote must present valid identification.  I voted for House Bill 921.  
HB 488 – The Mississippi Immigration Reform Law
This bill aims to strengthen enforcement provisions preventing illegal immigration and encouraging legalization of immigrants. Upon any lawful arrest for a violation of state law, a law enforcement agent may request immigrant documentation when a “reasonable suspicion exists” that the person may be in Mississippi unlawfully. Although based on Alabama’s existing illegal immigration enforcement law, most provisions which are the subject of court challenge in our sister state are not included in Mississippi HB488. I voted for House Bill 488.  
HB 836 – Landlord Protection Act
This bill provides that an owner, lessee or other occupant does not owe a duty of care to a trespasser and is not subject to liability for any injury to a trespasser.  The bill does include some limited exceptions to this law with regard to intentional conduct and artificial conditions that result in death or injuries to children.   I voted for House Bill 836.  
HB 211 – The Sunshine Act
The bill allows state agency heads to retain counsel and hire outside attorneys and/or law firms to represent them in lawsuits in the event the agency has a conflict with the Attorney General.  The bill also provides that in order to justify the attorney fees in such cases, full disclosure of the work completed will be required.  I voted for House Bill 211. 
The House is now considering bills that were passed by the Senate.  Redistricting is also an issue that must be addressed by the House in the next couple of weeks.  I would like to thank the people of District 35 for allowing me the opportunity to serve. 
If you have any questions or need any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me anytime.  My address and telephone number at the Capitol is P. O. Box 1018, Jackson, Mississippi 39215, (601) 359-3339.  My home telephone number is (662)547-9818 and my email address is   Also please visit me on facebook at Rep. Joey Hood (State Representative- District 35).