ATV, park bills remain alive

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 4, 2010

Two of 15 bills filed during the current legislative session that would limit who can lawfully ride on all-terrain vehicles in Mississippi have moved on to committees, as has a bill to free up more money for Vicksburg National Military Park.

Senate Bill 2215 by Sen. Gray Tollison, D-Oxford, would require operators of the popular vehicles to have a driver’s license and a certificate from safety classes to be held by the Cooperative Extension Service. Certification would come at “a reasonable fee” the bill states.

House Bill 1204 by Rep. Dannie Reed, R-Ackerman, would charge parents and guardians with a misdemeanor if they allow anyone under 18 to ride without a crash helmet that meets federal guidelines for motorcycle riders.

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Both are before the Judiciary B committees in each chamber. Many of the bills filed were by sole authors, though the surviving House version picked up six co-authors. Despite some early support from Vicksburg and Warren County’s delegation, none of the three local legislators sponsored the myriad attempts to either create a registry for four-wheelers or restrict how they are operated.

Bills to create a job training-based curriculum for high school students instead of a traditional college preparatory track remain alive in House and Senate education committees. Versions by Rep. Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, and Sen. Michael Watson, R-Jackson, allow for enrollment in both diploma plans and for tuition aid eligibility. Similar “career diploma” bills filed by Rep. Alex Monsour and Sen. Briggs Hopson III, both Republicans, died in committee.

A mechanism to let more money flow to more restorations of monuments and markers in VNMP survived initial cuts of bills before Tuesday’s deadline to file general bills. If passed, the bill filed by Sen. Hopson would place remainders of a $250,000 allotment to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in escrow to restore and replace all markers and tablets. At present, state law only allows the funds to address the Mississippi Monument. The bill is before the Appropriations Committee.

Other locally filed bills before committees include mandatory mental health screenings for youth in juvenile detention centers and creation of a task force to study public transportation statewide, both authored by Rep. George Flaggs, D-Vicksburg. Another, by Hopson, to authorize the City of Rolling Fork to expand water lines more than five miles outside city limits is before the Senate Local and Private Committee.

No bills to authorize city or county government to fund nonprofit agencies have been filed thus far, a departure from recent years. Cuts up to 10 percent have been enacted in this year’s allocations for most organizations receiving funds via last year’s bills.

Contact Danny Barrett Jr. at