A Whopper of a First Session


A Whopper of a First Session!

Posted by Representative Jill Ford

If you were to ask me to come up with one word that described my first session in the Legislature, it would be “whopper”: something unusually large or
otherwise extreme of its kind.

The memory of my first bite of a Whopper was in Memphis, Tennessee, on a girl’s shopping trip for school clothes. My mother and I ordered one and split
it because we wanted to see what all the hype was about. I do remember it being very tasty. A bit messy. But the entire experience was one never to
be forgotten. Exactly like the past six months at the Mississippi State Capitol!

Now that I am actually able to swallow from the mouth full of Whopper I sunk my teeth into in January, I will do my best to give you some sort of a legislative
update specific to Madison County, including the “special sauce” but actually starting with the “two all beef patties”.

1 – After several years of being on the top of the legislative priorities list for Madison County, I am pleased to be able to share with you that Madison
County will receive $5,000,000 in bond monies to assist in paying the costs associated with pre-construction, design, engineering, land acquisition,
right-of-way acquisition, construction and development of the Reunion Parkway project from Bozeman Road to Parkway East in Madison County, District

2 – Other bond monies awarded to Madison County consisted of 1) $750,000.00 to assist the City of Madison in paying the costs associated with the repair
and renovation of the historic high school building and attached historic gymnasium to serve as the new city hall and performing arts center; and 2)
$750,000.00 to assist the City of Ridgeland in paying the costs associated with the construction, furnishing and equipping of its new city hall. I
am very thankful to have been a small part in the procuring of these monies. For more info, you can click on HB1730.

Now, onto the “condiments” of the Whopper.

1 – Being able to get a Bill passed my Freshman year was quite a feat and one that I am most proud of since my entire campaign was built on helping protect
and provide for law enforcement. HB1500 was signed into law by the Governor on June 25, 2020, and will authorize the board on law enforcement officer
standards and training to consider certain military training when determining whether an applicant has satisfied certain requirements in order to be
qualified for appointment or employment as a law enforcement officer. I am hopeful this will be an enticement for those who have returned home from
serving in our Military Police to protect us here in Madison County, as well.

2 – Several COVID-19 bills were taken up and passed that will be beneficial to Madison County. The bills addressed a variety of topics related to the pandemic:
distance learning in K-12 public schools (SB3044), the Mississippi Back-to-Business Liability Assurance Act (SB3049), additional money from the Broadband
Availability Grant Program Fund to the Mississippi Department of Education (HB1797), and appropriations to the Department of Employment Security (HB1795)
are just a few examples of these bills. Other bills that might be of interest to you can be found on the Legislative website.

No Whopper would ever be complete without the “sesame seed buns”.

Often times I order my burger without the buns to try and limit my carb intake; however, no way in the world would this year’s session have been one for
the history books had I not been faced with the biggest decision the legislature has had to make in years. We all felt the mounting pressure from the
outside world as they watched us sink our teeth into something that was initially hard to chew, but ultimately easy to swallow: retiring the state

See my comments from my Facebook post and the article from the Madison County Journal.

After weeks of discussion and hours of prayer, House Concurrent Resolution 79 was introduced on Saturday, June 27. After passionate floor debate and a
bipartisan effort, HCR79 passed the House by a vote of 84-25, and subsequently was passed by the Senate. On Sunday, June 28, HB1796 was introduced
removing the current flag and establishing a commission to create a new flag. The commission will be comprised of nine members chosen by the Governor,
Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House. The flag chosen by the commission will then be placed on the ballot in November for citizens to approve.
HB1796 passed the House by a vote of 92-23, passed the Senate by a vote of 37-14 and was signed into law by Governor Tate Reeves on Tuesday, June 30.

On Wednesday, July 1, a ceremony was held to retire the 1894 state flag. Legislators, staff, members of the media and visitors watched as the flags at
the Capitol were raised and then lowered for the last time. Members of the Mississippi National Guard and the Mississippi Highway Patrol Honor Guard
presented the flags to Speaker Philip Gunn, Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann and Mississippi Department of Archives and History Director Katie
Blount. Speaker Gunn, Lt. Governor Hosemann and Director Blount then escorted the flags to the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil
Rights Museum.

And now, last, but not least: “the special sauce”.

Many of you already know, several legislators, including myself, have come down with COVID-19 due to spending two very long weeks sitting next to each
other in a room the size of a compact car. We knew it was a huge risk but one we all were willing to take to get the job done. Working late into the
night and throughout the weekend, we had to complete the budget before year end, and pass several bills that would benefit our state greatly. We could
all use your prayers during the next two weeks trying to heal from this crazy illness.

{And thanks for your grace in allowing me to use Big Mac references to describe a Whopper}.

Until next time, just keep looking up!

To contact me, please feel free to text or call my cell @ 601-624-6911.

My email is jford@house.ms.gov.