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 from the fourth week of the 2018 Mississippi Legislative session. Also, you can forward the newsletter to others who might want to be better informed about the political process.  Thanks for your engagement.

John F. Kennedy High School in Mound Bayou, MS has produced some outstanding scholars. Last week, the Mississippi Dental Association sponsored an event and I met Dr. Lamonica Davis Taylor. If you are in Jackson, MS, please visit her practice:

Representative Roun McNeal was sporting a bow tie. We got a chance to briefly catch up in the first floor House member's lounge. 

As you can see, Pat Bradshaw is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. On Monday night, I sat next to her at a North Bolivar Consolidated School District school board meeting in Mound Bayou, MS.

Vonkervius Jackson, Jadan Farrow, and Omar Peters have done a good job advocating for the Mississippi Youth Council. Via House Bill 1278, MYCouncil is working to advocate state Legislators to support laws that increase access to evidence-based or medically accurate, and age appropriate sex education programs, which are proven to help youth delay the onset of sexual activity, reduce the frequency of sexual activity, reduce the number of sexual partners, and increase condom and contraceptive use. 

Debra Allen works at Delta State University. She was at the Capitol with the Mississippi Nurses Association where she currently serves as President .

Representative Margaret Rogers sat down next to me a few days ago and I was glad she did. Women add value and perspective to the legislative process.

Last week, Harlow's Casino is in Greenville, Mississippi. I saw a few folks from their team at the annual legislative tourism reception in Jackson, MS. Photographed below are Isaac Morris, General Manager Roscoe Greene, and  Linda Arnold.

  Tamela Hardy is the President of the Mississippi Association of Drug Court Professionals. She is also a Mississippi Deltan who lives in Greenville, MS.
  Linda Watkins shared many things with me about the nurse practitioner field. She, along with several other nurses from around the state, visited Jackson this week to discuss their concerns and issues with legislators.
  I met Scott Baretta outside Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, MS a few years ago. In this photo, we spotted each other walking the streets of Jackson, MS. Each time I talk with this Mississippi ambassador, I get energized about our state.
  This week was Restaurant Week in Cleveland, MS. On my way home Friday, I stopped at newly opened Wing Haven in Cleveland, MS to get hot wings. The food was good and the service was great!!! Please stop for a visit if you are ever in Cleveland. MS.
On Thursday, I attended the Foundation for Education and Economic Development, Incorporated banquet. The organization provided $50,000 in scholarships to students attending Mississippi Colleges and Universities.
Representative Orlando Paden and I took a photo with Addie Green. We greeted her at the  Foundation for Education and Economic Development, Incorporated banquet.
2018 Mississippi Legislative 
Session  (Week 4)

The House schedule was full of committee meetings this week, as next Tuesday's deadline to have House Bills out of their corresponding committees quickly approaches.  After Tuesday, January 30th, no additional bills will be added to the House calendar for consideration, and members of the House will begin meeting as a whole for longer hours to discuss the bills that made it out of committees.  Despite the busy week of committee meetings, a few bills were introduced to the House floor for discussion.

One bill that generated some debate was House House Bill 559. The bill would authorize the Department of Finance and Administration to enter into a lease with a nonprofit for the development of a pediatric care facility for the severely disabled. Some legislators expressed concerns that the current facility would be relocated from one area of Jackson to another, but proponents said renovating the current location would be cost prohibitive to the project. The bill passed by a vote of 76-39 and was then held on a motion to reconsider. I voted against this bill. 

The Committee on Universities and Colleges introduced two bills this week. Members unanimously voted to pass House Bill 700, which would authorize the transfer of property (known as the Cutrer Mansion) from Delta State University to Coahoma Community College for a higher education research center. I voted yes for this bill. 

The committee also presented House Bill 405, which would establish the "Mississippi Career-Tech Scholars Program" to provide free tuition to students enrolled in certain career and technical education programs at community and junior colleges. With my support, the bill passed by a vote of 111-2. 

Also introduced was House Bill 325, which would change the failure to have mandatory motor vehicle liability insurance from a civil violation to a criminal offense. The bill passed by a vote of 93-14. 

On Wednesday, country music star and Mississippi native Randy Houser was recognized in the House Chamber with a resolution declaring December 18, 2018, as "Randy Houser Day in Mississippi."

Among the groups visiting the Capitol this week were members of the Mississippi Retired Public Employees Association, the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges, the Mississippi Tourism Association, the Mississippi Association of Nurse Practitioners and the Mississippi Counseling Association.

North Bolivar Consolidated School District

J ohn F. Kennedy High School (in Mound Bayou, MS) and Shelby Broadstreet High School (in Shelby, MS) both have a history of serving students in rural communities. Last Monday in Mound Bayou, the North Bolivar Consolidated school board voted to close John F. Kennedy High School at the start of the 2018-2019 school year to make it a vocational school. Therefore, all junior high and high school students in the North Bolivar School District would attend Shelby Broad Street High School. On Saturday night, a group of concerned citizens met to discuss potential options against full school closure. I attended both the school board meeting and the community forum. 

As I understand, the reasons for the potential school closure are as follows:
  1. Declining Enrollment
  2. Declining Fund Balance
  3. Lack of Certified Teachers
  4. Lack of Funds for Maintenance of Five Schools

Before I was elected to the legislature, the decision was made to consolidate several rural school districts. North Bolivar Consolidated School District is a combination of two school districts. Also, West Bolivar Consolidated School District is a combination of three school districts. It is also in my district. With little regard as to how this would impact the overall culture and day to day operations, the districts were forced by the state to consolidate. Though I don't agree with how it was done, we must press forward for the sake the students. (To better understand the history of the district, please Click Here to read a 2012 Delta Business Journal Article.)

These are some complex issues that many rural communities are having to navigate. Personally, I have visited each of the schools in the North Bolivar Consolidated School District to  get a feel for the situation. After viewing them, I am aware of some of the necessary upgrades and improvements that need to be made. Hence, I have requested state dollars for the past two years in the amount of $1.5 million to help with infrastructure issues at the two high schools in the North Bolivar School District. Please click the link to see the two bills:  House Bill 367   House Bill 401 .

I am hopeful we can ascertain supplementary state funds because it seems infrastructure is a major part of the local debate.  Though I did not go to high school in Bolivar County, I do understand how it feels to have the high school you attended repurposed for new use. T.L. Weston High School, where I went to high school, had to merge with Greenville High School. Initially, I felt just like some of you. I am not saying that you should not express how you feel. As a matter of fact, I  encourage it. It helps to verbalize emotions. Let's face it, a high school that is the center of a community is a hard thing to give up. 

The decision by the school board has been made but we still need to ensure our kids both perform well on state test and have a successful remaining school year. The last thing we need is a child to lose hope in the system. Many would argue that all hope is already lost in the Mississippi Delta. I refuse to give up on our kids. John F. Kennedy High School graduates, concerned parents, and community members, let's keep the lines of communication open so that we can create a "Model Rural  School District". I plan to be a part of the conversation, and I hope you will join me. 


Representative Abe M. Hudson, Jr.

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    Representative Abe M. Hudson, Jr. |