Steve Rogers

About Steve Rogers

Assistant News Director/Assignment Editor; degree in finance and administration from Yale University; 35 years experience in journalism.

Texting, ‘Rainy Day’ Gap Among Legislative Issues

Gov. Phil Bryant and Legislative budgeters are about $200 million off on how much money to stash away for a rainy day.

And the Legislature once again likely will tackle a ban on texting while driving but enforcement and privacy issues may get in the way.

State Senate Pro Tem Terry Brown, a Lowndes County Republican, says the surplus funds gap likely will be eaten up among Medicaid, education and a few other wishes.

Bryant’s proposed budget adds about $100 million to the state’s rainy day fund. The Budget Committee sets aside about $300 million.

Among other things Bryant wants to spend some money to jump start early childhood education and to settle a lawsuit over the state’s foster care system.

“We are holding on to some money anticipation we may have to put a bump in it to take care of the Medicaid situation that we’ve got. I know the governor has some things he wants to spend it on,” Brown said.

The Legislature convenes Tuesday but is not expected to finish the budget until April.

Brown says he expects the Legislature to again debate the texting ban, especially in the wake of several high profile accidents across the state in the last year where drivers were texting.

And while Alabama imposed a similar ban last year, the Lowndes County Republican says the issues are far from clear in the Mississippi Legislature.

“We will debate it, the problem we are running into with texting is how do you enforce it, dow do you find out if they are texting and everything. They say you can just take their phone and check it but then you get into a privacy situation. We had that face us,” Brown said.

Several texting ban proposals already have ben filed this year and others are expected.