State lawmakers prepare for 2018 legislative session

State lawmakers prepare for 2018 legislative session

PINE BELT (WDAM) - The start of the 2018 legislative session begins Tuesday. State lawmakers from the Pine Belt are getting ready for several months of work and debate on a range of issues.

WDAM talked with state Sen. Joey Fillingane and Rep. Missy McGee on Monday to talk about the upcoming session.

Fillingane is a longtime state senator who represents District 41, which includes Jeff Davis, Covington, Smith, Lamar, and Forrest counties. Finances will be near the top of his to-do list this legislative session.

"I'm looking forward to getting the budget done this year. We've got some pretty good revenue numbers coming in over the past couple of months. We have been hitting or exceeding our expectations by a little bit, so that is very encouraging," said Fillingane. "With the federal government just signing into law the new tax reform bill, we are hopeful that that will translate into increased business activity in the states as well. Hopefully, our revenues will adjust even better than they have been."

Fillingane said safety in schools and churches is also on his agenda.

"There's a bill that I'm working on personally that I am very interested in that deals with the school shootings and the church shootings," said Fillingane. "I want to enhance the penalties to anyone who harms or even kills someone at a place of worship or an educational facility and max out some of the current penalties."

McGee was recently elected to represent District 102 in the Mississippi House of Representatives. McGee said she's anxious to get started and make a difference for the community.

"As a new member, the most important thing that I think I can do from the start is to build relationships with my colleagues. I think establishing my credibility among my colleagues is very important to be effective for my district," said McGee. "I campaigned on a Hattiesburg first platform, and so I want to be a champion for the things that make us strong, things like our university, our medical community, and I also want to be a strong advocate in the areas that we know we have challenges, things like public education. So, those would be my priorities from the start."

During this session, lawmakers might consider an increase in the tobacco tax, enhanced funding for the three historically black universities in Mississippi, and dedicating more money for the state crime lab.