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Bills head to governor's desk

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This year must be the year for transformational change in education. This year must be the year for transformational change in education.
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Before the session even started the debate over charter schools and education reform set the stage for a political battle. Now, several bills which will change the state's educational system are one sure step away from reality.

"This year must be the year for transformational change in education," said Governor Phil Bryant.

Governor Bryant pushed lawmakers to pass several bills as parts of his education agenda, including charter schools, a third grade reading gate and new standards and requirements for folks who want to become teachers. All of it now waits on his signature.

Some new criminal laws could also be on the way after an attempted murder category was agreed on by lawmakers. It would bring a sentence of 20 years to life. A second degree murder charge is also clearing some last minute hurdles.

Tracking problem sex offenders will be a little easier under "Lenora's Law" which will require sex offenders who violate the state's registry system to wear a GPS tracking device.

"It protects victims of sex offenses from people who have proven they can't follow the law," said the bill's author Senator Will Longwitz, a Republican from Madison.

A bill known as "Erin's Law" is also about to be sent to the governor. It'll put age appropriate sexual abuse prevention education in public schools.

"It let's the kids know that they can tell someone when they have a problem. The next thing it does is we're hoping it will be used as a deterrent from sexual predators messing with these innocent children," said the bill's author Rep. Tom Miles, a democrat from Forest.

Stronger laws against drunk driving are also headed to the governor's desk. Under it, a judge could require anyone convicted of a first offense DUI to have an ignition interlock device put on their car.

"This law will help save lives and it will help prevent repeat offenses," said Patrick Harris, legislative affairs manage with MADD.

Governor Bryant has 15 days to sign the bills once they all reach his desk.

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