Lawmakers weigh in: Hot button issues for 2014

Published: Jan. 2, 2014 at 10:29 PM CST
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As Phil Bryant starts his third year as Mississippi's governor, he aims to make public safety key in 2014. State Senator Billy Hudson agrees, and says the Mississippi Highway Patrol is hurting.

"They're hurting. They're hurting in terms of personnel, equipment and money. A lot of people have retired and have not been replaced in the highway patrol and they're shorthanded," he said.

He wants to see a new trooper school in coming days.

"You can't just go hire somebody and put 'em to work in the highway patrol; you have to be trained and go to school."

He pushes for a better paycheck for highway patrolmen. State Representative Larry Byrd agrees that public safety could use some work.

"I know that we need a trooper school, desperately," Byrd said.

Byrd adds that highway patrolmen will retire soon, and the state will face an even greater shortage in troopers. Byrd has more ideas, including bail reform.

"We have many individuals who are incarcerated who could be bailed out, who are not violent offenders," he said.

He says bail reform would save taxpayers money. Another key issue for 2014 is education. Mississippi is 48th in an annual ranking of state's educational performance.

"I think that there may be a raise for teachers on the horizon. Governor Bryant wants to tie it to performance and I really think that's okay but I think what's more important is that we elevate all of our teachers you can drive across that line and make $4,500 more a year just because of your zip code," Byrd said.

Another piece of legislature Byrd is working on is dyslexia awareness.

"I want our educators to understand what this is. These children can be helped, they can be very successful. Einstein was dyslexic, Kennedy was dyslexic," he said.

Public safety and education aside, Governor Bryant told the Associated Press that he aims to require drug testing for recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, a government funded program that provides money to low-income families with children up to age 18.