By Sen. Juan Barnett

I invited Rev. Michael A. McGee, pastor of First Baptist Church in Stringer, to lead us in prayer on Monday, March 4. “Thank God for Sen. Barnett for the service he provides to Jasper, Jones and Forrest counties,” Rev. McGee said.

I also met with Marie Moffett Crosby of Louin and Elmer Dean Booth Taylorsviile.

We passed House Bill 1160, which would authorize $12.5 million in bonds for construction and furnishing of the Mississippi Center for Medically Fragile Children on state-owned property near I-55 and Lakeland Drive in Jackson.

The facility will have 30 beds and would be operated by University of Mississippi Medical Center as is Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children.

The major difference between the two facilities is the cost to care for child patients. Blair E. Batson’s daily cost for treating patients is about $2,500 per child, officials say. The new facility would incur a cost of about $1,000 per day per child.

The Mississippi Center for Medically Fragile Children plans to have five beds for critically ill children and the other 25 beds for less severely ill/transitional patients.

We passed House Bill 991 that will allow local governments to collect past-due debts from a debtor’s state income tax refund. Only child support payments would take precedent over the debts owed to city, county or state entities.

Other bills passed included:

· House Bill 1132 would offer through the Mississippi Development Authority, financial incentives for grocers to locate in rural areas and out of the way places whose citizens need access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

· House Bill 1363 would provide grant money for short line railroads.

· House Bill 1456 would provide property tax savings for those who own large tracts of rural or farm land.

· House Bill 1247 would remove the requirement that automatically makes a county superintendent of education a member of the community college board of trustees.

· House Bill 1322 would require the state board of education to recommend an eye examination for first-graders whose initial screening revealed the need for further testing.

· House Bill 1540, would allow cities and counties to negotiate solid waste contracts for up to a 10-year period and also bypass advertising for proposals under certain conditions.

· House Bill 1477 would allow cities and counties to have crews clean up and maintain eyesore abandoned cemeteries on public or private lands.

• We agreed with House changes to Senate Bill 2243 that would allow the president of a board of supervisors to declare an emergency.

Sen. Juan Barnett (D-Heidelberg) can be reached at 601-359-3221 or


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