Hopson chosen 2014 legislator of the year

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sen. Briggs Hopson III

Sen. Briggs Hopson III

State Sen. Briggs Hopson III has been named the Home Builders Association of Mississippi’s “Legislator of the Year” for his work on legislation supporting Mississippi’s housing industry during the 2014 Legislature.
He will receive the award, the highest honor the association can present to a legislator, at a Feb. 11 ceremony in Jackson.
Hopson said he learned he won the award a few weeks ago.
“I’m very pleased and honored that they would recognize me in that way,” he said. “I’m very humbled by it. I did not expect that. It came as a big surprise.”
HBAM spokesman Marty Milstead said Hopson’s work on the subcontractor lien bill that passed in the 2014 Legislature was the main reason Hopson is receiving the award.
“That was major piece of legislation,” he said, adding Hopson worked with the association and the state contractors association to prepare the bill, which ensures that subcontractors are paid for work they do on a project.
Hopson said the bill came in the wake of a 2013 U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that declared the state’s 100-year-old stop notice provision protecting subcontractors unconstitutional because it involved holding or taking somebody’s money while waiting for a job to be completed.
“I started working to put together the best legislation possible that would address the need for some kind of lien process or notice process that the people in the construction business could use to make sure they were protected and would receive payment for the work they did,” Hopson said, adding the bill is aimed primarily at protecting subcontractors.
“If a contractor is paid for a job, the subcontractor needs to be paid, too,” he said. “We’ve had some unscrupulous contractors in the past that had taken the money and run, so to speak.
“This way the subcontractors can put the owners of a project on notice that they’re performing work there, and before the owner and the lender pay off funds, they would have to notify them and the contractors that the money’s being paid, and steps are taken to ensure they and the material men are going to be paid for the efforts they put in the job.”
Hopson this past week sponsored a bill under which new teachers, principals and superintendents statewide would have a longer probationary period.
Senate Bill 2173 would keep those job descriptions and other certified professional personnel hired between July 1, 2013 and July 1, 2015 on probation for the purposes of payroll for three years, up from two in current law. Those hired afterward would be kept on probation for four years.
Transfers from other school districts would be on probation three years in their new district, up from two in current law. Educators qualify as employees under provisions of the Education Employment Procedures Law.
The bill was sent to the Senate Education Committee, on which Hopson sits.  If passed and signed by the governor, the bill becomes law immediately.
“I’ve introduced this bill for several years now,” he said. “Currently, when a new teacher is employed, there is a two-year probation period before they get protection (under state law). Most other states in the southeast are now three to five years, and we are two years and one year for teachers who move from one district to another district.”
He said the bill gives principals and superintendents “more time to review the work of teachers and analyze teachers, and not feel like they have to make a rush decision to renew or non-renew them without a good body of work to review before making that decision.”
The Vicksburg Warren School District enters 2015 with 544 certified teachers on staff overall, according to the district. The total doesn’t include support staff, such as counselors or medical personnel.
It would mark the second time in three legislative sessions the probationary period has been adjusted. The EEPL went into effect in 2001, replacing the old School Employment Procedures Act.
The bill does not affect the size of the school calendar.

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About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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