I am sending you Rep. Joel Bomgar’s (Madison) most resent newsletter recapping this year’s legislative session. If you are not familiar with Rep. Bomgar I encourage you to learn more about him (www.JoelBomgar.com). He is one of the few in the Mississippi legislature who truly stands up and votes based on a principle of limited government and freedom for the citizens of our state. I am proud to serve with Joel.
The State Legislature finished its regular session at the end of March, and Governor Bryant has now finished signing bills into law. As your representative, I want to give you an update on the major legislation that was adopted this session and how these new laws will help improve our community.
Here’s a short summary of several bills that were passed into law. I was happy to work with my colleagues to help pass several of these key reforms. As always, you can view all of the bills considered by the Legislature, as well as my votes on each of them, on my website at JoelBomgar.com/blog/.
This session, we made some real progress on the rights of the unborn. HB 1510, which was signed into law, protects the right to life by preventing abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy.
We also made big strides by aiding parents who are looking to adopt. HB 1566created an Adoption Tax Credit which allows individuals to receive a tax credit for payments they make to arrange adoptions. This legislation will help reduce the aggregate tax burden, encourage adoption, and strengthen families in Mississippi.
Regulation and Bureaucracy
One of the primary concerns that I hear from our neighbors is the need to reduce the size of government and bureaucracy. HB 1122, signed into law this year, prevents local governments from passing burdensome regulations that make it more difficult to do business. This is a step in the right direction, and I’m encouraged that we continue to make strides in this area.
The legislature came together to pass SB 2578, a law that freezes the value of a homestead property for anyone over 65 years of age for tax purposes. This will go in effect this year, applying to the value of homes starting January 1, 2018 or when an individual turns 65. In other words, when a person turns 65, the value of his or her property is frozen for the rest of his or her life for tax purposes. This especially will help our retirees, many who are on fixed income.
The legislature considered a bill which would have updated the education funding formula to fund students based on their needs. HB 957 would spend $107 million more than the State currently does on education without raising taxes. It aimed to give local leaders more freedom to spend dollars for students with special needs and those in poverty, and to reduce the administrative burden on school districts allowing for more attention to be given to the classroom and each child. I was happy to support this bill because it would have been a more student-centric and transparent funding mechanism, giving schools more autonomy to spend dollars in the classroom. Unfortunately, this bill didn’t not gain enough support in the Senate. I will continue to support reforms that remove bureaucratic requirements and give our local leaders more freedom and flexibility to educate our children.
Employability and Public Safety
The legislature passed HB 387 which aims to reduce barriers to employment for people leaving the corrections system. The bill limits the use of debtor’s prisons to collect fees, creates a new path to reentry for individuals seeking to reenter the workforce, and allows individuals who are currently working to meet with their parole officer using technology like FaceTime to minimize disruption to their employment. This bill includes a number of reforms which will help improve our state’s workforce and economy.
The legislature also passed SB 2568, otherwise known as “Katie’s Law.” This bill aims to help investigators solve more violent crimes by keeping DNA samples on file which can be referenced when investigating reports of new violent offenses. The law requires the State Crime Lab to maintain DNA samples unless a defendant is found not guilty and asks that their samples be destroyed.
Finally, we passed SB2197 which grants immunity to anyone calling for medical assistance to another person for alcohol consumption related danger. This law encourages young people in dangerous situations to seek medical attention and save lives without the fear of being prosecuted. In other words, if a group of teenagers were drinking underage, and they were concerned about one of their friends, then they could call emergency services without the fear of consequences. This bill is intended to save lives.
The state legislature adopted the Kaelin Kersh Act, a law requiring emergency vehicles to turn on lights when speeding to an emergency over 30 miles per hour above the speed limit. This bill intends to stop preventable accidents in these situations.
The House passed several bills this year that would have diverted more state funds to improve local roads and bridges. I was happy to support each of these measures, which prioritized existing tax revenue for infrastructure without raising taxes. Unfortunately, this bill didn’t not gain enough support in the Senate. I expect that the House will continue working with the Senate over the coming months to reach a consensus on a plan that will provide more funding to address this need without increasing the aggregate tax burden on our citizens.
I cannot stress how important is it that we must address the issues with our infrastructure. The roads we drive on everyday need to be safe and maintained. My colleagues in the House and I will continue to work for solutions to fixing our roads and bridges while not increasing the size and scope of our government.
Transparency and Accountability
When I was campaigning for this office, I asked people across District 58 what they would most like to see different about their state government. Time and time again, their first response was “Transparency.” We all deserve to know what our state government is doing, and how we are being represented.
As State Representative for District 58, my goal is to lead by example. Since I cast my first vote in the legislature, I have posted every single vote online. It should be simple for you to know how I voted on each measure, as well as why I voted the way I did. You can view all of this information at any time on my website at JoelBomgar.com/blog/
Your feedback and suggestions have been immensely helpful as I work to represent our district in the legislature! I do my best to respond to each of you as quickly as I can. You can always reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can call or text my cell phone at (601) 207-0813. Please reach out with any questions, concerns or requests that you might have.
I look forward to working with all of you, and with leaders from our area to continue to craft legislation that improves our community. My goal is to ensure that Madison and Ridgeland continue to be great places to live, work and raise a family. I will continue to support legislation that grows our economy, improves our workforce, and helps our state move forward by creating a better quality of life for all of our citizens.
It’s an honor to serve and represent you.