Flowers give Mississippi session a passing grade - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Flowers give Mississippi session a passing grade

By Chip Washington - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

HERNANDO, MS (WMC-TV) - Mississippi lawmakers passed a number of new laws this legislative session that have hit many North Mississippi residents close to home.

Lawmakers in Mississippi had a lot on their plates, as Mississippi was hit hard by severe deficit. State Senator Merle Flowers, who represents DeSoto County, said Monday he would give the session a moderate grade.

"I would grade the session about a six and a half on a scale of one to ten," he said.

Among the high points was a sales tax holiday and the almost full funding of education, which had faced a five percent cut across the board.

For DeSoto County, which has the state's largest school district, this was crucial.

"Education was important to our entire state and to the legislature, so we funded it at 99 percent of the level of the requested funding," Flowers said.

On the downside, the recent passage of a new 50 cent per pack cigarette tax hike, which Flowers says creates a $100 million tax burden. Also, the defeat of a proposed new 100 bed hospital for Olive Branch, which passed the senate but struck out in the house.

"The Olive Branch facility would allow more people to be treated here, because they want to participate in the trauma care system and wouldn't have to be transported to the Med," Flowers said.

Flowers added the state has been through tough times before.

"We've hitched up our britches, we went back to work, helped ourselves, helped our neighbor, got back on our feet and we'll do it again," he said.

Flowers says although the session was officially over at end of April, they will be called back for a special session on May 26th to finish tying up some additional loose ends.

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