Trio of Awards Honor Parker’s Work

Recent awards recognize Senator David Parker’s legislative work to reform Mississippi DUI laws, protect children and support local governments

Three organizations recently honored Senator David Parker (R-Olive Branch) for his work this past legislative session to reform Mississippi DUI laws, protect children through a foster care alternative and support local governments.

“Voters expect us to make reforms and improve our state, that’s the job they elect us to do,” Parker said. “So we don’t do this work for awards, but I’m honored these organizations would recognize these efforts and through these awards continue to bring public attention on important issues like fighting drunk driving, protecting Mississippi children and making smart, fiscal decisions to address needs in our local communities.”

MADD – Legislators of the Year

MADD recognized 69 lawmakers across the country, including Parker, as “Legislators of the Year” for their tireless work and commitment to saving lives and fighting drunk driving deaths. “MADD is proud to work with these leaders in the battle against the leading killer on our nation’s roadways,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church. “With more than 10,000 drunk driving deaths every year in America, we must continue to push for smart laws that will help us create a nation of No More Victims.”

The Legislators of the Year played a major role in MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving. MADD highlighted efforts in Mississippi “to strengthen all-offender ignition interlock laws and improve statewide reporting of DUI.” MADD thanked Parker for authoring and shepherding into passage SB 2778, the DUI Transparency Act.

Foundation for Government Accountability – Champion of Children Award

The Foundation for Government Accountability presented Parker with the 2016 Champion of Children Award “to honor his effort to protect Mississippi’s at-risk children and keep them out of foster care.” In 2016, Parker authored the “Supporting and Strengthening Families Act” which provides a mechanism for a family based alternative to foster care. The legislation was signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant.

“Leaders like Parker will save thousands of children from suffering through a short-term family issue like homelessness, unemployment, hospitalization, or whatever other challenges life presents. Since parents retain full rights under Parker’s plan, the children can avoid the tumult of foster care and families can be reunited more quickly at no cost to taxpayers,” FGA said its announcement of the award. Tarren Bragdon, CEO of FGA said, “Leaders like Senator Parker realize that Mississippi’s children and parents deserve a better alternative, and they are working on creating protections for families that ask for help and for the families that step up to offer it.”

Mississippi Municipal League – Friend of Municipal Government Legislative Award

The Mississippi Municipal League recently presented Parker with the “Friend of Municipal Government Legislative Award” for his efforts to improve funding for local infrastructure needs. This year, Parker authored a bi-partisan bill which would have increased infrastructure funding for municipalities by $42 million statewide after a three-year phase-in without increasing taxes. Parker said he would continue working with the MML to advance this conservative approach to improving local infrastructure.

Senator Parker was also recently recognized as a “Business Champion” by BIPEC (Business and Industry Political Education Committee) for an “A” rating on pro-job creation votes, and an “A” grade by Americans for Prosperity Mississippi on their 2016 Economic Freedom Scorecard on legislative votes.

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Parker Scores “A” on AFP-Mississippi Economic Freedom Scorecard

AFP-Mississippi’s 2016 Economic Feedom Scorecard ranked Senator David Parker with an “A” rating for his conservative votes on taxes and spending, regulatory issues and education.

AFP Mississippi scored 27 votes on bills in the Mississippi Senate “consistent with the principles spelled out at AFP’s MSGrowthProject.com.  These principles include: (1)  fairer  taxes  that  allow  taxpayers  to  keep  more  of  what  they  earn;  (2)  spending  limited  to  core  functions  of  government;  (3)  fewer  job  killing  and  protectionist  regulations;  and  (4)  more  choice and innovation in education.”

The full scoredcard can be found here.

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Parker Named “Business Champion” for 100% Pro-Growth Voting Record by BIPEC

Senator David Parker (R-Olive Branch) earned an “A” rating and was named a “Business Champion” by BIPEC for the 2016 legislative session for a 100% score on 18 pro-growth business votes as well as his efforts to create a stronger job creation environment in Mississippi. A full list of the votes and background on the legislation can be found at BIPEC’s 2016 Legislator “Business & Jobs” Report Card.

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Parker Works With Mississippi DUI Forum

Jackson meeting coordinates Mississippi efforts to reform DUI laws, enhance prosecution

JACKSON (July 11, 2016)– Senator David Parker (R-Olive Branch) praised the Mississippi DUI Forum for continuing progress toward more effective efforts to combat impaired driving in Mississippi.  “The work being done at meetings like this which bring together all parties engaged in this effort will help provide a framework to continue to improve our DUI laws, enforcement and prevention,” Parker said.

Mississippi State University’s Social Science Research Center sponsored the two day forum in Jackson this past Wednesday and Thursday, which brought together representatives from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police, the Mississippi Office of Highway Safety, Sobriety Trained Officers Representing Mississippi, and the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office.

Senator David Parker works with law enforcement at the Mississippi DUI Forum to seek reforms in DUI laws and enhanced enforcement.

Senator David Parker works with law enforcement at the Mississippi DUI Forum to seek reforms in DUI laws and enhanced enforcement.

Parker gave a detailed legislative update to the 150 in attendance and participated in breakout sessions made up of law enforcement, court clerks, judges, prosecutors, driver records and systems personnel and mental health workers. Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves and Speaker of the House Philip Gunn addressed the forum.

“The program began with recognition that as agencies in Mississippi, we are all part of the problem and so we must all be part of the solution. Legislation without education of those involved in these reforms won’t be effective. I’m encouraged to see agencies coming together to provide more ideas to make DUI prosecution, enforcement and prevention stronger. We need cooperation like this to continue to update our DUI laws as technology continues to improve,” Parker said.

Two DUI reform bills authored by Parker were signed into law from the 2016 regular legislative session. They went into effect on July 1. The DUI Transparency Act (SB2778) adjusted offense categories to assist in prosecution and enhance punishment; created more intense repeat offender prevention programs and requires complete reporting of DUI offenses to prevent repeat offenders from dodging consequences. The DUI Modernization and Technology Act (SB2777) created a study committee to monitor reporting of first offense DUIs, measure the impact of these reforms and report recommendations back to the legislature. It also created a Mandatory State Offense Reporting Task Force.

The Mississippi DUI Forum will present its findings and solutions to the study committee for recommendation of additional reforms to the legislature.

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More than 150 people met in Jackson representing law enforcement, the judiciary, court clerks, prosecutors, driver records and systems personnel and mental health workers. Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves and Speaker of the House Philip Gunn also addressed the forum.

More than 150 people met in Jackson representing law enforcement, the judiciary, court clerks, prosecutors, driver records and systems personnel and mental health workers. Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves and Speaker of the House Philip Gunn also addressed the forum.

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Senators Call On MDE to Disregard Federal Bathrooms Policy

Twenty-seven state Senators sent a letter to the Mississippi Board of Education and State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright demanding the Mississippi Department of Education disregard the joint guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice regarding Title IX funding and accommodations for students with gender dysphoria. The text of the letter follows below:

May 17, 2016

MS Board of Education Board Members
Dr. Carey Wright, State Superintendent of Education
MS Dept of Education
PO Box 771
Jackson, MS 39205-0771

Dear MS Board of Education and Dr. Wright:

Members of the Mississippi Senate, along with our constituents and fellow Mississippians, stand with Governor Bryant and demand the Mississippi Department of Education disregard the joint guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice regarding Title IX funding and accommodations for students with gender dysphoria .  The federal government is, in effect, trying to blackmail our state by implying that funding for public schools will be withheld should we continue to recognize biological sex when setting safety and privacy policies for our schools.  Dr. Wright made the decision to usurp the board’s authority and unilaterally issue the policy decision to acquiesce to the illegal demands of the federal government. For this, the superintendent must be held accountable.

Section 203 of our state constitution establishes the Board of Education. The Board holds the sole responsibility to “formulate policies according to law for implementation by the State Department of Education.” Dr. Wright’s decision to forego the will of the Board and impose her political will on the entire state is fundamentally unconstitutional. It is the Board’s job to formulate policy, not the superintendent’s. Dr. Wright’s policy statement issued on May 13, 2016  is non-binding and should be immediately withdrawn.

Additionally, if Dr. Wright, in her capacity as State Superintendent of Education, does not recognize the danger that such an irresponsible policy decision will impose on the children of our state, then it is obvious that her ideals and values do not represent those of the state of Mississippi and the board should act accordingly. We look forward to your swift and decisive action on this urgent matter and each of us stand ready to meet or speak with you if necessary.

Thank you in advance for your immediate attention on this issue.

Senator David L. Parker
Senator Michael Watson
Senator Kevin Blackwell
Senator Jennifer Branning
Senator Nicky Browning
Senator Chris Caughman
Senator Videt Carmichael
Senator Lydia Chassaniol
Senator Buck Clarke
Senator Dennis DeBar
Senator Sally Doty
Senator Joey Fillingane
Senator Tommy Gollott
Senator Josh Harkins
Senator Angela Hill
Senator Billy Hudson
Senator Gary Jackson
Senator Dean Kirby
Senator Chris Massey
Senator Chris McDaniel
Senator Chad McMahon
Senator Phillip Moran
Senator Rita Parks
Senator John Polk
Senator Mike Seymour
Senator Sean Tindell
Senator Chuck Younger

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Legislature Approves Parker’s ‘Foster Care Alternative”

Act provides family/community alternative to help children, family

Last week, a bi-partisan House and Senate approved the “Supporting and Strengthening Families Act” authored by Senator David Parker (R-Olive Branch) which would provide a family or community based alternative to Mississippi’s foster care system.  The measure is headed to Governor Phil Bryant for his consideration.

[### UPDATE ### Governor Phil Bryant signed the legislation into law on Friday, May 13, 2016.]

“Our first priority is the safety and welfare of children. But the Mississippi foster care system is overcrowded and has failed many children and families. This provides a mechanism to keep children safe, reduce government interference in family lives, and reduce the number of cases flooding the foster care system so it can better address the needs of children in the most severe circumstances,” Parker said.

“Supporting and Strengthening Families Act” (SB2493) would allow a parent or guardian to designate someone else as “attorney-in-fact” with power regarding the care and custody of a child for a short period. The designee could care for the child without many of the current foster care hurdles.  A parent would have the ability to revoke the power of attorney at any time. There would be no foster care compensation to the designee and the child would not be considered to be in foster care.  Sponsor organizations to aid the designee would include churches and other charitable organizations.

“We are all aware of problems that have been reported regarding foster care and DHS in Mississippi. This measure will not solve all of these issues but it is a step in the right direction. The bill allows a parent to transfer power of attorney to another person for a period of one year to allow the parent to get their life on track without fear of prosecution or state intervention claiming abandonment or neglect. My hope is we will see more Church and community organizations getting help to parents in need,” Parker said.

He continued, “Some parents face health or dependency issues which prevent them from meeting the needs of their children. But they have family or friends who love those children, can provide a stable and healthy environment for them and would welcome the opportunity to care for them while the parent or parents treat their challenges. Many studies show people would be willing to help out a friend in their time of need but are unwilling to go through the government process of being ‘foster parents.’ Likewise, there are tragic examples of foster parents participating for the wrong reasons. This reform is about people helping people and providing a parent with a solution that does not jeopardize their right to maintain custody of their child. Government doesn’t need to intrude, can’t afford to intrude, and would do greater damage by intruding in the lives of some children who have a network to care for them. This measure would enhance the family unit with no cost to the state and actually could relieve the state of unnecessary expenses and casework within DHS so the state can spend more time and resources on those who need the foster care system.”

Parker says this legislation will increase the success rate of children in challenging situations, and also provide an important option to single parents in the military, “Many times a parent in crisis will hold on too long before getting help for their problems such as addiction.  During this time, the state may act to take their child from the home and once away, the child has a much lower chance of success both short term and long term. This provides another option that protects the child and works to keep the family intact. Also, this bill will help our military single mothers or fathers who might be deployed to have an option for care during their service.”

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Parker DUI Reform Bills Approved by Legislature

Reforms close loopholes; strengthen prosecution: headed to governor

JACKSON (April 22, 2016) – In the closing days of the 2016 legislative session, the House and Senate voted to approve two DUI reform bills authored by Senator David Parker (R-Olive Branch) which would close current loopholes and strengthen prosecution. The measures are headed to Governor Phil Bryant for his consideration.

“Mississippi’s DUI loopholes created a dangerous driving environment for everyone. I’m proud the legislature – both House and Senate – worked in a bi-partisan way to reform the way we report and punish DUI violations to close the loopholes and strengthen prosecution,” Parker said.

Parker continued, “The old law encouraged prosecutors and judges to adjudicate DUI violations as first offense DUIs to prevent the courts from being bogged down by DUI jury trials. As a result, 92 percent of DUI offenses are adjudicated as first offenses, even with violators who have multiple violations. These measures correct that by adjusting offense categories and requiring accurate and transparent reporting of DUI convictions.”

“Repeat DUI offenders threaten the health and lives of their passengers, others on the road and themselves. We do them and society a disservice by letting them off lightly on a first offense when in reality they have multiple offenses. Those individuals need help and that needs to be addressed before they hurt others,” said Parker.

The measures were Senate Bill 2778, The DUI Transparency Act; and Senate Bill 2777, The DUI Modernization and Technology Act.

SB2778 – DUI Transparency Act

  • Adjusts offense categories
  • Lower 2nd offense penalty below jury trial threshold to remove motivation of judges and prosecutors to reduce charges to 1st offense
  • 3rd offense penalty automatically a felony
  • Creates new 4th offense category (Fine $3000 to $10,000 / 2 to 10 years prison)
  • Mississippi Alcohol Safety Program mandatory after 1st offense
  • DUI operation of a commercial vehicle by a person with a commercial drivers license is an automatic felony; a person with a CDL driving their private vehicle reverts to regular penalties
  • Creates drug testing as interlock substitute for DUI & narcotic violators
  • Creates $100 civil penalty for court clerks who fail to report DUI convictions
  • Requires Department of Public Safety to maintain a central database for verification of prior offenses and convictions

SB2777 – DUI Modernization and Technology Act

  • Creates uncompensated study committee to monitor reporting of 1st offense DUIs
  • Committee to report findings by end of the year to measure impact of SB2777 & SB2778
  • Make a comprehensive study of the flow of information between all agencies
  • Make recommendations for electronic submission of all records with possible costs
  • Make recommendations for implementing court supervised drug testing for repeat offenders
  • Review DUI records to determine whether repeat offenders are actually being prosecuted as repeat offenders
  • Asses probability of DPS producing a self-authenticating record of DUI convictions  that is admissible under Rules of Evidence
  • Creates Mandatory Statewide Offense Reporting System Task Force
  • Study uniform crime reporting and standardized offense reporting system
  • Provide true picture of crime in state and to predict and prevent criminal activity
  • Major focus is to recommend an automated reporting system
  • Members serve without compensation
  • Report to legislature by December 2016

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Veterans’ Issues Pushed by Parker Signed Into Law

JACKSON (April 14, 2016) – Senator David Parker (R-Olive Branch), Chairman of the Senate Veterans & Military Affairs Committee said by working closely with his House counterparts they have passed all the veterans’ priorities addressed this session.

“By working closely with House Military Affairs Chairman Ray Rogers, we’ve been able to ensure all the priorities of veterans and military families brought to us this session have been addressed. We passed some of them as Senate bills, some as House bills, and others within larger bills. They’re important issues, bipartisan issues, and I’m proud we could work with both sides of the legislature and Governor Phil Bryant to make these smart policy changes in Mississippi,” Parker said.

Parker continued, “I’ve met extensively with representatives from the Mississippi National Guard and veterans affairs to determine their priorities for Mississippians currently or previously in uniform. These proposals honor and protect their service to our state and country.”

Parker was the primary author of two of the bills signed into law by Governor Bryant:

  • SB2468 – Automatically makes assaulting a member of the Mississippi National Guard or the U.S. Armed Forces an “aggravated assault” when acting within the scope of duty, office or employment. Other first responders, teachers, law enforcement and elected officials are already covered by this statute;
  • SB2669 – Revision to the Mississippi Code of Military Justice as requested by military officers.

Parker noted several other priorities the legislature passed which were approved through the House version of the bill or inside larger bills:

  • Clarifies rules regarding veteran nonresident students regarding out of state tuition.
  • Revisions to the Mississippi Code of Military Justice as requested by military officers.
  • Would allow honorably discharged veterans of World War II to obtain a distinctive motor vehicle license tag exempt from fees, and allow surviving spouses to renew after the veteran’s death. (This bill has not passed but may be included in an omnibus tag bill.)
  • Would allow up to five copies of death certificates to be issued without charge for deceased veterans. This act, HB81, was authored by Representative Steve Hopkins (R-Southaven).

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Update: Parker DUI Reform & Local Infrastructure Bills Pass Senate

Parker’s measures to close DUI loopholes; allow municipalities to retain sales tax from state for infrastructure move to House for consideration

JACKSON (March 10, 2016) – Two of Senator David Parker’s (R-Olive Branch) legislative priorities have passed the Mississippi Senate and now proceed to House of Representatives for consideration.

Parker’s bills to close the DUI loopholes which allow repeat offenders to plea to a first time offense and escape punishment passed unanimously. The DUI Modernization and Technology Act (SB2777) and the DUI Transparency Act (SB2778) will standardize reporting procedures within in Mississippi and with other states to ensure multiple “first” offense charges are not used to avoid punishment, as well as provide sentencing reform to allow an easier path toward prosecuting second offense violations.

“Currently, 92 percent of DUI offenses are adjudicated as first offenses, even with violators who have multiple violations,” Parker said.  “Letting someone with multiple offenses skirt through the process avoid prosecution puts themselves and the public in danger. These measures close those loopholes.”

A bill (SB2146) which allows local government to retain more sales tax revenue for infrastructure projects, rather than sending it to the state to redistribute passed the Senate 46-4 last week and is now under also under consideration by the House of Representatives. The measure would increase infrastructure funding for municipalities by $42 million statewide after a three-year phase-in without increasing taxes. Towns and cities would keep an additional half-percent of sales tax collected, increased each year for the next three years from the current 18.5 percent to 20 percent to benefit roads, bridges, water and sewer and other local infrastructure projects.

“This increase in funding to municipalities isn’t an answer to all their infrastructure problems,” Parker said, “but infrastructure is a long term challenge and this provides a long time budget increase by returning more money and power to local governments and without raising taxes.”

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Parker’s “Supporting and Strengthening Families Act” Passes Senate

Would allow family-based alternative to foster care

JACKSON (March 7, 2016) – Senator David Parker (R-Olive Branch) introduced and moved through the Senate the “Supporting and Strengthening Families Act” (SB2493) which would provide a mechanism for a family based alternative to foster care. The measure passed unanimously and is now before the House of Representatives for consideration.

“Our first priority is the safety and welfare of children. But the Mississippi foster care system is overcrowded and has failed many children and families. This provides a mechanism to keep children safe, reduce government interference in family lives, and reduce the number of cases flooding the foster care system so it can better address the needs of children in the most severe circumstances,” Parker said.

The legislation would allow a parent or guardian to designate someone else as “attorney-in-fact” with power regarding the care and custody of a child for a short period. The designee could care for the child without many of the current foster care hurdles. A parent would have the ability to revoke the power of attorney at any time. There would be no foster care compensation to the designee and the child would not be considered to be in foster care. Sponsor organizations to aid would include churches and other charitable organizations.

“Some parents face health or dependency issues which prevent them from meeting the needs of their children. But they have family or friends who love those children, can provide a stable and healthy environment for them and would welcome the opportunity to care for them while the parent or parents treat their challenges. Government doesn’t need to intrude, can’t afford to intrude, and would do greater damage by intruding in the lives of some children who have a network to care for them. This measure would enhance the family unit while allowing the state to spend more time and resources on those who need the foster care system.”

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