A host of bills were signed into law Thursday by Gov. Tate Reeves, including one that will reform the state’s parole system and another that allows utilities to lease their infrastructure to broadband providers.
Senate Bill 2795 will change the way the state does parole with non-violent offenders eligible after serving 25 percent of their sentence. Violent offenders would be eligible after serving at least 50 percent of their sentence. SB 2795 is sponsored by state Sen. Juan Barnett, D- Heidelberg, and similar legislation was vetoed last year by Reeves.
On Twitter, Gov. Reeves said that “My conservative friends that voted against this bill did so based on valid concerns. I share many of them which led to last year’s veto. I also believe in second chances. I believe it meets my standard for a measured appropriation and, with proper implementation, it can be a net positive for Mississippi.”
Speaking of vetoes, Reeves partially vetoed the appropriations for both the Department of Transportation and the Department of Finance and Administration. No veto message was included with the bills.
Last December, Reeves won in the state Supreme Court when some of his line-item vetoes were challenged by House leadership in court. In the state Constitution of 1890, it says that the governor may veto parts of appropriation bill and approve parts of the same, and the portions shall be law.
Earlier this session, Reeves signed into law some other criminal justice reform legislation in the form of House bills 551 and 196, both sponsored by state Rep. Nick Bain, R-Corinth. HB 551 will allow ex-convicts to obtain driver’s licenses, while HB 196 will require the state’s penitentiaries to provide a basic standard of healthcare for pregnant women who are incarcerated.
SB 2798 will allow rate-regulated utilities to lease their surplus fiber optic cable capacity to broadband providers for areas that are unserved or underserved. The bill was authored by state Sen. Joel Carter, R-Gulfport.
Reeves also signed into law SB 2971. This bill would issue $86 million for projects at the state’s universities and $35 million for the state’s community and junior colleges.
In addition to those funds, taxpayers will also be borrowing more than $24 million for projects unrelated to the state’s higher education system.
Most of the 322 newly signed bills go into effect on July 1, the first day of the new fiscal year.