Hill discusses what she expects in the 2014 legislative session

Published 7:00 am Thursday, January 2, 2014

Mississippi State Sen. Angela Burks Hill sees the upcoming session as one that will have far-reaching implications affecting all ages and income brackets.


Hill serves District 40, which includes Pearl River, Marion and Walthall Counties.

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She is the vice –chair of the Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committee and serves on the Agriculture; Appropriations; Corrections; Education; Environmental Protection, Conservation and Water Resources and Insurance committees.


Hill touched on some potential hot points in upcoming legislative decisions as well as subjects that she would like to see make headway.


In the education area, Hill said, “I would love to see Common Core curriculum get replaced with standards that were considered higher prior to Common Core, which were proven successful in other states such as Minnesota, Massachusetts and California’s math standards. The state of Georgia had better English standards than Common Core as well. These states have proven track records in these areas and we should not have unproven curriculum mandated to us.


“I also intend to follow up on dyslexia bills and the ability for state and federal money to follow students for dyslexia therapy to their school of choice as long as it meets certain criteria.


“Basically, the legislation allows money to follow students to special purpose (schools) like the 3-D school in Petal. Although, I would like to see it broaden the scope to include any non-profit that meets certain criteria.”


Hill said that the governor is likely to push for more public safety legislation.


“I think you will see the governor push for a Mississippi state trooper school,” Hill said. “The governor wants this to be the public safety session and I will tell you that we do need more funding for our police and troopers. It took me over an hour to get a trooper on the scene when I had an accident. The trooper told me he was covering five counties. I said no wonder!


“Another thing is I would like to see is CDL licenses be able to get issued in Picayune. Currently we have 30 counties with no availability of getting a driver’s license test issued in those counties. There was a bill passed last year that all counties must have this ability. But currently, this is not being enforced because the department in charge says it doesn’t have the funds to do it.


“I fought for this bill and someone who is over 70 years old will have to drive an hour or so from their home to get a driver’s license if they live in one of those 30 counties. This is just unacceptable.”


When it comes to medical legislation, Hill said that there will be another push for


Medicaid expansion.


“A lot of people would like to stimulate the economy with more federal Medicaid money. It would take an incredible investment from the state to get matching funds, which would require cutting budgets in education and law enforcement.


“Health care costs have skyrocketed and the Affordable Health Care Act has made it go higher. I don’t see this going anywhere.”


In the wildlife, risheries and parks arena, Hill said there is an investigation involving Pearl River County that is sure to make headlines this year.


“There has been a federal investigation involving Pearl River and a couple of other counties which began at least a year ago, in the fall of 2012,” Hill said. “Allegedly, some people brought in some white-tailed deer to this county through Louisiana and other states. The deer were brought in for either hunting or breeding a larger deer, but either way, the law says you are not supposed to have canned white-tail hunts in fenced enclosures.”


In addition to the violations of law, there was also the allegation that the deer were brought here from pens that were confirmed to have chronic wasting disease — a version of mad cow disease that involves deer, Hill said.


“The repealer will come up for the deer pens this year and there should be some news from this ongoing investigation, so this will definitely be something to watch. I am not against anyone with a high fence who are following the law, but there are a few bad apples out there who are ruining it for others,” Hill said.