February 11, 2011 12:41:00 PM
Here''s a glance at the status of selected bills in the Mississippi Legislature. Thursday was the deadline for the House and Senate to act on general bills filed in their own chamber. The House and Senate now exchange the surviving bills for more work. There is a later deadline for budget and revenue bills. The three-month session is scheduled to end April 2.
IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT - Senate Bill 2179 would allow a law enforcement officer to check a person''s immigration status if the officer thinks the person might be in the United States illegally.
PAYDAY LENDING - House Bill 455 would give consumers longer to pay off loans from check cashing businesses and would reduce finance charges.
CHARTER SCHOOLS - Senate Bill 2774 is designed to strengthen the state''s current charter school law by allowing organizations to run open-enrollment charter schools anywhere in the state after receiving approval from the state Board of Education, the state College Board or local school districts. The current law allows charter schools to open in low-performing districts.
ANIMAL CRUELTY - Senate Bill 2127 says a person could be charged with aggravated cruelty for torturing, mutilating, maiming, burning, starving, disfiguring or killing any domesticated dog or cat. Senate Bill 2821 would allow a felony charge on a second offense of animal cruelty within five years.
FAKE BATH SALTS - Senate Bill 2226 would outlaw fake bath salts and other products containing toxic chemicals that some people are using to get a psychotic high.
OPEN MEETINGS - House Bill 314 says public officials would have to pay fines out of their own pockets if they improperly close meetings that should be open. Under current state law, taxpayers pay the fine - not the officials themselves. The bill also says anyone who denies someone access to public records may face a fine of up to $100 per violation.
WATER ASSOCIATIONS - House Bill 702 would make the state Open Meetings law apply to rural water associations.
SEX EDUCATION - House Bill 999 would allow each school district to develop its own sex education curriculum to allow either the current state policy of abstinence only or an "abstinence plus" option. House Bill 967 would require teenage recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and Medicaid to participate in programs about birth control, abstinence and parenting.
ATTORNEYS'' CONTRACTS - Senate Bill 2618 would change the procedures for the attorney general to hire private attorneys to file lawsuits on behalf of the state.
UNDERAGE DRINKING - House Bill 504 would set penalties for people who host parties where minors consume alcohol.
MENTAL HEALTH - House Bill 1277 attempts to correct disparities among services in community mental health centers.
TEACHER CONDUCT - House Bill 641 would provide specific reasons for suspending or revoking the license of a teacher or school administrator for sexual misconduct with a student.
''BASTARD'' - House Bill 1318 and Senate Bill 2986 would remove the words "bastard" and "bastardy" from state laws dealing with paternity proceedings for children of unmarried parents.
COSMETOLOGY - Senate Bill 2766 would restructure the state Board of Cosmetology to offer training programs and certification for shampooing and hair design. Currently, a salon worker has to have a cosmetology license to shampoo hair.
STATE PLANE - House Bill 1201 says anyone using a state plane for personal business would have to pay the state 10 times the cost of the plane''s operation for the trip.
INSURANCE DATABASE - Senate Bill 2870 would allow the state Department of Public Safety to study how to implement a database of insured drivers. House Bill 620 would create a computer database state troopers could use to verify whether motorists have insurance when they are pulled over for other reasons.
PRIVATE CEMETERIES - Senate Bill 2199 would''ve required landowners and leasees of private land with cemeteries or burial sites to give people access for cemetery visits.
CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM - House Bill 79 would''ve authorized development of a Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.
CANDY CIGARETTES - House Bill 319 would''ve banned the sale of candy or other food products that look like tobacco.
MINORS'' SMOKING - House Bill 128 would''ve set penalties for possession of tobacco by minors.
FUNERAL CONTRACTS - House Bill 997 would''ve revised regulations for prepaid funeral contracts.