The fog was thick and dense Wednesday morning, but that didn’t stop a group of Coast women from climbing aboard a bus that stopped in Biloxi and Gulfport before heading to Jackson. And while the coffee was hot and the conversation was pleasant before the bus pulled out of Biloxi, those making the trip were focused on their mission — to meet with lawmakers from South Mississippi to discuss some proposed legislation.
Among the Senate bills they planned to question and oppose were a bill that would allow the state to detain illegal aliens and abolish sanctuaries; a “Blue Lives Matter” bill and proposed health-care realignment.
Organizers said about 20 women signed up for the Mississippi Coast Sisters Solidarity bus trip, a byproduct of the Jan. 21 solidarity march in Gulfport.
“We’re going to meet our senators and representatives from the Coast to talk to them about some bills that are being debated,” said Lea Campbell of Mississippi Rising Coalition.
One of the bills the group planned to discuss was SB 2469, which passed the Senate and was being debated in the House on Wednesday. Commonly known as the “Blue, Red and Med Lives Matter” bill, it would enhance penalties for violent crimes committed against first responders.
It was written by Sen. Philip Moran, R-Kiln and co-authored by Sen. Sean Tidnell, R-Gulpfort and Sen. Tommy Gollot, R-Biloxi.
“The bill will triple the penalties on anyone convicted of a violent crime against police and other emergency personnel,” Campbell said. “It is basically saying first responders have a target on their backs and to deter violence against them, they are proposing enhanced penalties, but there’s no evidence to support there’s increased violence against first responders — it’s our view that it’s a political bill in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and it will only continue to increase the cultural divide.”
Campbell said they also planned to discuss funding for education in the state.
“The legislators are currently considering and education bill proposal that will revamp the funding for public education because we are concerned about that and we know that nationally and with the confirmation of Betsy DeVos (Tuesday) there’s a push for charter schools and we’ve seen that in Mississippi as well,” she said. “We want to express our concerns about that and we want to see public education fully funded in Mississippi.”